As busy creative professionals, it can be easy to lose sight of the impact that we have on audiences. We often find ourselves caught up in the day-to-day demands of projects and schedules and fall out of touch with the bigger picture of why we do what we do. Nothing can correct this trend better than a few days surrounded by colleagues, peers and talented students who share our interests and passion for storytelling and entertaining audiences. The right conference brings these elements together and produces more than a collection of presentations– it connects and inspires us in ways that cannot be measured. The collaborative atmosphere encourages us to reach beyond the comfortable and safe boundaries of what we do and strive for the next steps that will define the future of the industry. The FMX 2014 conference in Stuttgart, Germany provided this atmosphere and much more for all of those who attended and contributed to the show.
Thousands of the industry’s brightest and most talented individuals came together from 48 countries to meet and share their work and ideas at FMX. Short for “Film and Media Exchange,” FMX has historically focused on the film, animation, effects, and gaming industries, but new tracks were introduced this year that brought transmedia and physical interactives to the program. These subjects balanced the show with experiences that reach beyond the screen.
I was humbled and excited to be included with several talented presenters in the “Interaction in the Real World” portion of the FMX program hosted by Doug Cooper of DreamWorks Animation. My presentation, “Responsive Environments: Blurring the Lines Between Physical and Digital Worlds,” introduced the concepts of more open-ended (non-linear) storytelling experiences and the creation of rich environments that can envelop audiences in layers of narrative. The opportunity to contribute to the show and share our work was rewarding and exciting, and exposing the audience to real-world examples of our work and processes resonated well with the conference.
With so many great demonstrations and presentations, it was difficult to pick out personal highlights, but here are a few that stuck with me: Alex Meagher Grau presented his studio’s work and the process behind the creation of 360-degree immersive media (stories that play out through VR headsets and allow viewers to see any portion of the presentation they choose by looking around in real time as the story plays out). Tobias Kinnebrew of Bot & Dolly presented his unique work which combines live performance, projection mapping, and giant industrial robots. Alex McDowell led several engaging discussions about new educational models and the future of animation production, including the new tools and collaborative methods for bringing together increasingly diverse groups of creative professionals spread out around the world to create award-winning films and media productions.
The creative energy present at this year’s FMX show was contagious and provided the opportunity to raise our heads above the fray of day-to-day work to catch a glimpse of a bright and exciting future of the media industry. Students and professionals alike came away with renewed inspiration and passion for our work and its impact on audiences. If that doesn’t define a great conference, I’m not sure what does! Many thanks to the committees and organizers for including us and providing a star-studded and highlight-filled week of workshops, presentations, and media at this year’s FMX show.
— Matt Arnold, Lead Integration Engineer