fxguide’s guide to FMX 2013

fxguide is once again proud to be a media partner for FMX – the yearly animation, effects, games and transmedia conference held in Stuttgart, Germany and organized by the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg. This year FMX goes from April 23 to 26 at Haus der Wirtschaft, right in the center of Stuttgart.

We think FMX is one of the most diverse and rewarding effects-related conferences in the world to attend – for students, artists and industry. We’ll be there each day reporting on the presentations. We hope, as well, to meet up with fxguide readers and fxphd members.

FMX takes place at Haus der Wirtschaft & Gewerkschaftshaus.
FMX takes place at Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart.

Program chair Jean-Michel Blottière offered the following description to fxguide as a measure of the importance of FMX and as a pre-cursor of what to expect from the conference:

“2013 is a very specific year for the industries FMX addresses. ‘Paradigm shift’ are not just anymore nice words ‘that go together well’ but a tough reality that VFX, Animation, Transmedia, Mobile, and Games studios are facing. The world is changing. Very fast. Power centers are moving from California to Canada, India, China, UK, Germany, France, governments are supporting local industries and the ‘Subsidies Race’ is more intense than ever. Production pipelines are getting more and more complex. Creating Visual Effects or games are burning more time, more money, more teams than ever. Independent talents have access to tools they were not even dreaming of. And they use them. Fast and furiously! Traditional ‘giants’ have to fight back. Awakenings are sometimes extremely painful. We are lucky enough to be part of these times of crisis, which are, as usual, fantastic opportunities to grow and learn. A lot of discussions regarding what we would call the ‘Crisis and Awakening’ will take place at FMX, including during our very influential ‘CEO Summits’ (invitation only) or our ‘Games for Change’ series of talks. ‘Lean, Smart, Agile’ will definitely be the key words at FMX 2013.”


Like SIGGRAPH and other conferences, it’s simply impossible to get to everything at FMX, but luckily the venues are all close-by. Some of the halls and rooms fill up very early and not all have spill-over areas. Planning is key. Below is an outline of the material, presentations and screenings on offer across the four days.

The cutting edge

One of the FMX 2013 tracks is called ‘Paradigm Shift’, truly a great title to cover things that every artist and industry player should be aware of. There’s discussion here in presentations on open source, cloud computing, previs, games, virtual production, crowdfunding and global pipelines.

Visual effects

Certainly the cornerstone of FMX is its wide breadth of presentations on visual effects. Just to name a few, you’ll hear about concept design on Pacific Rim (William Cheng, Set Designer), Cloud Atlas (RISE), Life of Pi (Rhythm & Hues), Framestore’s Galaxy Audrey Hepburn spot, The Mill on their Guinness TVC, Framestore again on the Skyfall opener, Iron Man 3 (Trixter, Weta Digital), Warm Bodies (Look Effects), Oz (Imageworks), Oblivion (Pixomondo) and Wolfblood (Trixter). Extra highlights are a breakdown of MPC’s art and design work over the past 9 years, and a panel discussion on the state of the industry.

Chris Kenny, Compositing Supervisor, Rhythm & Hues will present on Life of Pi.
Chris Kenny, Compositing Supervisor, Rhythm & Hues will present on Life of Pi.

FMX is one of the best (and only) places to see behind the scenes breakdowns of animated films and shows. This year there are talks from Walt Disney Animation on Wreck-it-Ralph, Pixar on Brave, Blue Sky on the cinematography of Epic, Dreamworks Animation on The Croods and Mac Guff on Despicable Me 2. The keynote animation talk will be from Pixar’s Saschka Unseld on his new short The Blue Umbrella.

Technology round-up

These are the serious in-depth presentations, tackling specific aspects of a production. Think, stereo in Frankenweenie, 3D at Pixar, point-based global-illumination at Dreamworks Animation, behind the scenes of Katana at Imageworks, camera physics with Technocrane and several other presentations on stereoscopy. This is also the place to hear first hand from researchers and practitioners in the field of computer graphics, such as:

  • Exploring Shape Variations by 3D-Model Decomposition and Part-based Recombination – Thorsten Thormaehlen (MPI Informatik)
  • Data-Driven Estimation of Cloth Simulation Models – Derek Bradley (Disney Research Zurich)
  • Accelerated Rendering using Reprojection Techniques – Huw Bowles (Studio Gobo)
  • Realtime Disparity Map-Based Pictorial Depth Cue Enhancement – Christoph Roessing (DAG)
  • Metering for Exposure Stacks – Dr. Kari Pulli (NVIDIA)

You may have noticed more and more games coverage at fxguide – that’s a reflection of the inevitable cross-over between game production, animation and visual effects. At FMX 2013, there’ll be insights into game design, art and programming. Some sessions to watch out for will feature hair simulations in Tomb Raider, physically based shading in game engines, the making of Crysis 3, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Halo 4, and the advent of game engines for cinematics and storytelling.

Worldly insights

Certainly, many of the visual effects and animation presentations at FMX 2013 will already be from the four corners of the earth, but the conference also specifically focuses this year on innovation taking place in Turkey, Toronto and Austria.


Covering rapid prototyping, 3D printing, game creation, mobile and more, the Transmedia track offers new insights into how we use various mediums. The track also includes the Virtual Humans Forum, where presentations on crowd sims by Golaem and Massive will be accompanied by talks on digital humans.

Pixar's The Blue Umbrella short will be showcased at several presentations.
Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella short will be showcased at several presentations.

These generally longer sessions are designed to go in-depth behind particular aspects of film and animation production. Here you can attend a ‘Story for Artists & Scientists’ session and an ‘Acting for Animators’ class. There’s even an ‘Elemental Magic’ workshop designed to showcase the practical origins of modern dynamic fluid effects.

Workshops and Marketplace

Several major software companies will be at FMX 2013 demo’ing their wares and with real-world case studies. Here’s just a few of the proposed presentations:

  • Chaos Group – Setting up a V-Ray shading and lighting pipeline
  • MAXON Computer GmbH – Motion Graphics with After Effects and CINEMA 4D
  • Adobe Systems Europe Ltd – Adobe & CelAction Animation Pipeline with Sarah & Duck a BBC Worldwide CBeebies animated TV Series
  • Chaos Group – Rendering Superpower: V-Ray in Production at Industrial Light & Magic
  • Imagineer Systems – mocha Pro – Tracking & Visual Effects Workshop from Imagineer Systems
  • Red Giant – Visual Storytelling with Red Giant
  • metaio GmbH – Easy Augmented Reality Creation with metaio Creator and Blender
  • Side Effects Software – Destruction FX in Houdini 12.5
  • Side Effects Software – Procedural Modeling in Houdini 12.5
  • faceshift – faceshift workshop on facial motion capture
  • MAXON Computer GmbH – Planning for After Effects when Preparing CINEMA 4D projects
  • Autodesk – Autodesk Student Experience
  • Adobe Systems Europe Ltd – Colour Grading with Speedgrade Premiere Pro & Magic Bullet
  • Solid Angle – Solid Angle and the Arnold Renderer
  • Esri – Hacking Cities: The Future of 3D City Modeling
  • Next Limit Technologies – RealFlow 2013 – Take the Tour
  • 3Lateral – Deconstructing creation of high end animated face of a digital double
  • Side Effects Software – Cloud FX and OpenVDB in Houdini 12.5
  • Blender Foundation – Tears of Steel – making a short VFX film with Blender
  • Side Effects Software – Lighting, Rendering and Alembic in Houdini 12.5
  • Utopia People – UtopiaPeople presents UtopiaBook, a new VFX talent management system
  • Digimania Ltd – Muvizu – Revolutionising animation with real-time graphics
  • Next Limit Technologies – Maxwell Render
  • BOO Games – Supporting Games: Funding Opportunities and Communication Challenges
  • MAXON Computer GmbH – Multi-Pass Compositing of CINEMA 4D Projects in After Effects
  • Mighty Instruments – Mighty Tiles Pro Workshop
  • Shotgun Software – Shotgun 5.0 Sneak Peak – Artist and Supervisor Tools
  • Chaos Group – Kon-Tiki: Real-life graphics for real-life heroes
  • Side Effects Software – Ocean FX and FLIP Fluids in Houdini 12.5
  • Blender Foundation – Blender Cycles – full BSDF shading & raytracing on GPU and CPU
  • Side Effects Software – Character FX in Houdini 12.5
  • Dreamwalks – The SCRATCH Post-Circle – Premium Postproduction with Assimilate SCRATCH
  • Adobe Systems Europe Ltd – DSLR workflows with Photoshop & Premiere Pro
  • MAXON Computer GmbH – MAXON CINEMA 4D R14 – NUKE 7 Production Workflows
  • Dreamwalks – Looking good with Colorado – grading workflow utilizing Assimilate´s Scratch
  • Adobe Systems Europe Ltd – Colour Grading with Speedgrade Premiere Pro & Magic Bullet
  • SAP Innovation Center – SAP HANA in-memory database technology application in VP

Several companies will also be exhibiting at the Marketplace, including at² GmbH, Chaos Group, Golaem, Hafner’s Büro, Institut für Informatik Universität Freiburg: Partikelbasierte Fluid-Simulation, Laubwerk, metaio, Ncam, nexonar, QOOBEE, Realtime Visions, SolidAnim, Technocrane, The Captury, The Muses of Poetry and Volumerics.


Students and artists will be able to talk first-hand to companies like Framestore, Method Studios, Axis Animation, TOPALSSON, Traffix Entertainment, Walt Disney Animation Studios, MPC, Mackevision Medien Design, Double Negative, LIGA 01, The Mill and LUXX Studios, who will also presenting on their studios.


Here’s your chance to see the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival films. There’s also a ton of animated shorts being screened, along with Filmakademie student films (many of which are often VES-nominated) and DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods. The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) runs throughout FMX at a local cinema.