Forum Series The Houdini Series
Thursday, May 06, ROOM H brought to you by HOUDINI, 18:10

The Houdini Series: Live Q&A and Exchange

To encourage the FMX community to connect in the virtual almost as closely as in the physical world, the online audience will be able join FMX speakers in Zoom rooms via video or audio chat. Beyond asking questions, you can chat and network with speakers and other participants. Look forward to truly interact with other media creators from around the globe and share your experiences at FMX 2021!

Join the speakers from The Houdini Series in the live Q&A and exchange and ask all your questions!

Hristo Arabadzhiyski, Houdini Artist, 9to3 Animation

A Houdini artist on his self-taught journey to be a TD. A designer by trade and a marketing specialist by education, he picked up 3D as a hobby over a decade and a half ago. That hobby has since branched out into proceduralism, manipulating geometry with VEX, building HDAs, shading & rendering with RenderMan, compositing, film photography, and traditional sculpting. One underlying philosophy binds all these together, and that is his drive for bold non-photoreal stylization and expressive qualities.

Mike Chrobak, Lead Effects Technical Director, Weta Digital

Mike was recently Lead Effects Technical Director on Godzilla vs. Kong. He worked closely with Weta Digital’s artists and developers to evolve the tools his team later used to populate the movie’s massive environments with a huge variety of plants and large-scale hero plant destruction. 

Mike joined Weta Digital to create visual effects for Avengers: Infinity War. He worked on the extensive destruction and volumetric shots for the epic showdown, which won Weta Digital a VES Award for Outstanding Effects Simulation. He then worked on Mortal Engines and key shots for Avengers: Endgame’s climactic final battle, including the destruction of the Avenger’s Compound, Thor’s lightning and hero mortar explosions, amongst many others. 

Having launched his VFX career in 2014 at MPC, Mike gained experience working across multiple films. An early highlight was contributing to the development of the water simulations which featured extensively in The Finest Hours.

Marco Dorner, Lead Lighting TD, Rebellion VFX

Marco Dörner started to make movies with LEGO at the age of 10 and when he realized there weren't enough bricks he turned to 3D - and hasn't left it since. After working as a freelancer in video post-production for a while he focused his efforts on lighting, rendering and compositing for full CGI trailers, feature films and TV shows. In his spare time he plays with voxelart which he finds fascinating - probably because it resembles those beautiful bricks from his childhood.

Sarah Forcier, Software Engineer, Pixar's RenderMan

Sarah Forcier joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2018 as the lead developer for the RenderMan for Houdini plugin. Over the last couple years, she has rewritten RenderMan’s Houdini integration, worked to support the latest Houdini features, and presented this work at FMX and Siggraph. Prior to Pixar, Sarah studied at Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania.

Ahmed Gharraph, Head of CG, Framestore

Ahmed is Framestore’s Joint Head of CG and holds an impressive CV which includes having worked on some of the biggest film, television and advertising projects. From his roles on the likes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ready Player One, His Dark Materials and to his Emmy Award nomination for his role as VFX Supervisor on HBO’s Watchmen. Ahmed’s approach to any project is to create the most engaging and exciting visuals possible. Having started his career in the CG department at MPC in 2007 after gaining his BSc in 3D Computer Animation, Ahmed’s continued success both as an artist and as a Head of Department can be seen in his numerous industry accolades. Most recently he received an Emmy nomination for his role in bringing Dr Manhattan to life in HBO’s Watchmen and a VES nomination for a photoreal stag in Netflix’s The Crown which many couldn’t tell was in fact fully-digital.

Ernst Janssen Groesbeek, IBR look development artist, 9to3 Animation

Ernst is educated in Architecture and Architectural Engineering, specializing in Computer Visualizations. Ernst started contributing to the Graphics and Animation industry as an Assistant professor at the Chair of Design Informatics, Faculty of Architecture at Delft University. After educating students for 18 years, he founded 9to3animation in 2014. To expand his knowledge and creative endeavors. He continued his career by designing and developing imagination-based – non-photorealistic – shading and lighting methods used in several national and international productions. Together with Christos Obretenov, he set out on a journey to explore the possibilities of Imagination Based Rendering. They are the early adopters of Pixar's RenderMan plug-in that enables film and animation studio's to create their unique style.

Christopher Hiess, CG Supervisor, Arx Anima

Christopher Hiess is currently the CG Supervisor at arx anima, after starting out as a Lead lighter 4 years ago. His career in the VFX industry began as a QA engineer at The Foundry on the Academy Award winning software Mari. Following his dreams to be an FX TD, he joined Double Negative and worked on projects such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dunkirk and the Oscar winning Ex Machina.Christopher has been in the computer graphics industry for the last 12 years, working on everything from games, to vfx and animation.

Ben Lutz, Senior pipeline TD, Arx Anima

Ben Lutz has worked on a variety of different projects at arx anima for over nine years, primarily in the pipeline department. In recent years he has been focusing on pipeline for rendering with Mantra and now Karma. He is especially passionate about developing tools and workflows with USD and Houdini.

Gabriela Salmeron, Head of Groom and CFX, Framestore

Framestore’s Head of Grooming and Character FX, Gabriela has ten years’ experience delivering the highest-quality visuals for high-profile advertising projects, TV series, immersive experiences and blockbuster films. Gabriela’s work brings together a strong technical background gained from her double bachelor degree in Computer Science at the University of Sydney and University of Sao Paulo and her love for art and nature. She specialises in creating digital animals, for which she develops many of her own grooming and character FX tools inside Houdini and she has her own tutorial series called Grooming Barry Bacon where she details her approach and techniques in grooming. Her work with creatures has been recognised with three VES award nominations for Outstanding Animated Character over the past four years, with recent credits including The Crown season four, His Dark Materials, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, The Witcher, Black Mirror and The Boys.

Aleksandr Uusmees, FX Technical Director, Rebellion VFX

Aleksandr Uusmees is FX Technical Director at Rebellion VFX at the Film & TV studios. He’s been in the industry working on various projects including Avengers: End Game, Fantastic Beasts, and the recent Wonder Woman 2 previously as a CFX TD doing hair, cloth rigs, and simulations while also freelancing as FX TD for indie short and feature films at the time. This led to an eventual transition to the FX discipline. Possessing diverse skills, he continues to push his artistic boundaries using Houdini. In his spare time, you can find him sitting in his room developing his own creativity and passion through independent projects - usually in the Lovecraftian horror genre, largely inspired by D&D games.

Andreas Weidman, Visual Effects Supervisor, Swiss

Andreas Weidman is a Visual Effects Supervisor based in Sweden, with over 20-years experience ranging from Art Direction, Concept Art and Motion Design, to the full spectrum of Visual Effects. Having spent half a decade at Important Looking Pirates working on TV-shows like Mandalorian, Westworld, and Fear the Walking Dead; he is now directing his focus on VFX-commercials at the award winning studio Swiss International.