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Review: A Look Back At FMX 2016

// Reviews (Event)

Every year at the end of April the FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia in conjunction with ITFS take over Stuttgart to celebrate all things animated. Friday the 29th of April heralded the end of the 21st FMX Conference with this year seeing an all time high attendance with 3,500 attendees from 52 different countries, two thirds of which were professionals and one third students. The four days were packed with workshops, master classes and lectures from some of the industry’s most prominent including Walt Disney Animation Studio’s, Pixar, DreamWorks, Aardman and individuals including Nick Cross and Ed Hooks running his famous ‘Acting for Animators’ workshop.

FMX 2016 Stuttgart

The conference runs in different venues throughout the city, but primarily Haus der Wirtschaft where, along with the many presentations, there is also a market place to explore the latest technology, the recruiting hub where companies such as Illumination MacGuff are looking to hire new employees and the school campus where people can familiarise themselves with the latest courses and projects from international film and media schools. In total there were 260 different speakers and forum partners this year, making FMX one of the largest conferences of its type in the world.

FMX 2016 Star Wars

Although the conference covers many aspects of the entertainment industry, animation always has a prominent fixture in the line up. Every year companies present the work they did on the latest releases and this year that included talks on Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016), Inside Out (2015), The Good Dinosaur (2015), Zootropolis (2016) and Peanuts (2015) among others. There are also a range of presentations on film theory and technique such as ‘Cinematography and Stop Motion’ by Dave Alex Riddett from Aardman which looked at lighting, tricks and techniques used on set to create beautifully crafted films including the Shaun the Sheep the Movie (2015), Pirates (2012) and the Wallace and Gromit films.

FMX 2016 Aardman

One of the major highlights was the presentation on Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) and the concept art that went into producing the film. Here the audience got a taste of the many hours that go into the art before the production team can begin to create the film. Max Boas and Raymond Zibach covered many aspects including character design and the challenges faced by the rigging team converting the 2D concept art into a 3D character. They spoke about lighting and colour, including the different colour themes running throughout the film that has been established previously in the series and the challenges created in maintaining continuity, but also the symbolism associated with these colours. This symbolism continued by the inclusion of Master Oogway’s peach tree in the spirit realm and overall it was great to get such an insight into the depth of artwork and thought that goes into making an animated feature like Kung Fu Panda (2008).

KFP3 Oogway

Another great highlight was a talk by Tanja Krampfert from Pixar called ‘The Creation of Joy’ where she talked about the challenges of creating a character that is so loose and free. Krampfert began by addressing the design stage where Pixar artists figured out Joy’s design was based on a star, coloured yellow to represent vibrant energy like fire and blue hair that came as a result of her original design as a flame. The talk went on to cover the difficulties of modelling, rigging and animating a character like Joy whose movements are based on a 2D animation style, which can be seen prominently when you watch her movements frame by frame. Unlike the usual process animators didn’t watch live acted reference videos to help animate Joy, instead they watched a lot of old cartoons and used abundant squash and stretch to add extra bounce to her character.

Joy

The recruitment hub and recruitment talks are run all week and can be useful for students trying to get feedback on their reel or portfolio and potentially their first job, along with professionals looking to take the next step in their career. Having the ability to ask numerous questions about what top employers within the industry are looking for in applicants and applications can be invaluable. A lot of these questions are often covered in recruitment presentations where employers talk about the culture of their studio, what to do to get certain positions, opportunities including internships and apprentices and show examples of work that has been accepted by the studio.

Illumination MacGuff

Along with major studios there are also numerous individuals and smaller studios who present at FMX including Philip Hunt from Studio AKA, Chris Robinson from Ottawa Animation Festival and Nick Cross who is currently working at Cartoon Network. Nick Cross’ insightful talk covered his career in the animation industry working as a 2D artist and animator at different studios over the years while following his passion as an independent animator. His enthusiastic work ethic was palpable, working everyday as an art director on Cartoon Networks Over the Garden Wall (2014) and then returning to his LA apartment each night to work on his one material, including a full length feature film.

Pigfarmer

If you want to satisfy your curiosity about the wider industry there are also a range of other presentations to see including talks on VFX such as ‘The VFX of the Jungle Book’ and ‘The Visual Effects of Captain America: Civil War’. If you are interested in games, lectures such as ‘The Cinematic of Halo 5’ and ‘PS VR World Creation’ should peak your interest. This year’s theme was ‘Blending Realities’ and it is becoming more apparent that the lines between film, TV and games are becoming blurred with the introduction of new technologies including VR. FMX is fantastic to get up to date with the latest technological advances. In the words of Ed Hooks, ‘You leave here knowing what the state of the art is… There are very few functions around the world like this.’

Jungle Book

Each year at FMX we see how far the industry has come and the many software, hardware and artistic advancements that have occurred over the last twelve-month period. So as we say goodbye or ‘auf wiedersehen’ to this years FMX Conference we can all look forward to a year of development and creation ready for FMX 2017.

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