Stop-motion puppet fabrication, Dragonheart’s animation and a look back at Gravity.
It’s my pleasure each year at FMX to organize the Then & Now track. This is where we take a look at a history of the visual effects and animation process, pulling out projects that might draw upon old-school methods, or may have been game-changers in the development of new tech, or represent new ways of approaching the art that sit on the shoulders of the giants that have come beforehand.
I’m extremely proud of what we have lined up for FMX 2023, which is happening in-person in Stuttgart on April 25-27, and as an online day on April 28. Then & Now will be featured on the 26th and 27th of April and include some incredible chats from everything from puppet fabrication on Pinocchio, to the early ILM animation system Caricature, to a look back at Gravity/
Here’s a break-down of each talk in the Then & Now track:
Inventing (then reinventing) the VFX rulebook
Wednesday, April 26, 15:45
Over the course of an incredible three-decade career, Oscar-winning VFX Supervisor and Framestore Chief Creative Officer Tim Webber has helped develop some of the groundbreaking techniques and technologies our industry now takes for granted. From early forays into long-form episodic projects through to the Harry Potter franchise and the innovative LED and previs methodologies pioneered with Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, Tim’s work has forged new creative and technological pathways while upping the ante in terms of what audiences can expect from VFX. This talk will see Tim examine some of his career’s key innovations and landmark moments, while also looking forward to the future and how a new R&D project utilising Unreal and virtual production technologies can help shape the future of filmmaking.
Dragonheart, Davy Jones, Shape Sculpting and StageCraft: a history of VFX innovation at ILM
Wednesday, April 26, 17:00
In this intimate VFX tech discussion, I’ll sit down with ILM R&D supervisor and multiple Scientific and Technical Academy Award winner Cary Phillips to discuss key moments in VFX innovation history at the lauded studio that Phillips has been directly involved with. These include the development of the animation system Caricature first used on Dragonheart, further development of ILM’s creature dynamics and shape sculpting systems, implementation of the studio’s proprietary Zeno software, and more recent innovations in de-ageing tools and the virtual production StageCraft toolset. You’ll hear stories never told before about the history of these developments at ILM and their use in such projects as Dragonheart, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Phantom Menace, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Irishman, and The Mandalorian.
The Incredible Art of Stop-Motion Character Fabrication
Thursday, April 27, 14:30
Puppet fabrication supervisor Georgina Hayns will join me in conversation to discuss just what goes into the art and technology of puppet fabrication on a stop-motion animated film. Using Hayns’ long history in the world of stop-motion puppet supervision, including on Guillermo’s Del Toro’s Pinocchio and several Laika films, the conversation will look at how puppets are designed, built and rigged, and how they take advantage of ‘old-school’ mechanical mechanisms and modern 3D printing. You’ll see hands-on how a puppet works and you’ll be able to ask Hayns about the many characters she has supervised the fabrication of.
Find the full program for FMX here. Plus look out soon for a befores & afters podcast episode all about FMX!