Press Release #7: Closing Press Release
Stuttgart, April 26, 2014. Europe's most influential conference on digital entertainment for the makers of the industry was concluded with a very strong program this Friday, drawing attendees to the Haus der Wirtschaft well into the evening hours. In 2014, FMX is once again able to draw a very positive summary: 3000 attendees from 48 countries came to the Haus der Wirtschaft each day, among them a very high number of renowned personalities from the industry. This year's conference took place under the slogan "A Realtime Experience," assembling Art, Technology and Business for four days of presentations, discussions and Workshops. The undoubted highlight of this year's FMX was the keynote speech given by the world's first and foremost performance capture pioneer Andy Serkis, who presented yet unseen footage from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and shared his insights with the audience that filled the König-Karl-Halle to capacity.
Serkis commented on this year's FMX:
It's just a great melting pot of talent, but everyone is speaking the same language
Further renowned speakers included the highly successful President of Animation, Digital Production and Visual Effects at Warner Bros. Pictures, Chris DeFaria, who talked about his experience of producing seven-time Oscar winner Gravity as well as Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning producer Jon Landau (Avatar, Titanic), who presented an exclusive glimpse of the R&D for the next Avatar movies. Both industry veterans were part of the impressive line-up of the Virtual Production track that included five presentations on Gravity and further VFX gems. Moreover, the program offered presentations on Frozen, the most successful animation feature of all time, the upcoming DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2, Transmedia highlights of the likes of 5D Institute: Pipe Dreams and gaming hits such as Ryse: Son of Rome. This year's focus on Disruption and its challenges and opportunities was a huge success, especially the "Disruptive Education" sessions hosted by Marilyn Friedman, former Head of Outreach at DreamWorks Animation. The Forum brought together companies and R&D projects from around the world, showcasing a yet unseen level of diversity. Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart (AMCRS), Autodesk, Backstage and Beijing Film Animation Association were FMX Main Partners this year.
Facts and figures: FMX speakers and attendees
FMX is getting even more international: 260 speakers from 25 countries - one fourth from Germany and another fourth from the USA - offered approx. 260 presentations, workshops and masterclasses and curated tracks. Approximately 3000 daily visitors from 48 countries flocked to the Haus der Wirtschaft. This slight decrease in visitor numbers is accounted for by the reduction of venues: the FMX program was only showcased at the Haus der Wirtschaft and the Gloria cinema as the Gewerkschaftshaus is currently under construction. Nearly two thirds of all attendees were professionals. Approximately one third of all attendees were students. More than one third of all participants came from abroad. This slight increase again emphasizes the trend of internationalization. Most non-German attendees were from the UK, followed by the USA, Austria and Switzerland. The number of female attendees increased even further, underlining the growing presence of women in the industry: 32% of all attendees were female; the percentage of female participation among students reached 38%. 140 journalists were on-site to deliver press coverage on FMX this year.
Facts and figures: Marketplace, Recruiting Hub and more
More than 100 companies, media schools and R&D departments from as far away as New Zealand contributed to the Forum this year. The Marketplace, which was more than well-filled during all the days of FMX, displayed an increase in diversity and the number of R&D projects reached a new peak: 36 companies and R&D projects populated the Marketplace with their products, services and innovations. These innovations included a camera robot from Bot & Dolly and the augmented reality game The Gaudy Woods. Cut&Paste's design contest Alter Ego invited creative attendees to compose 2D characters. 24 companies including global players including Walt Disney Animation Studios, Framestore and MPC scouted talent on the Recruiting Hub, among them many companies from the region such as the internationally successful LUXX Studios. The School Campus was fully booked this year with 21 schools from nine countries. Those schools also presented their best projects in no more than five minutes as part of the popular "Fast Forward Education" track. Industry leaders of the likes of Adobe and Autodesk offered 35 insightful Workshops; Autodesk, Beijing Film Animation Association and Side Effects provided Company Suites. In Ed Hook's famous Masterclass "Acting for Animators" there were no more seats to be had. The "Meet the Speakers" sessions, which took place for the very first time at the heart of the School Campus, was very well received. The sessions invited speakers and attendees - among them companies such as Walt Disney Animation and DreamWorks - to engage in free-flowing, informal communication. The exhibition Moving Pictures in the Haus der Wirtschaft Foyer provided insights into six different interactive graphic novel projects. In addition, two student media installations were showcased: Sprout the Word and DIS:LOCATE.
Andy Serkis enriched the FMX program
FMX 2014 is proud that it was able to welcome Andy Serkis, the world-famous and foremost "performance-capture" pioneer and actor, to Stuttgart. His presentation was one of this year's highlight keynotes at FMX 2014, drawing extensive queues of attendees to the König-Karl-Halle. Serkis, who is best-known for his motion capture acting and voice work for CG characters such as Gollum in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, provided an "Early Look at Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Dave Gougé, Marketing Director at Weta Digital, introduced the acclaimed actor who shared exclusive footage with the audience. Serkis furthermore illuminated the opportunities of performance capture, underlining the authorship of the respective performance as provided by the actors behind the creatures on-screen and, furthermore, painting a picture of the future of motion capture where an actor can even embody quadrupeds.
Virtual Production: Gravity and further VFX-heavy highlights
The Virtual Production track, which took place for the third time, was a huge success. Curated by David Morin (Autodesk) and Sebastian Sylwan (Creative Technologist, former Weta Digital), this series of presentations brought together five presentations from high-quality professionals such as Chris DeFaria, the renowned President of Animation, Digital Production and Visual Effects at Warner Bros. Pictures, or Tim Webber, VFX Supervisor at Framestore, who provided production insights into seven-time Oscar winner Gravity covering a broad range of subjects from production challenges to the use of programmable lighting and camera robots from robotics company Bot & Dolly.Moreover, the Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning producer Jon Landau (Avatar, Titanic) presented an exclusive glimpse of the R&D for the next Avatar movies currently in production. Further Virtual Production talks encompassed blockbusters such as Captain America: Winter Soldier, World War Z, White House Down, 300: Rise of an Empire and the television series Cosmos
Business: Disruption and Entrepreneurship
FMX heeded the impact of globalization and the paradigm shift on the industry with several different formats that focused on disruption and entrepreneurship. There were several renowned speakers that looked at Germany as an international location for the production of internationally successful media - including Nico Hofmann who shed light on the successful European project The Physician, and Henrik Fett, Gabriel Sanchez (both from LOOK Effects) and Simon Weisse, who discussed their experience shooting Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel and creating the visual effects in Germany. Other talks demonstrated the opportunities and challenges of producing in France (Jacques Bled, Illumination Mac Guff, Despicable Me 2) and even China (Tore Blystad). The day-long series of sessions on "Disruptive Education," curated by Marilyn Friedman (former DreamWorks Animation), complemented this FMX focus. The demand for alternative approaches to bridge the divide between industry and education was so great that additional live streams had to be made available so that attendees were able to experience the different discussions. Two exclusive panels highlighted the trend to professionalization: The FMX and VES CEO Summit brought together decision makers from different sectors for the second time in a row, and the "Games Education South West" round table gathered 40 professionals from Baden-Württemberg and Switzerland to exchange insights and curricula.
The Art of Visual Effects: VES Specials, Creatures, Concept Art and Commercials
The Virtual Production track was complemented by further VFX highlights. The long list of extraordinary presentations was led by the VES Special The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that was dissected by David Smith (Sony Pictures Imageworks). Creatures were prominent guests at this year's FMX. Curated by Dave Gougé (Weta Digital), a respective series of talks made room for prolific VFX veteran John Knoll who shared ILM's effects work on Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim with the audience. Sven Martin (Pixomondo) added his very insightful and entertaining perspective on the difficulties of dragon upbringing for Game of Thrones - including unseen footage - and Dan Zelcs (MPC) put the fighting Oni Demon for 47 Ronin on the FMX stage. Further VFX presentations on Rush, Thor: The Dark World, Commercials and Concept Art enriched the elaborate VFX program.
Animation: Popular favorites and independent players
The animation section included highlights such as presentations on "The Art of Animation" as well as exclusive insights into films that have not as yet been officially released. Scott Peterson (DreamWorks Animation) introduced footage and discussed visual effects from the long-awaited sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 more than two months before it hits the cinemas. Moreover, a track on the "Art of Animation" delivered a homage to the much-loved medium. Frozen, which recently became the no.1 animated film of all time, continued its success story as a huge crowd-pleaser at FMX: Michael Giaimo‘s (Walt Disney Animation Studios) revelations of the artistic choices and visual challenges were accompanied by two further tech talks on the creation of the Oscar-winning animation delight. Blue Sky's Rio 2 was met with enthusiastic attendance, as was The LEGO Movie - Animal Logic's Damien Gray delivered a detailed presentation on the realization of the film that brought the immobile toy figurines to life. In addition, curator Andreas Hykade returned with his highly popular "Wild ‘n Strange" track that spotlighted independent animation.
Games: Gaming favorites and Games 4 Change
Acclaimed favorites were as much part of this year's gaming section as games for social impact. Kenneth McDonald and Teppei Takehana (both from Quantic Dream) shed light on the successful action-adventure game Beyond: Two Souls for Playstation 3, whilst Dan Calvert and Alex Zapata (Guerrilla Games) introduced their upcoming Next Gen AAA Asset Production Killzone: Shadow Fall. Game tracks delved into the new developments in "Mobile Games" or "Interfaces & Immersion" and zoomed in on "High-End Graphics for new Game Platforms;" speakers included, among others, Jon Peddie, who spoke about the future of gaming from handhelds to AR games. What's more, the Virtual Production track offered two presentations on Ryse: Son of Rome and gaming favorite Battlefield 4. In addition, the "Games for Change Europe" track - that was part of the FMX section Transmedia Experiences - focused on aesthetic aspects of transformational game design, introducing leading industry professionals and researchers like Noah Falstein (Chief Games Designer at Google) and Ken Perlin (NYU Media Research Lab), who showcased inspiring insights into the aesthetic challenges that come with new technologies.
Transmedia Experiences: 5D Institute: Pipe Dreams and new immersive experiences
A day-long series of discussions called "5D Institute: Pipe Dreams" - hosted by Alex McDowell (5D World Building Institute at USC School of Cinematic Arts) and Sarah Smith (Locksmith Animation) - was the undoubted Transmedia Experiences highlight this year. Several panels dedicated their time to collaboratively dream up the ultimate blueprint for tomorrow's animated feature studio. The panelists concluded that such a studio allows for artistic creativity as an immersive, intuitive process that is focused on storytelling rather than software-related problem-solving. Immersion was at the center of attention of three dedicated tracks; further emphasis was put on subjects such as 3D Printing, Interactive Novels and the regional characteristics of Ibero-America. In addition, Don Levy presented three sessions on "Visual Communication" ever since the origination of the book. Games were also part of the 2014 Transmedia experiences: Dennis Lenart (Telltale Games) walked the audience through the success of the award-winning game and Transmedia project The Walking Dead as part of the Serial Storytelling track.
FMX 2015 takes place May 5 to 8 in Stuttgart, Germany.