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SIGGRAPH Slates Five-Studio-Strong Session on Man of Steel’s VFX

The movies are a lot of fun, but SIGGRAPH Production Sessions are serious stuff — deep dives into the details of some of the most elaborately crafted and elegantly executed animation and visual-effects work on the biggest VFX films. The just-announced schedule for SIGGRAPH 2013, which kicks off July 21 in Anaheim, CA, is led by a Tuesday-afternoon session on the effects work for superhit Man of Steel, featuring a dream-team panel of VFX supervisors from five different VFX studios.

That's right. Weta Digital's Dan Lemmon, MPC's Guillaume Rocheron, Double Negative's Ged Wright, Scanline VFX's Stephan Trojansky, and LOOK Effects's Max Ivins will crowd the room for a 90-minute session highlighting the work that went into some of the most impressive shots in the film. A closing Q&A session will feature all five panelists. How can you resist?

Nearly as impressive is a Wednesday-morning session on Iron Man 3 in which Marvel Studios EVP of Visual Effects and Post Production Victoria Alonso will lead a discussion of three different sequences from the film. Also on the podium will be the film's overall VFX supervisor Chris Townsend, Weta Digital VFX supervisor Guy Williams, Digital Domain CG supervisor Geoff Baumann, and Scanline VFX supervisor Bryan Grill.

And while stereo 3D's bubble may have burst when it comes to broadcast and home viewing, the technology is alive and well in the realm of feature animation. On Monday afternoon, a panel titled "Storytelling Through Stereography" will look at the different ways different studios approach filmmaking in three dimensions. Slated to speak are Blue Sky Studios Stereo Supervisor Dan Abramovich, Walt Disney Animation Studios Stereo Supervisor Robert Neuman, Pixar Animation Studios Director of 3D Production Joshua Hollander, freelance stereo supervisor Rob Engle, and DreamWorks Animation Head of Layout Gil Zimmerman.

Other sessions will put different films under the microscope, including Epic, "The Blue Umbrella," Star Trek Into Darkness, Life of Pi, The Croods, Frozen, Oz the Great and Powerful, Monsters University, and Pacific Rim. And some sessions cover technology, including open-source software for studio pipelines and VFX for stop-motion animation.

The Production Sessions are part of the Computer Animation Festival, so if you want to go make sure you have a Full Conference or Select Conference registration to cover your attendance. Here's the full list of Production Sessions announced today.

Warner Brothers Presents the VFX for Man of Steel
Tuesday, 7/23, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

The Visual Effects teams from MPC, Weta Digital, Double Negative, Scanline and LookFX will each provide a unique insight into their work on Man of Steel. This session is designed to highlight signature moments from the film and show how creative contributions came from around the globe to help deliver one of the year's most exciting films. The final Q&A with all five vfx studios is not to be missed.


·         Dan Lemmon – Visual Effects Supervisor, Weta Digital

·         Guillaume Rocheron – Visual Effects Supervisor, MPC

·         Ged Wright – Visual Effects Supervisor, Double Negative

·         Stephan Trojansky, President/Sr. VFX Supervisor, Scanline VFX

·         Max Ivins – Visual Effects Supervisor, LOOK Effects

Blue Sky Studios Presents: The Fantastical World of Epic
Wednesday, 7/24, 3:45 PM – 5:15 PM

At Blue Sky Studios we have always taken inspiration from nature, and that is certainly true of our latest movie, Epic. For example, the armor of the Leafmen was inspired by the multi-segmented exoskeleton of crickets. Their costumes use iris petals instead of muslin fabric, and thistle down instead of tulle. Looking at real-world physics, Leafmen could jump more than twice their height, and their sense of time would be sped up by the change of scale, which was taken into consideration during animation. Along with that, the selective use of a wider-than-usual lens package helped us tell a story about a seemingly distant and fantastical world that feels right at your fingertips. We plan to show this process, along with portions of Epic, which demonstrate these points. We will show some of the reference material that designers and animators used as inspiration and how our cinematography was carefully mapped out in order to better serve our story-telling endeavor.


·         Mike Knapp, Art Director

·         Galen Chu, Supervising Animator

·         Renato Falcão, Cinematographer

The Making of Pixar's "The Blue Umbrella"
Sunday, 7/21, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

A screening of Pixar’s "The Blue Umbrella" will be followed by a "Making-of" presentation with the director Saschka Unseld. He will retrace his journey from discovery of the idea all the way through the Pixar story process and onto the big screen. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the artistry and technology that went into every frame and then re-watch "The Blue Umbrella" with new eyes.


·         Saschka Unseld, Director of The Blue Umbrella

Industrial Light & Magic Presents: The Visual Effects of Star Trek Into Darkness
Tuesday, 7/23, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett and the team from ILM discuss the visual effects challenges overcome for the intergalactic manhunt portrayed in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness. From the on-set approach to the effects work to constructing a Starfleet and building and destroying future San Francisco and London, the panelists will cover the creative solutions developed for the film.

·         Roger Guyett, Visual Effects Supervisor / Second Unit Director

·         Paul Kavanagh, Animation Supervisor

Rhythm & Hues Studios presents: How to bake a Pi
Thursday, 7/25, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Get a first-hand look at the story behind the stunning, Oscar-winning visuals of Life of Pi as Rhythm & Hues takes you on a journey from script to screen through a world of vast oceans, carnivorous islands, flying fish, bioluminescent jellyfish, whales and tigers. Leaders from the visual effects team will discuss in detail how they attempted to tackle the project, share the hard lessons learned along the way and explain the complex process used to seamlessly combine live-action with extensive digital environments and hand-crafted character animation in a fully-stereo pipeline that required a total rethink of much of the traditional vfx process.

The Open Source Swimming Hole; C’mon In The Water’s Fine^h^h^h^h Murky
Sunday, 21 July, 2 pm – 3:30 pm

Open Source Software (OSS) has become an integral piece of the ever-expanding Animation and Visual Effects industry. With OSS firmly implemented into many studios’ production and development pipelines, what has been gained? Professionals within these fields will discuss the challenges and benefits of using OSS, reflecting on how the industry has changed as a result. They will look back on their own innovations that have become widespread within the community, in addition to revealing what future developments are in the works.
The panelists represent a community of developers and enthusiasts who encourage open collaboration, as they share their thoughts and experiences with the world.
Topics Include:

·         What are some legality challenges that arise when implementing OSS into a company’s pipeline?

·         The benefits and disadvantages between closed source and open source software

·         The future of OSS in various studio settings

·         Updates and new developments from the panelists


·         Robert Bredow, Sony Picture Imageworks

·         Andrew Pearce, DreamWorks Animation

·         Bill Polson, Pixar Animation Studios

·         Ton Roosendaal, Blender Foundation

·         Kevin Gambrel, Disney Animation Studios

The Visual Effects of Marvel’s Iron Man 3
Wednesday, 7/24, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

In Marvel's Iron Man 3, from Director Shane Black, brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man goes on a harrowing quest to find the enemy who has destroyed his personal world. Marvel Studios, Digital Domain, Scanline VFX, and Weta Digital take SIGGRAPH audiences through their VFX journey as they created some of the movie’s most heart-stopping moments – the house attack sequence, the dramatic ‘barrel of monkeys’ sky rescue and the climactic final battle.

·         Victoria Alonso, EVP of Visual Effects and Post Production, Marvel Studios / Executive Producer Iron Man 3

·         Chris Townsend, VFX Supervisor, Iron Man 3

·         Guy Williams, VFX Supervisor, Weta Digital

·         Geoff Baumann, CG Supervisor, Digital Domain

·         Bryan Grill, VFX Supervisor, Scanline VFX

DreamWorks Animation Presents: A Journey to the Croodaceous
Wednesday, 7/24, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

A behind-the-scenes look at DreamWorks Animation's hit film The Croods directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco. The session explores the artistic and technical challenges of bringing uniquely designed, appealing, gritty and at times dangerous prehistoric characters, creatures and environments to life, all with the ultimate goal of delivering an insightful emotional family journey set against a pending natural disaster. The artistic leadership of the film will talk about the aesthetic decisions made along with the technical and workflow innovations necessary to accomplish the film.


·         Chris Sanders, Director

·         Matt Baer, Head of Effects

·         Mark Edwards, Head of Lighting

·         Damon Crowe, Character Effects Supervisor

Walt Disney Animation Studios Presents Frozen: The Craft of Character and Cold
Tuesday, 7/23, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

The team from Walt Disney Animation Studios gives a first-time, behind-the-scenes look at the their November 27, 2013 film, Frozen. Attendees will learn how the team of artists and technologists created the film's characters through visual development, rigging, animation and advanced rendering tools and discover how the elements of cold — ice, snow and frost — were brought to life through new simulation techniques.

OLM Digital Presents the Anime Spirit: From Pokémon, Pac-Man to live action films
Wednesday, 7/24, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Anime has gained great popularity in the world for its unique expressiveness in contrast to western animation. OLM Digital, a digital production company in Tokyo, keeps trying new anime styles, making the Pokémon movies over 15 years. This session presents the company’s various works in 2D/3D hybrid anime, 3DCG, S3D anime and live action films. The showcase focuses on how the anime spirit of OLM Digital is put into various visual forms. The brand-new Pac-Man animated TV series, which is a collaborative work with Sprite Animation Studios, is also one of the highlights of this session.


·         Yasuhiro Mikami, CGI Director OLM Digital

·         Masashi Kobayashi, CGI Producer OLM Digital

·         Moto Sakakibara, CEO and Creative Director Sprite Animation Studios

·         Ken Anjyo, R&D supervisor OLM Digital

LAIKA Presents: The Seamless Fusion of Stop-Motion and Visual Effects Technologies in LAIKA's Feature Films
Wednesday, 7/24, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

LAIKA, the Oregon-based animation studio behind the remarkable features ParaNorman (2012), Coraline (2009) and The Boxtrolls (in theaters 26 September 2014) has inspired audiences — and industry professionals — with an unprecedented visual artistry. Animators breathe life into meticulously hand-crafted puppets while visual effects artists seamlessly enhance the performance with cutting-edge technologies. This unparalleled fusion of stop- motion and computer graphics has garnered the studio two Oscar nominations and worldwide acclaim. In this session, Georgina Hayns and Brian McLean address the key interdependent and collaborative relationships between these uniquely different but critically important departments.
The presentation will address the following:

·         The use of Maya and Zbrush to enhance practical sculpts;

·         3D Printed material and subsurface scattering to allow puppet builders to break free of previous design limitations;

·         The advancements in color 3D printing and the enabling of puppet builders to evolve beyond prior design limitations;

·         The use of in-house developed silicones which enable character performance previously unseen in stop-motion animation;

·         The utilization of 3D Printers to pre-vis puppet construction issues and control how practical materials perform;

·         The use of laser cutting fabrics to enhance the design and functionality of the puppets costumes.

·         Production puppets will be displayed during the presentation.


·         Georgina Hayns, Creative Supervisor, Puppet Fabrication

·         Brian McLean, Director of Rapid Prototype.

Sony Pictures Imageworks Presents: Take a Journey Down the Yellow Brick Road

Tuesday, 7/23, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Sony Pictures Imageworks, under the direction of VFX supervisor Scott Stokdyk, created the majority of the visual effects for Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful. As a cinematic prequel to L. Frank Baum’s first book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the film explores the backstory of the wizard character. The goal of the film was to create a beautiful stylized environment for the land of Oz and bring to life computer graphics characters that accompany Oz on his journey, including Finley the monkey, the porcelain China Girl, and various creatures that surprise them along the way.

Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation Presents: Scare School 101: The Making of Monsters University
Thursday, 7/25, 12:45 PM – 2:15 PM

The filmmaking team will guide attendees through the production process of the summer 2013 Disney•Pixar film, Monsters University. Twelve years after the original film, see how creators rebuilt the Monster world; updated familiar characters into college-age versions of themselves; designed, built and lit a campus fit for a monster; and populated the university with a student body of diverse, unique and terrifying monster types.

Storytelling through Stereography Industry Panel
Monday, 7/22, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

This panel brings together the Stereoscopic supervisors from some of the leading studios in the computer animation industry to discuss the artistry of the Stereo process and to show how storytelling is enhanced through the use of stereo.
From the beginning, stereography has been seen as either a gimmick, a trend, or a technical process done in post production.  But now, stereography has moved into the filmmakers tool belt – filmmakers have begun using stereography to raise and lower the emotional temperature of a film in the same way as lighting, color, composition, and the choice of lens.
In this panel we will discuss the varied approaches that each studio has used. We will discuss our individual philosophies and our interactions with the directors in the execution of each of our films. We will present specific examples from recent movies.


·         Dan Abramovich, Stereo Supervisor, Blue Sky Studios

·         Robert Neuman, Stereo Supervisor; Walt Disney Animation Studios

·         Joshua Hollander, Director of 3D Production, Pixar Animation Studios

·         Rob Engle, Freelance Stereo Supervisor

·         Gil Zimmerman, Head of Layout, DreamWorks Animation

'Cancel the Apocalypse' – Industrial Light & Magic Presents: The Visual Effects of Pacific Rim
Tuesday, 7/23, 3:45 PM – 5:15 PM

From aliens that threaten Earth’s very existence to massive human-piloted robots, this panel will discuss the wide-ranging scope of Industrial Light & Magic’s effects work on Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction epic Pacific Rim. The artists will cover creative and technical challenges overcome in the areas of asset development, character animation, lighting, digital environments, advanced fluid simulation work and more.

·         John Knoll – Visual Effects Supervisor

·         Hal Hickel – Animation Supervisor

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