View Conference 2017, held its 18th international computer graphics and digital media conference in Turin, Italy last month and our Brown Bag Dublin recruitment team, Roisin McIntosh and Evelyn Moriarty alongside our artists, Head of Character Assets Siobhan Doyle and Assistant 3D Supervisor Tomas Adame, were there waving the Brown Bag Films flag!
There was an absolutely stellar line up of talks and workshops, so we thought it best to pick the brains of our attendees and see what some of their favourite bits were, while it's all still fresh in their minds, so check out a recap of some of their highlights below:
Assistant 3D Supervisor Tomas Adame
Recap - Monday, 23rd October
Wake up early to catch a plane.
Land in Linate, Milan, to gorgeous weather - blue skies, no clouds, and around 20 degrees!
Jump into a black Mercedes van, like a superstar, and try to rest for 2 hours before we arrive in Turin.
Leave the hotel after a small break to freshen up, we run to find a place for lunch.
Find a nice vegetarian restaurant around the corner.
After that, I guide the team to the wrong place!!! DAMN! Then I realize that we should be going in the opposite direction... so we retrace our steps and go a bit further until we finally find the conference venue in the basement of a government building.
So, finally we can assemble the stand.
After taking a few pictures to record the moment, it is time to walk around the open area. A space of 10m x 30m with 8 booths for different studios and some of the Italian VFX Schools. There was also the space for the VR stand to test Oculus and other VR toys.
Once the recce of the area was complete we headed for a walk to discover a bit of Turin, also known as Torino.
Gorgeous architecture, stunning squares, and palaces and several well-known museums... with the added bonus of great weather (around 18 degrees during the day and 9 degrees at night).
In summary, Turin is a wonderful city!!!
Dinner and a cappuccino, of course!
Recap - Tuesday, 24th October
First day of attending talks and workshops!
We start the day looking through some beautiful animation and art books on a stand next to the main conference room. Siobhan compiles a shopping list.
I enjoy Kim White's talk about the Lighting of Cars 3. The most interesting thing is the attention to detail in every shot. How lighting can alter the mood and look of the scene, and playing with the shadows on the cars or the environments can help break the uniformity in the sets. Also discussed was how to manage lights in order to focus on the action and hide parts of the environment.
After the Pixar talk, I jump into Learning About Immersive Storytelling with Vicki Dobbs Beck from ILMxLAB. She talks about 'Carne y Arena' an immersive VR experience directed by Alejandro G. Iñarritu and how it depicts a compelling first person POV of crossing the US/Mexico border.
Other interesting topics were the different areas which they are developing at the moment - location-based immersive adventures, original episodic VR stories, and innovation experiments to develop future implementations and technologies.
Interesting to note is that as an avant-garde company, ILM are always at the cutting edge of technology so they have to be developing VR content right now, even if there is no real mainstream application at the moment, because they have to be ready when the market is mature enough.
I then chat to some students at the Brown Bag stand, discussing their portfolios, career opportunities and give some advice about their work and how to best present a demo reel to a studio. Always aiming to help them focus on and maximise their strengths.
The nerd in me drives me into the 'Unreal Engine for Enterprise and Studios' workshop with Enea Lefons from Epic Games. The ability to create almost real-time content using a game engine with production quality is a well-known technique currently used in many studios. And you can see the implementation of Unreal Engine in different areas like architecture, vehicle development, and game cinematics.
We finish Tuesday with a talk on Blade Runner 2049 by John Nelson, VFX Supervisor. He spoke about creating the digital double for the character of Rachel, the usage of miniatures to create some of the sets and the usage of set extensions in the junkyard scenes.
We finished the day with a panel about "The Future of Storytelling" - a roundtable talk with speakers, John Nelson, Joe Letteri, Simone Kraus, Eric Darnell, Vicki Dobbs Beck, and moderator Steve Beck, explaining their point of view on new ways to convey their stories on VR or streaming services that are challenging us currently. The key take-away is that story remains king no matter the technology, but that you aim to enhance your story through the medium used.
Recap - Wednesday, 25th October
Start the second day of talks with Jordi Garcia from Post 23. He talks about how a small studio can survive in this global world. He breaks down their pipeline to show how they reduce stages for better control, something that's extremely important when you work on tight deadlines for commercials.
Their multiple award-winning Audi commercial is simply great:
...and the Making-Of:
After that, I run into a masterclass on 'Procedural and Production Techniques Using Houdini' with Deborah Fowler.
The implementation of mathematics to model assets procedurally is something that amazes me... it's one of the things currently lacking in Maya and other DCC packages.
After chatting with some more students at the Brown Bag booth, it is time to run into a talk about droids, creatures, and spaceships with Animation Director Hal Hickel.
The most amazing part was the development of the CG double for Grand Moff Governor Wilhuff Tarkin. In my opinion what was accomplished in the test far exceeds what was seen in the Rogue One movie. Hal explained how they were very lucky to have a mask of Peter Cushing's face made in 1984 for the film Top Secret! That was their starting point. From there, they studied the tones of the original Star Wars: Episode IV to try and capture all the details necessary to bring the CG double to life. Something really subtle like the jiggle of the dewlap was added into the animation to add realism.
The development test images and videos that were shown were simply stunning. Hal said that the controversy over the accuracy of the digital double is due to the different lighting setups used in the movies, with Rogue One being very different to the original, an assertion I feel is correct. :P
More reading for anyone interested in this can be found:
And that's all from me folks! I had a great experience in Turin with my workmates. And I'm eager to head back to this part of Italy, to walk around the streets, discover new places, food and any of the things I didn't experience this time around.
Head of Character Assets Siobhan Doyle
The city of Turin itself was a big highlight of the conference! The lights and colours of the city are so different to those I experience at home in Dublin. Every building has beautiful architectural appeal. Even the sky was like a sunset from a painting.
I loved how the parks are open and ungated, just large open spaces and the streets are filled with little restaurants serving their own specials and local wines.
Grassinopoli was the best meal I had all week! It's a dish of beef cooked in a batter of bread sticks, which was not entirely apparent from the menu. We found that even Google had a hard time translating some of the local dishes but it forced us to take some risks, and I for one was not disappointed!
On our first evening setting up was really quiet. Only a few of the other studios had begun to prepare their stands. But by morning, it had begun to pick up and I went to check out my first talk - The Lighting of Cars 3 by Kim White, Director of Photography.
If anyone asks, lighting is not my area! But I think it's probably one of the most important elements of visual communication and storytelling, and I have an enormous amount of respect for it.
In Cars 3, the light told the emotional story. The state of the characters, and the quality of the light synergised to enhance the narrative.
But what really struck me about Kim Whites talk was how much energy went into putting things into shadow. Over and over, she gave examples of when detail had to be played down in order to improve the focus on the point character or to enhance the composition.
Back at the Brown Bag booth, it was great to see artists that were in the midst of defining their career alongside students who hadn't even started.
We got to look through portfolios and give comments and advice, and while a lot of the work was top notch, the same advice seemed to apply again and again:
- Be concise
- Focus on your strengths
We found that both student and professional portfolios just contained far too much content, when they should just be honing it down to the very best selection of their work.
And, of course, it helps to have tailored reels. A reel for a VFX artist, or a 2D animator won't make much of an impression when applying for a 3D animator position, no matter how good it is! It's always best to curate the reel to the role being sought out.
Another of the talks I saw that has really stayed with me was 'The Creative Collaboration Behind The Little Prince' by the Director, Mark Osborne.
This movie was made for me! Le Petit Prince was a book that inspired me when I was a child and papercraft is something I go back to again and again.
The book covers some extremely mature topics in a way that is fully accessible for an audience of all ages, and I still love it today!
The movie was split between typical CG for the "real world" and papercraft stop-motion depicting the imaginings of the little girl and the story of the little prince himself.
I'll leave you with a quote from the talk that I find captures the essence of the creative process:
What is essential is invisible to the eye, and what is truly essential to art, is the artists.
And there you have it! We hope you enjoyed our recap and hope to see you there next time!