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FMX 2014 Spotlights Virtual Production with ‘Gravity,’ ‘Avatar 2’

Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia to spotlight virtual production in Gravity, Avatar 2 and more with speakers including Chris DeFaria, Tim Webber and Jon Landau.

Organizers for FMX 2014, running this year April 22-25 in Stuttgart, Germany, have announced that Chris DeFaria, President, Animation, Digital Production and Visual Effects, Warner Bros. Pictures, will be joining the set of presentations on Academy Award-winning Gravity, along with Tim Webber, who received the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The renowned Producer Jon Landau also brings his expertise to Stuttgart: he reveals exclusive insights into the next Avatar movie. Other remarkable additions include VFX veteran John Knoll, action stunners Captain America: The Winter Soldier and 300: Rise of an Empire, gaming highlights Battlefield 4 and Injustice: Gods Among Us, revelatory Transmedia sessions under the headline 5D Institute: Pipe Dreams, further enriching presentations on Concept Art, Creatures, 3D Printing and more.

Virtual Production with Chris DeFaria, Tim Webber, Jon Landau, Gravity and the next Avatar
FMX is proud to welcome to Stuttgart many important persons from the motion picture industry: Chris DeFaria, the highly successful and renowned President, Animation, Digital Production and Visual Effects, Warner Bros. Pictures, who produced seven-time Oscar winner Gravity, comes together with Tim Webber from British VFX company Framestore, for a discussion on the production of Gravity as part of the Virtual Production track curated by David Morin (Autodesk) and Sebastian Sylwan (Creative Technologist, former Weta Digital). The discussion is moderated by film journalist Bill Desowitz. Tim Webber, who took home the VFX trophy on Oscar night, will present the amazing new techniques and innovations used to make the much-lauded film. And Jon Landau, the Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning producer from Lightstorm Entertainment, is coming to FMX! Jon Landau holds the distinction of having produced the two highest grossing films of all time: Avatar and Titanic. At FMX, Landau will present an exclusive glimpse of the R&D for the next Avatar movies currently in production. Jon Landau will discuss the world of Avatar in an interview on the virtual production challenges that have to be surmounted for the realization of the film.

VFX spectacles: 300: Rise of an Empire, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and many more
The Virtual Production track assembles a wide range of films, games and TV series. Chris DeFaria (Warner Bros.), Patrick Smith and Duncan Burbidge (both The Third Floor) are joined by Thomas Zauner (Scanline VFX) and Don Parker (Shotgun Software) to elaborate on the realization of the Warner Bros. sequel 300: Rise of an Empire from previs to production management. In addition, Russell Earl, (Industrial Light & Magic) and Ron Frankel (Proof) deconstruct Captain America: The Winter Soldier from previs to the final image. Two presentations on Roland Emmerich's action explosion White House Down further complement the array of film favorites: Volker Engel (Uncharted Territory), explains why the virtual production pipeline was the key to the film being finished on time, and Andrea Block as well as Christian Haas (both LUXX Studios) dedicate their talk to the creation of the full CG helicopter flight. Moreover, Daniel Gregoire (Halon Entertainment) analyzes the pre- and postvisualization for Zombie apocalypse WWZ, and Pepe Valencia (BARABOOM! Studios), Daniel Gregoire (Halon Entertainment), Isaac Partouche (SolidTrack) and Joe Lewis (Encodacam) share the stage to enlighten the audience on their work on the VFX-heavy science documentary TV series Cosmos.

Concept Art and Creatures from Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim, 47 Ronin
FMX dedicates a whole track to the creatures that have evolved from marginal cast into viable main protagonists. Curated by Dave Gougé (Weta Digital), the "Creatures" series of talks looks at duelling demons, sea monsters, robots and dragons. Industrial Light & Magic's John Knoll - who counts among the most prolific VFX veterans and has contributed vital work to Avatar as well as numerous Star Wars and Star Trek instalments- dives into the wide-ranging scope of ILM's effects work on Guillermo del Toro's science fiction epic Pacific Rim. What's more, Sven Martin (Pixomondo) analyzes the difficulties of dragon upbringing from a technical perspective for Game of Thrones, and Dan Zelcs (MPC) unearthes the creation of the fighting Oni Demon for 47 Ronin. Curated by Patrick Hanenberger (THE NEULAND), two Concept Art presentations explore the power of visual inspiration: While Ravi Bansal (MPC) recounts 17 years of working as a Concept Artist on films such as Avatar or Elysium, Martin Bergquist (Avalanche Studios) concentrates on "Concept Art in a Real-Time Production Environment."

Games: Battlefield 4, Injustice: Gods Among Us
Injustice: Gods Among Us is yet another prestigious addition to the Game Cinematics track curated by Dominic Cianciolo (NetherRealm Studios). Cianciolo himself examines the studio's motion capture process for key scenes of the popular single-player fighting game, including proper casting, detailed rehearsal and pre-visualization. The game engine Frostbite 3 takes another seat in the front row of virtual production at FMX, when Frank Vitz (DICE) shares some of the cinematic techniques and tools available in the latest version of Frostbite as used by the Battlefield 4 team. Last but not least: Dr. Jon G Peddie (Jon Peddie Research) paints a picture of the future of gaming from handhelds to augmented reality in his presentation on high-end graphics for new game platforms.

Transmedia Experiences - 5D Institute: Pipe Dreams and Feature Animation
This year's Transmedia Experiences focus on holistic thinking. In this vein, Alex McDowell (5D World Building Institute at USC School of Cinematic Arts) hosts this dedicated series of discussions together with Sarah Smith (Locksmith Animation), who directed Aardman Animation's Arthur Christmas. "5D Institute: Pipe Dreams" dreams up the ultimate blueprint for tomorrow's animated feature studio, debating issues that revolve around collaborative world building and integrated virtual production. How far should the different processes be integrated? Is 2D concept outmoded, or is it the heart of the artform? Is the storyboard still the creative bible? When does story become previs become layout? And how should production pipes, often built around VFX workflows, change to become part of a holistic creative process? Six different sessions assemble experienced leaders in all areas of Feature Animation as well as innovative thinkers to discuss, expand and even answer those questions.

Forward! 3D Printing from the 3D Print Button to 3D Selfies
Paul Debevec (University of Southern California) curates the 3D Printing track that focuses on the advances of 3D printing and its advantages for a broad audience. Prof. Dr. Marc Alexa (TU Berlin) provides the theoretical background when he shares his insights into shading as well as shapes and their perception. In addition, Bernd Bickel (Disney Research Zuerich) invents techniques of bringing virtual characters into the real world and describes his efforts of introducing a "3D Print Button" for animation software. Furthermore, Christoph Voelcker (Purmundus) showcases his company's approach to 3D-printed lifestyle products and Prof. Dr. Hao Li (University of Southern California) looks at the 3D family portrait that becomes possible with the evolution of 3D Selfies.

Source: FMX 2014

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.