Program 2018


Evolution of Virtual Production at a Film School

Volker Helzle (Filmakademie), Simon Spielmann (Filmakademie)

This talk will cover Virtual Production tools developed at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, tracing the evolution from 2007 to the latest open-source development VPET (Virtual Production Editing Tools). 

Over the last decades the process of filmmaking has been subject to constant virtualization. Empty green screen stages leave the entire on-set crew clueless as virtual elements are combined or added to live action footage at later stages of the production. With the development of virtual production workflows, solutions have been introduced that enable the decision-makers to explore the virtually augmented reality. This talk will cover the early use of game engine technology for VFX productions, previsualisation tools and intense research carried out in the EU funded project Dreamspace resulting in VPET (Virtual Production Editing Tools). VPET follows a holistic approach for established film pipelines that allows on-set light, asset and animation editing via an intuitive interface. The system communicates through a network interface with Digital Content Creation (DCC) tools and other VPET clients. Most recently a support for Apple AR Kit became available and with it a full set of new potential use-cases.  

Volker Helzle

Volker Helzle, Head of Research & Development / TD Supervisor, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg,

Volker Helzle is in charge of Research and Development at Animationsinstitut of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. After graduating from HDM Stuttgart Media University (Dipl. Ing. AV-Medien) in 2000 he moved to California and worked for three years at Eyematic Interfaces (later acquired by Google). Volker quickly advanced to team-lead in charge of the Los Angeles based Content Development Group where his team pioneered facial performance capture substantially contributing to the engineering and development of the Eyematic Facestation.

In 2003 he joined Filmakademie as supervisor of the research and development department at Animationsinstitut. The primary focus of his first few years at Filmakademie was the development of facial animation tools. This led to one of the first plausible technology tests, realizing a virtual actor in an exemplary VFX production. During the past 15 years he raised funding for a substantial amount of regional and European Union funded projects in the scope of Animation, VFX, Virtual Production and Immersive Media. The most recent projects SAUCE includes a consortium of 9 partners. SAUCE will focus on smart reuse and transformation of assets, machine learning for asset retrieval and lightfield technology. The results of this projects have a massive impact on establishing new production techniques across all departments of Filmakademie.

In 2013 Volker Helzle received the honorary professorship of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. In addition to the technical research Volker is the designated senior lecturer for the postgraduate Technical Director (TD) course at Filmakademie. TDs tackle the technological challenges of Animation, VFX and Transmedia productions at Filmakademie. The close relation to the research group allows students to engage in multidisciplinary projects.

As a program consultant he contributes to the organization of the annual FMX conference.

Being a C-64 kid of the 80ties, Volker's life was strongly influenced by video games and early computer graphics. To this day he is a passionate gamer but also finds interest in completely analogical activities like mountain hiking, gardening or yoga.

Simon Spielmann

Simon Spielmann, Principal R&D Engineer, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg,

Simon Spielmann is part of the R&D Department at Animationsinstitut of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg with focus on software development, real-time graphics and VR. In 2009, he graduated from Bauhaus-University Weimar as Media Scientist and Mathematician. He started his career as a freelance software developer in 2006, three years later he joined the research team at Animationsinstitut. Today, Simon is the Principal Engineer at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. He is also responsible for the scientific counselling and supervision of the Technical Director Course at the Animationsinstitut.

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, supported by the Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart (AMCRS), Autodesk, Backstage, Epic Games/Unreal Engine, Foundry, Mackevision and ScanlineVFX. 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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