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Issue: Volume 35 Issue 3 April/May 2012

Editor's Note

By: Karen Moltenbrey
Are you a professional in the VFX or animation industry? If so, the FMX Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, is likely on your radar. (As a reminder, the conference will be held Tuesday, May 8, through Friday, May 11.) After all, in less than two decades, it has become one of the top conferences for digital content creation professionals, alongside other notable trade shows such as SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia. Unlike the venerable SIGGRAPH, which is focused more on research and academia, FMX takes a slightly different tact, focusing on production. As a result, this European show for CG professionals offers a unique program that provides valuable information for attendees.

It’s hard to believe that nearly two decades ago, FMX opened its doors (in 1994)—not for professionals working in the VFX and animation industries, but for students. Initially called “Film and Media Exchange” (hence the acronym FMX), the conference was organized by Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction. Still organized by the school, FMX continues to draw students with its sessions and speakers. However, the show now attracts CG professionals as speakers and as attendees. Consider this: In 2005, the event boasted 3,000 attendees; this year, more than 7,000 visitors are expected from more than 40 countries—of those, one-third are students, and two-thirds are professionals from across the globe (largely Germany and Europe).  “FMX now is the European event for visual arts and animation, video games, and transmedia,” says Jean-Michel Blottiere, program chair.

“Every year we raise the level of the speakers,” notes Blottiere, and that does appear to be the case. In the past, animators and specialists hosted sessions; eventually FMX was able to attract VFX supervisors and heads of animation. This year, the conference is welcoming legendary filmmaker and visual effects pioneer Doug Trumbull, who will deliver a keynote address.

In addition to raising the bar each year with high-caliber speakers, conference organizers are raising the level of the show’s content. As always, there will be forums containing workshops and master classes. There will also be sessions, papers, and more. For those seeking employment opportunities and those looking to hire talent, there will be recruiting booths and presentations. On the education side, there will be sessions and presentations pertinent to students. Of course, there will be numerous events and the always-popular screenings. This year, FMX will be presenting DreamWorks’Madagascar 3—a week prior to its debut at Cannes and prior to its US release. In addition, BlueSky has offered to show its Ice Age 4 animated feature, which will be released this summer. And, the producers of The Lorax  (Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures) will hold a two-hour event focused on the making of the film, followed by a screening in 3D—again, weeks prior to its European release. “It is a good sign that major studios are considering FMX as a platform to launch their movies to the European audiences,” notes Blottiere.  

One of the most anticipated attractions, in Blottiere’s opinion, will be the session on virtual production—a hot topic in the industry to be sure. The session will span three days and cover a vast amount of information, from world building, to previsualization, to the virtual production stage, virtual cameras, virtual exteriors, and more. Presenting the keynote for this segment is Rob Legato, VFX supe on a number of big films, from Titanic to Hugo. “We are gathering the best people in the world to discuss the cinema of the future,” Blottiere says of the virtual production segment of the conference.

Although there is a lot to highlight in the film sector, the show has not lost its edge in terms of its focus on gaming. In this regard, there will be presentations about indie gaming and cinematics, along with a BioWare session on the popular Mass Effect 3 title. And that’s just a start.

Blockbuster films, games, and more. FMX has it all. Check it out, or better yet, register now. You will be glad you did.
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