A Celebration of Animation and Visual Effects

by Kyle Cunningham | Prime Focus World | Dec. 04, 2013

Contingents from various Animation and Visual Effects houses stepped away from their projects last Saturday to celebrate the latest works done by the industry in Vancouver. The 6th annual VES CAVE event, held at the H.R. MacMillan Space Center, was an opportunity for visual effects professionals to present their visual content, highlight advancements in technology, network with peers, and come together as a creative community.

Keynote speaker, Sean Lewkiw, Head of 3D Method Studios, encouraged those in attendance to really get involved in the local Visual Effects industry, and to become a part of the various local CG organizations (VES, Spark CG Society, and SIGGRAPH). Lewkiw's message was very much about cooperation, cohesion, and building a strong creative community in Vancouver. This message seemed to strike a chord with Prime Focus Recruiter, Angela Geier, who remarked, "The event was a great opportunity to make connections and mingle with the people who are active in the visual effects community."

Sony Pictures Imageworks, Digital Domain, Artifex Studios, and  Image Engine were the featured sponsors, presenting works that inspired their respective teams, and highlighting their successes from the past year.

Principal Software Engineer for Sony Pictures Imageworks, Larry Gritz, presented their work developing characters for the Fall 2013 release of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, as well as the latest advancements in their commercial products (look development & lighting tool KATANA, and web-based story development tool FLIX).  

Jan Philip Cramer, Animation Director, and Joel Behrens, Compositing Supervisor, presented Digital Domain's work delivering 900 shots on Enders Game (2013), which Digital Domain co-produced along with Summit Entertainment. Cramer and Behrens spoke about the challenges of creating a CG environment that realistically mimics the physics of the film's zero gravity setting, and using Deep Compositing to allow for 200,000+ spaceships in a single shot.

Artifex Studios President, Adam Stern, presented their work on SyFy's Continuum, the Vancouver based science fiction series which is set in the year 2077. Stern talked about how Artifex became involved the series, the tight turnaround times involved in getting visual effects shots ready for broadcast, and how Artifex uses visual effects to tell a story. He was particularly proud of the close collaborative relationship between visual effects and production, allowing Artifex to become really involved in the direction of the show, including areas such as concept art and costume design. The third season of Continuum is set to begin airing in April 2014.

Visual Effects Supervisor, Andrew Chapman, presented Image Engine's work on Vancouver filmmaker Neill Blomkamp's Elysium (2013), which was shot both in Vancouver and Mexico City. The majority of the work involved creating realistic droids, vehicles, set extensions, and space environments. Chapman spoke about the scale an spread of the shots, juggling the needs of production and postproduction simultaneously, internal and outsourced effects, integrating practical effects,  and maintaining the futuristic gritty look that Blomkamp likes to create. Chapman noted that there was a benefit to working with Blomkamp, who has a background in visual effects, which allowed Image Engine to get what they need on set,  and allow the work to smoothly transition from production to visual effects.

VES Vancouver Secretary, Ria Bénard, was very proud of the event and the various partners who came together as a community to make VES CAVE 2013 a success. "The presentations from Sony Pictures Imageworks, Digital Domain, Artifex Studios, and Image Engine were some of the best I have seen. Everyone seemed very happy with the venue, the catering, and the complementary beer & wine provided by Lost Boys School of VFX. This year's CAVE event was very successful. All in all, it turned out even better than I planned."