Although – due to my full work schedule for the entire Summer – I haven’t updated my personal gallery in a while, today I’m posting some exciting pictures. In this post, I would like to share my experience of Mundos Digitales, an animation/VFX conference I attended a couple of weeks ago.
Before running into the details, I’d like to emphasize something. In every artist’s life and career, there comes a time when you feel you need to go out there and show yourself to the world. To introduce yourself to fellow artists, directors, filmmakers, animators, illustrators – any kind of multimedia professionals. Social Media is a very useful thing; the Internet reaches everywhere, but a handshake, exchanging a few words, maybe a drink together at a nice place beats everything digital. You never know who you’re going to work with in the future, and there is a big difference between knowing your name and remembering your face, your person (“Hey, we met here and here last year! Remember when…”). This is an invaluable advice I got from my friends who are very successful in the industry, and I also know people who have been trying to bring something out of the same project for 6-8-10 years without networking in person, not moving forward at all. After some active and prolific years in the social media, I felt it was about time to take the next step – outside.
There are several conferences and exhibitions for current and prospective artists in the multimedia industry – ACM SIGGRAPH, IBC, FMX, RTT Excite, just to mention a few. But there’s one conference that stands out of all. It’s a smaller event; you don’t get lost between tens of thousands of professionals, but that’s why it’s more personal, and your chance to meet and talk to the biggest names in the industry, even for a short time, are 10 times higher. That was one of the reasons I picked this one this year. This conference is Mundos Digitales.
What is Mundos Digitales?
I’m sure most of you are already familiar with the event. Mundos Digitales is an international conference on Animation, VFX, Video Games and Digital Architecture. The event is combined with an international Film Festival, where the best short animations and architectural visualizations get awarded. The conference is held annually, every year in July, in the beautiful Galician town A Coruña. The lectures are presented by well-known, successful professionals, and the event is sponsored by prestigious institutions, studios, companies that have contributed to the industry with their high-quality work, innovations, research and creativity. Mundos Digitales offers a great opportunity for networking, recruiting, sharing and coming up with ideas. It’s a place where students, artists, studio/company representatives, speakers and chairmen can get together, hang out and learn from each other as well.
Me & Mundos Digitales
I’ve become familiar with Mundos Digitales via Peter Plantec, alias The Wizard/El Brujo. Peter is a guy who’s involved in several events and knows everyone. Besides being a co-chair of Mundos Digitales, he’s also been a host at FMX (Virtual Humans Forum), he’s an author, digital artist, innovator, mentor and an extraordinary mastermind who somehow always knows what to do, where to be, and whatever he does, he does it well. We know each other for about 3 years now, and I always wanted to meet him in person. The final decision about attending MD was when I saw the name of Dax Pandhi in the speakers’ list. Those who follow me for a longer time have heard a lot about him on my website as well; Dax and I have been friends for not less than 7 years. I “met” him at deviantART in 2007 when I was a beginner and started uploading some of my ….creations for feedback. He was one of the experts who gave me lots of good advice and helped me improve. Throughout the years I watched him grow as the owner of QuadSpinner, I contributed a little to his first book “Realism in Vue“, and we’ve always wanted to meet….. but I didn’t have the conditions to attend SIGGRAPH or his MasterClass in L.A. He’s also a very skilled programmer, creator of Helios for Vue/Ozone and GeoGlyph for World Machine – with his tools he made our projects a lot more efficient. When I saw the schedule with his name among many other key professionals from around the world, I told Michel to tell our clients that we were going to be out of office in the first week of July. We’re going to represent D&D Creations.
Armed with 3 tablets for presentations and freshly printed business cards, we arrived to A Coruña. The next day we finally met Peter at the lobby of the hotel, he guided us through the downtown of the city, then, in the evening, we waited for the airport shuttle. Dax arrived along with his partner Cynthia. I can tell you guys, knowing someone for so many years on the internet and finally see the person in front of you is pretty bizarre (in a good way), especially if it’s Dax. He’s quite a character (again, in a good way 🙂 ). In a short time, chairmen, speakers and award nominees gathered in the lobby, and even before the event started, we’ve made so many new connections that I already started losing track. We had a snack together, then walked together to the beach, giving ourselves a chance to get to know each other and just casually talk before the conference started. I already knew we made the right decision.
The conference was exciting, informative and very-very edifying. It was also an exclusive event where we got the chance to take a peek into the R&D and production phases of major movie productions, such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Avatar, Gravity, X-Men, Maleficent, Spiderman 2, Superman Returns, Tron: Legacy and Transcendence. We’ve learned a lot about the key factors of being successful in the industry, pipeilne management, and how the ideas of directors have turned into the newest innovations and technologies. The most memorable fact for me was that the R&D phase of a 2-second shot can take more than a year. If you want to achieve the best quality and make the audience drop their jaws, you cannot rush anything.
I could talk endlessly about all the information that flooded my head during the 3 days of the conference, but besides meeting Peter and Dax, we met/shook hands with Prof. Craig Caldwell from the University of Utah, Mike Murphy who has been working as an animator on several Disney and PIXAR productions, great Spanish directors, such as Javier Leon, Javier Fesser or Daniel M. Lara, Pablo Gimenez from Double Negative, Tony Micilotta from MPC and – probably the highlight of the event – Paul Debevec from USC Institute of Creative Technologies – the guy behind the R&D of several blockbusters, finding and capturing the reflectance field over the human face, high dynamic range imaging and image-based modeling and rendering.
The third day’s evening was the evening of the Film Festival. We’ve seen so many perfectly done, touching or jaw-dropping animations that it inspired us to get started on our own short film. We are not rushing with it, but we’ll work on it whenever we have a little extra time. Congratulations to all the Nominees and Winners!
The event ended with a wrap coctail party at a really nice local club next to the beach. Another great opportunity to have a drink and chat with the crew. Students, speakers, chairmen, reps, prospective artists and professionals dancing and having fun together. There’s no better way to end such an event. Every day we got a coupon for a free beer at another local bar where we could spend the nights. I can tell you, if you come to Mundos Digitales, you hardly sleep!
To wrap it all up, we had a great time, and I can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully one year we can also become partners and sponsor the event, but let’s wait and see what the future brings. I can highly recommend Mundos Digitales to everyone – students, artists or professionals. Once you become a part of this big family, you will always be.
If you visit Mundos Digitales, take time to meet and talk to each other, raise your questions, share your opinion. We are all artists, we are in the same business, we are a big family and each and everyone of us is truly unique. – Peter Plantec
Hope to see you at #MD2015!