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Press Release #6 - Avengers 2, Mark deLoura, BabyX and others finalize the program

Ludwigsburg, April 28, 2015. With exactly one week left before FMX opens its doors, Europe's most influential conference on digital entertainment has finalized its multifaceted array of high-quality presentations. Not only does David Morin (Autodesk) bring together the latest highlights in Virtual Production that include the current Marvel instalment Avengers 2- Age of Ultron, but Games for Change Europe also returns with Mark DeLoura, the former White House Senior Advisor for Digital Media. Highlights abound when VR innovators, such as the Matrix "bullet-time" contributor George Borshukov and John Root (from the popular start-up Magic Leap) draw the crowds at FMX. Furthermore, industry expert Mk Haley as well as Mark Sagar, whose brainchild BabyX currently revolutionizes our understanding of autonomous machines, have confirmed their coming. With the support of its main partners Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart (AMCRS), Autodesk, Backstage and MAXON, FMX is thus sure to bring the people and projects that continue to define digital entertainment as we know it to Stuttgart next week.

Virtual Production returns with Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and more

For the fourth year in a row, David Morin (Autodesk) brings the latest innovations in the field of Virtual Production - i.e. the ability to prototype and develop stories through pre-visualization and real-time on-set visualization - to FMX. Renowned professionals such as Ron Frankel (Proof), Duncan Burbidge (The Third Floor), Rob Bredow (Industrial Light & Magic), Al Lopez (Stargate Studios), Milke Sanders (Activision, Central Studios) and Brett Ineson (Animatrik Film Design Inc.) provide insights into their most recent projects and techniques, ranging from virtual camera layout to the creation of a digital Kevin Spacey. Among the illustrious film and game delights is the latest Marvel installment Avengers 2: Age of Ultron as well as last year's superhero favorite Guardians of the Galaxy and the science-fiction action movie Transformers: Age of Extinction - which is still the highest-grossing movie in China.

Industry heavyweights reveal studio insights

 "Studio Insights" (hosted by Dave Gougé, Weta Digital) brings together five professionals whose work continues to shape digital entertainment to provide unique perspectives on how the film and visual effects industries work and what the future holds. Victoria Alonso (Marvel), Chris deFaria (Warner Bros. Pictures), Ty Warren (Legendary Pictures), Marc Weigert (Method Studios) and Scott Ross share their personal thoughts and experiences, offering rare insights into the business side of the films we see on screen.

Former White House Advisor Mark DeLoura headlines the Games for Change Europe track

As both the media and society itself have picked up on the relevance of serious games or games for impact, Games for Change Europe (curated by Katharina Tillmanns) continues to raise awareness for this particular branch of entertainment. This year's series of presentations is headlined by Mark deLoura, the former Senior Advisor for Digital Media at the White House Office of Science and Technology, who has pushed the utilization of games beyond a mere entertainment purpose to address societal challenges. At FMX, he sheds light on his work and learnings, asking how governments and individuals can get involved in this process of expanding horizons. His talk is accompanied by presentations that back up his argument. For one, there is Tobias Frisch of Studio Fizbin who has just won the prestigious "Deutscher Computerspielpreis" in the category "Best Innovation" for Game for Peace, a game that teaches players about the struggles that had to be overcome to establish the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War in 1648. Further impressive examples of serious gaming come from Yoan Fanise who explains the worldwide success of Digixart's The Great War that counts more than 2 million players and Dima Veryovka (E-Line Media) who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the art creation process for the game Never Alone that breathes with Iñupiaq cultural influences. Moreover, Yoan Cuttilas, Adrian Jacques and Stéphane Natkin (Cnam-Enjmin) reveal how I was a child was developed - a game that puts you in the shoes of a young girl in a civil war context.

From VFX to VR - Matrix innovators, augmented reality and more

The "From VFX to VR" track looks right into the future. Presentations cover the whole range of VR - from the adaptation of cinematic storytelling for live action VR experiences (Ian Hunter, New Deal Studios) to Microsoft's HoloLens, the world's first holographic computing platform (Alex Laurant). Ray Davis and Kim Libreri (Epic Games) demonstrate how the convergence of videogames and movies finally becomes possible. Framestore's Mike McGee shares his thoughts on the usability of different platforms for different kinds of VR and Rewind's Solomon Rogers introduces the Red Bull Air Race Virtual Reality Simulator that catapults the user into the pilot's seat. Moreover, George Borshukov (Intervisual Corp.), who has worked on the Matrix trilogy and contributed vastly to the "bullet time" that defines one of the key scenes in movie history, talks VR/AR for Apparel Shopping. In addition, Matthias Wittmann spotlights DAQRI's 4D augmented reality innovations and John Root (Magic Leap) discloses his thoughts on the future of immersive entertainment. The track is complemented by two celebrity-studded panels: One explores the reality of VR "beyond the hype" (hosted by Sebastian Sylwan, Visual Effects and Digital Media Technology Executive) and the other one looks at the "road ahead" (hosted by Neil Schneider, Executive Director of The Immersive Technology Alliance) of what is changing and about to change.

From the Science behind VR to Theme Parks & Special Venues

The technical and scientific aspects of VR are a key topic at FMX. Paul Debevec (USC Institute for Creative Technologies) details the technical specifics of light fields for virtual reality that will eventually allow for the integration of different viewpoints into the final VR experience, while Mark Mine (Walt Disney Engineering) expands the focus to look at the worldwide search for the Ultimate Display. Moreover, Ken Perlin explains how far the NYU Media Research Lab has come in developing a wireless Virtual Reality experience. The "Theme Parks & Special Venues" track, curated by Brent D. Strong (Walt Disney Imagineering), takes place for the second time. FMX is happy to welcome Mk Haley to FMX, who has worked at the Walt Disney Company since 1994 and served as the SIGGRAPH 2013 Conference Chair. She reveals how the Master of Entertainment Technology graduate program (Carnegie Mellon University), which she co-developed, allows students to build virtual worlds and invent new forms of storytelling. In addition, Mark Mine and Brad Herman (DreamWorks Animation) dive into the family-friendly and fully immersive VR experiences that the two industry leaders have created with their theme parks.

Transmedia Experiences: Baby X and Visual Communication

The Virtual Human Forum has assembled an impressive line-up: For example, there is Associate Professor Mark Sagar (Laboratory Animate Technologies, Laboratory for Animate Technologies, Auckland Bioengineering Institute), who has been working on the viral experiment in learning BabyX - a 3D-simulated baby that reacts to the person on the other side of the screen, using biologically plausible learning models including association, conditioning and reinforcement learning. Sagar discloses his lab's approach to creating autonomous virtual humans. Christopher Nichols (Chaos Group) explains the efforts in creating the "Wikihuman: The Open Source Digital Human Project," Luca Fascione (Weta Digital) shares his company's strive for believability and Ari Shapiro (USC Institute for Creative Technologies) describes his research with a focus on the rapid creation of affordable, controllable 3D characters. Furthermore, the Visual Communication Summit (curated by Don Levy, Smith Brook Farm) encompasses talks on the methods of making Virtual Reality more emotionally evocative (PhD Jacquelyn Morie, All the Worlds), on creating associative and accessible worlds for children along the autism spectrum (Dr. Diana Arellano, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg) as well as a panel discussion on the topic.

Panel Discussions from Animation Direction to Women in Visual Arts

A multitude of panel discussions highlight the demand for debate and exchange at FMX. As part of the focus on art, there is a panel discussion on directing animated feature films with DreamWorks Animation's Dean Deblois (How to Train Your Dragon 2), Illumination Mac Guff's Kyle Balda (Minions) and Mikros Image's Louis Clichy (Asterix and the Mansion of the Gods). Terrence Masson (Building Conversation) shifts his attention to Virtual Reality and assembles renowned personalities to discuss "VR and AR Business and Tech Development - Big Risks, Big Rewards." Finally, there is a dedicated panel discussion on the role and representation of "Women in Visual Arts" with five professionals from the Visual Arts industry: Victoria Alonso (Marvel), Diana Arellano (Filmakademie Baden Wuerttemberg), Andrea Block (LUXX), Simone Kraus (Trixter) and Katharina Tillmanns (Games for Change Europe).

Building a World from Scratch: The Rilao Workshop at FMX

The Science of Fiction and USC World Building Institute present "The Fictional Archipelago of Rilao": a world build workshop. World Building is a narrative practice in which the design of a world precedes the telling of a story; the richly detailed world becomes a container for narratives. This practice has been utilized and professionalized by the World Building Institute. The name-giving "Rilao" is an island city formed from the chance encounter of the DNA of Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles. USC professor Jeff Watson's Rilao Remote Viewing Protocol, which was initially utilized at the 2014 Science of Fiction event where it stimulated the development of over 1,000 stories in a one-day world build, will also play a role at the Rilao world build. Multiple narratives will be developed that produce rich and surprising outcomes, and investigate new creative collaborations for vast narrative development.

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Press Release #6 (pdf): <media 5752>German</media> / <media 5751>English</media>

FMX is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the City of Stuttgart and MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg, taking place in cooperation with the VES Visual Effects Society and ACM SIGGRAPH. FMX is an event by the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, organized by Animationsinstitut, hosting the Animation Production Days (APD), a joint venture with the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS).

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