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FMX – Film & Media Exchange – 2023 Report

// Reviews (Film)

(Image source: Mat Clark ©)

In the final week of April this year FMX presented its 27th conference at Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart Germany, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend.

This was my first time at FMX, and it didn’t disappoint. With a host of speakers from across the VFX and animation industries, masterclasses, a marketplace, and a recruiting hub, my days were full, and my inspiration has been refuelled.

Highlights included:

  • Nathan Fariss (Pixar) speaking about the worldbuilding of Lightyear and aiming to build a visual style setting it apart from other Pixar movies.
  • Mark Edwards (Dreamworks) discussed the visual development of Puss In Boots: The Last Wish through the scene in which the audience is introduced to the Wolf character.
  • Cary Phillips (ILM) and Tim Webber (Framestore) both shared fascinating stories about their illustrious careers in VFX and film making.
  • Frank Petzold (VFX Supervisor) talked about the digital and the practical approaches towards developing the invisible effects of All Quiet on the Western Front.
  • Robert Kondo (Tonko House) spoke candidly about setting up a studio and developing Oni: Thunder Gods Tale.
  • Stuart Adcock (Weta FX) introduced us to Weta’s Anatomically Plausible Facial System (AFPS), an evolution of the Facial Action Coding system (FACS).

This is a just short list of some of the great speakers and content presented at the conference, further details and insight can be found on the FMX website.

The entire conference is situated in Haus der Wirtschaft, a magnificent exhibition centre built in the late 19th century housing 2 main rooms and an abundance of smaller event spaces. Queues regularly snaked through the corridors and offered impromptu networking opportunities, although on more than one occasion these lines got tangled in the old halls so it’s best to keep one eye on what’s happening.

The schedule is very well planned and managed, and with each presentation lasting an hour it is possible to fit a great deal into a single day. This year the festival was a hybrid presentation, with 3 days onsite and 1 day online – this worked very well for me, as after 3 days sitting, and listening, I was absolutely shattered. The online content is available until the end of May and includes the Video on Demand (VOD) sessions from the onsite programme, a great way to catch up on any missed content, alongside the new day 4 sessions.

Being held in the centre of a large city there is no shortage of places to pick up a bite to eat or a beverage, however several catering vans offering food and drink were conveniently set up outside the conference building, meaning that it wasn’t necessary to wander too far to fuel up for another round of talks.

FMX is an excellent conference, and I would recommend that anyone, in particular students, with a vested interest in visual effects or animation should try to attend. It is an opportunity to develop an understanding of current industry practice, to network, to help shape career aspirations, and find out how to break into these competitive industries.

I can’t wait to go again!

Tips for FMX: 

  • Be prepared to queue
  • Dress light and carry water as the rooms get very warm
  • Use the VOD tag in the schedule to help plan which sessions you would like to see in person

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