April 28th, 2014

The annual FMX conference kicked off last week in Stuttgart, Germany, showcasing the best in animation, effects, games and transmedia from speakers like Vince Baertson, head of 3D at The Mill in NY, who presented on the ground breaking technology used in PETA '98% Human'. Along with packed audiences of VFX students, professionals and enthusiasts, The Mill team attended the four-day industry event filled with talks, workshops, exhibits...and parties. They share the conference highlights below.

The Mill was represented at FMX 2014 by the recruitment team, in attendance to keep an eye out for the latest young creative talent, and joined at their stand by Mill artists: Sid Harrington-Odedra (CG lead), Liz Mitchell (3D artist), and Aman Akram (lighting and rendering supervisor).

Vince Baertson, Head of 3D at The Mill in NY, also gave an in-depth presentation about the ground breaking technology used to create the 100% CG Chimp in PETA's: '98% Human'.

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What were the highlights of this year’s conference? 

Highlights were definitely attending talks given by leading professionals within the industry: renowned Hollywood actor & director Andy Serkis presented 'Early Look at Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', Michael Giaimo, art director at Disney, spoke about the art of animation in 'The Art Direction of Frozen', and CG supervisor Damien Gray shared behind the scenes insight on creating The Lego Movie.

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It was interesting seeing how other studios were attempting to solve the same problems as us, albeit from different angles. It was also evident that there’s an increasing crossover from games tech (real-time rendering) into film and from film to games.

Were there any standout themes?

Real time rendering was a key theme of this year’s show, but aside from that, Arnold, Houdini and the sheer amount of creature work studios seem to be doing were all overriding themes. Creature work was literally EVERYWHERE.

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What where the best talks? 

The 'Frozen: The Technology Behind Art-Directed Simulation' talk was fascinating. Disney revealed how they are taking their knowledge of traditional animation and applying it to technically complex things such as liquid and smoke simulations in order to make their compositions and timings more visually appealing.

The 'Bringing Rhythm & Energy Into Animation in Rio 2'  was another favourite.  The animator, Chip Lorenzo of Blue Sky Studios, was very enthusiastic and talked us through how he uses energy lines when animating dialogue sequences and also how he handled a massive choreographed dancing birds scene.

What was the best party?

The Solid Angle drinks party held in a bar near the venue was our favourite event as we got to meet loads of interesting people and hear about the amazing work they're all doing with Arnold.

Did you explore Stuttgart?

Yes – the architecture was beautiful, especially in the town centre. Conveniently held the same week,  The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) features various films on a huge LED screen in an open air cinema in the Festival Garden at the Schlossplatz.

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We went to a delicious restaurant called Ochs'n Willi and ordered beers bigger than our heads! Winner. Sid also managed to have this photo taken alongside it to prove its scale… (see below)

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Find the full program and list of speakers here and the daily re-stream.