As a first time attendee of FMX2014, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience. The annual conference based in Stuttgart, Germany, features quality and in-depth talks on the Animation, Effects, Games and transmedia industries. The event started in 1994 and you can really feel all those years of experience putting this event together. In some ways you could say it’s the European Sigrapph, but that also does a good job at balancing technical and artistic talks.
There are so many simultaneous conferences that everyone’s experience will always be slightly different. I was lucky to attend some very inspiring talks from a wide variety of subjects. Here are my 3 FMX 2014 highlights:
1) ILM presentation on PLUME: A presentation by Olivier Maury focused on how Industrial Light & Magic tackles volume rendering using its proprietary package, Plume. Plume is a combination of a fluid dynamics solver and a volume renderer, both of which run entirely on the GPU. It has been heavily used in production since it was introduced in 2009 and quickly became the principal digital smoke and pyrotechnics tool used at ILM. Maury gave an overview of the the difficulties encountered when implementing a GPU rendering pipeline, but also showed some outstanding results. Even though the effects had to be rendered in sections due to the video cards memory limits, it gave the effect artists a really fast of iterating each render. He gave pretty a similar presentation at GTC which you can find online on youtube.
2) SIDEFX, Houdini Workshops: A series of presentations led by product specialist Jeff Wagner showing the power and flexibility of Houdini and Houdini Engine. The enthusiasm transmitted by the SideFX team was really contagious, showing a lot of passion for the development of Houdini and also rare care for their customers and users. It was a great overview of the software and a glimpse of what the future will look like with Houdini Engine. Stuart Aitken from Axis Animation also showed how they are using Houdini as the main core for their pipeline. All the rendering and FX of their game cinematics are now produced with Houdini.
3) Andy Serkis: Without a doubt, one of the highlights of FMX2014 was Andy Serkis’ talk about his performance work on “Dawn of the planet of the apes”. Extra security was in place for this event, asking attendees to deposit their phones and cameras before entering the room. Serkis passion for performance capture and his love and commitment to produce beautiful work was backed up by some exclusive footage of the movie. He also introduced his UK-based company imaginarium which develops a wide range of film & television projects, games and other digital applications. By far the most inspiring conference I attended at FMX2014.
Besides the extensive programme that FMX offers, a lot of the best information and insight can be found by just talking to your fellows attendees. If you are happy to socialize you will be meeting people from the entire scope of the industry. This is without a doubt a really powerful way to extend your network, and make some good friends on the way.
If you are looking for work opportunities, FMX also offers an excellent recruitment fair. Recruiters from all over the world are available for a chat and are happy to give you some valuable feedback on your work. Something you rarely get when sending an application to a company. It is also the opportunity to know about the on-going projects companies have in their pipeline.
My experience at FMX was truly amazing and a real treat. Definitely worth a visit if you can take a few days off your daily routine. Hopefully see you there next year.
If you are lucky you can still catch some of the FMX streaming here
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