fmx 09: One Awesome Conference

8 05 2009
This wonderful building becomes like Everest after three days.
This wonderful building becomes like Everest after three days.

written by Johannes Wolters

Okay, there is one minor flaw in fmx. I had to go through three days of fmx09, but then I found it. Or better it found me. The house of commerce, this big old wonderful building, where fmx is placed is a truly great place for all the things going on. But the event has now conquered four floors of the place and every floor has very high walls. So if you want to run downstairs and upstairs to catch your next meeting, to get to your next discussion, whatever, you climbed in the end all together the Everest. Or at least your legs begin to revolt. So on the last day of fmx you notice more and more people (and not only the elderly ones), who take the elevators, a little bit hidden and a little bit slow. But that’s the only flaw I have found on this years edition of fmx. I have to admit this stairs-sport is also very healthy. May be not, with all the coffee you need to drain every piece of information from this awesome conference. Again the creators of the fmx, Renata and Thomas Haegele topped the event from last year and again the numbers of attendees increased. Again more and internationally renowned speakers came to Stuttgart, again for four days the sunny town became animator’s land And that in those dark and gloomy times of worldwide economic crisis. And I did not discover one unhappy face during all those days. Must be heaven!

Victor Antonov showed breathtaking artwork from the upcoming “The Prodigies”, a dark probably x-rated animated feature film produced by Fidelite Films, Onyx and Studio 37. In all modesty he described the movie as a new genre of animated movie. And the graphic approach he and his team choosed convinced the audience. The film is currently in postproduction and will be released hopefully in summer 2010.

After that, Brad Blackburn, the director of photography from Framestore’s “Tales of Desperaux” talked about his endeavor to paint with light in this delightful story about a gentleman mouse.

Danielle Feinberg told a fascinated audience almost every secrets behind the cinematography of the most beloved Pixar movie so far, this year’s academy award winner “Wall-E”. If you nee to know, if there are some films, that have a soul, go and see every film done by Pixar. Said Matte Artist/Legen Harrison Ellenshaw! And Syd Mead, by the way, claimed jokingly, that his No 5 robot from Short Circuit was the inspiration for “Wall-E.”

Waltz with Bashir shows that technology can help push storytelling as well.
Waltz with Bashir shows that technology can help push storytelling as well.

And Michael Faust, one of the Bridgit Folman Gang, enchanted the audience with his personal “Waltz with Bashir.” The right wing parties in Israel hated the movie for being left wing, the left wing parties complained, that the film wasn’t left wing enough. And only a very small group of Israelis admitted that they actually liked the movie. But the movie still runs in the theaters over there since its release six months ago, so it hit definitely a nerve. Faust didn’t knew, if the film was already shown in the Lebanon, but he did know everything about working on a very, very tight budget, working in a politically hot film, working with cutouts in flash, which is sometimes like working in hell. But his explanations about the famous, perverse waltz scene, which also was the most expensive one of the movie touched the audience because of its sheer, terrible beauty.  And one funny thing: The younger self of director Ari Folman, which is shown in the movie is based on the “old” face of the artist and writer, but not on the pictures of the then young Ari, who interestingly looked nothing like the animated character in comparison. Being asked, if he finds “Waltz with Bashir” a politically movie, he answered, that he thinks not. “As long as you consider “Saving Private Ryan” a political movie too. Both deal with memories. But there was no discussion around the Spielberg film!” he stated. The Award for the shortest presentation goes to Alain Lahanne, who presented the work of BUF on “The Dark Knight”. Called “Batman’s Sonar Vision” the interesting presentation ended after about 19 minutes, a record in my opinion. Christopher Nolan’s request to the studio was: It has to look like rain on water. So the BUF artists very carefully created a lot of ideas for the pitch and convinced Nolan with truly remarkable images. What did I miss today? Kay Delventhal’s presentation of the upcoming german feature film called Jasper the Penguin, who was coproduced with almost every European country. I missed also Gray Hodgkinsons talk about the animation education at New Zealand. Or Marc Caro’s presentation of “Dante 01” But you have to make some impossible decisions.

One very good advice came from the very last panel, when Joseph Olin, the president of the Academy of interactive Arts & Sciences gathered all the panelists of the games section for a final discussion. Again the audience and the panelists interacted quite well, like yesterday at the 5D-Conference. Richard Hilleman, the chief creatice director of Electronic Arts came up with a very wonderful advice: If you want to imitate someone, who has truly inspired you, you should not simply ape him or her, but you should go to the place, where the inspiration came from, that inspired the thing, you are inspired from. And built from there! What better advice to get from one of the smartest people I met during the conference.

So please take your calendar and make a big note. Next fmx will be hosted at Stuttgart from May 4th till May 7th 2010 You know, it’s the year, we will make contact again.



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