FMX was first held as an event for students titled “Film and Media Exchange” in 1994. It soon became an annual event attracting the largest world studios and companies operating in the world industry of digital imagery. FMX is the largest European conference of its kind, and together with Siggraph, which is held in the USA, one of the most important in the world.
Alongside world renowned visual effects and animation studios like Weta Digital (The Adventures of Tintin, The Lord Of The Rings, Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), DreamWorks Animation (Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda), Sony Pictures Imageworks(Alice in Wonderland, The Smurfs), the conference hosted a large number of smaller studios working on visual effects for film and gaming.
3lateral, a studio from Novi Sad that specializes in the creation of advanced models and rigs for computer generated characters for film and video games, presented its work at this conference. Together with Crater Studio from Belgrade, 3lateral had worked on the visual effects for feature films The Other Guys (2010) and Shark Night 3D (2011). 3Lateral’s team’s portfolio includes involvement in few major character driven titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption from Rockstar Games. 3lateral crew comprised of Vladimir Mastilović, founder and CEO, Aleksandar Popov, art director, and Vojislav Pavkov, character rigger, held a two hour workshop for about a hundred students and professionals from the industry of visual effects.
3Lateral Workshop (left to right: V. Mastilović, V. Pavkov, A. Popov), Photo by: Reiner Pfisterer
The key subject of the workshop was a deconstruction of the production process of a two minute animation that was presented for the first time by 3Lateral at FMX conference. In line with their primary focus, high quality digital characters, 3Lateral created a fictional character – Athanasius, a ruler from ancient Greek myths, whose power is weakening in a world that is becoming too complicated for his uncompromising attitude. The workshop was laid out in such a way that it imitated the production, so the story about the character design opened the workshop. Aleksandar Popov explained the motives for articulating the initial idea, which was a nice illustration of the influence of media expansion in the last couple of decades, even on the character design process, since the final design was a fusion of works of the famous fantasy artists of the 80’s from the last century, with popular national sportsmen, and of course, with characters from the movies like Caligula and Gladiator.
Athanasius digital model by 3lateral.com
Vladimir Mastilovic built upon Aleksandar’s presentation explaining the approaches for “breathing life” in to the designed character. 3Lateral has a bit specific focus in their portfolio, predominantly on the creation of rig systems for facial animation. With the advancement of the gaming industry, there is a growing interest for complex characters, and with it, for characters’ faces as the main means of communication. This enabled 3Lateral to emerge in the international market of the entertainment industry, both gaming and feature film. During his part of the workshop, Vladimir explained the options for the creation of the systems for animation through examples, emphasizing advantages and disadvantages of every principle. At the end, Vladimir presented an interesting research performed in 3Lateral studio, which is based on the idea of creation of a virtual double by means of 3D scanning technology. Application of this technology are numerous – from the obvious ones like creation of digital doubles for scenes and actions not possible in reality, over rejuvenation of an actor/actress, to complete replacement of a person, etc. Vojislav Pavkov, facial rigging specialist, continued by deconstruction of the design into concrete steps for the reproduction of an important part of the overall system, the subsystem for combining basic facial expressions and the protection from the impossible combinations. It is significant to mention the participation of dr Steve Caulkin from Cubic Motion company from Great Britain. 3Lateral is cooperating with Cubic Motion for years, combining their systems for facial animation with own solutions for human facial recognition from a video footage, and transfer of the animation to digital characters. This proved to be a great complement to the systems produced by 3Lateral, because the whole process focuses on the preservation of the actor’s performance, and it perfectly fits within the logical production evolution – i.e. going back to the traditional recording methods, where the emotion and the intention is determined on the set, and not in the post production. The animation can be viewed at http://3lateral.com/projects/Athanasius/
This year the 3,300 attendees of FMX from 50 countries were comprised of approximately 60 percent professionals and 40 percent students. 329 speakers from 24 different countries offered presentations. 75 companies from a total of 15 countries presented their products, services and achievements. FMX 2013 is held from April 23 – 26 in Stuttgart, Germany.