FMX 2024 will be held as a hybrid event from 23rd to 26th April 2024 on-site in Stuttgart, Germany, and from 27th April to 31st May online (on demand). FMX is one of the world’s largest and most influential conferences on media and entertainment creation that focuses on the art, technology and business of animation, visual effects, XR and interactive media. The conference is organized by Filmakademie Baden Württemberg.

We interviewed Mario Müller, FMX Project Manager, for an overview of FMX 2024, gathering a wide range of information and knowledge of digital visual creation, including the latest in cutting-edge technology. We hope this interview could help you plan for FMX 2024 to make the most out of it.

Interview with Mario Müller

Hideki Nagaishi (HN): What is the main topic or theme of this year’s FMX? What experiences do you aim for and what benefits do you expect the attendees to receive from the programmes of FMX 2024?

Mario Müller: The theme of FMX 2024 is CONNECTING IDEAS, and it refers to tools and processes that facilitate interoperability. A growing number of sharing platforms, open standards and other initiatives have emerged recently, aiming to increase the ease, efficiency and creativity of how people cooperate.

FMX 2024 is dedicating a special focus to the connective issues between people collaborating across platforms, pipelines and distances – both physical and subjective – from interoperability to the disruptions shaking up film production. Apart from technical solutions that facilitate the exchange of ideas, data and assets, CONNECTING IDEAS also refers to the human factor in that we will also discuss topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, representation, and working conditions in the media & entertainment industry at the conference this year.

HN: Could you please let us know the highlights of FMX 2024, from your viewpoint?

Mario Müller: This is a very subjective list of highlights from my personal point of view. While we offer a wide and diverse choice of themes and topics, those are structured and curated in a way that makes them accessible and easy to find. 

Back to my personal favorites, they include:

  • Ben Grossmann, CEO of Magnopus’ keynote around interoperability, with BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER, which will condense the complex subject for the FMX audience
  • Jonas Ussing in discussion with VES Executive Director Nancy Ward and VES Chair Kim Davidson on his revelatory YouTube video series “NO CGI” IS REALLY JUST INVINCIBLE CGI
  • An entire room of EU-funded VR and AR demos on opening day 
  • None other than Paul Franklin spilling the beans on the VFX of GODZILLA x KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, still in cinemas 
  • Sci-Fi bestseller writer Neal Stephenson, ‘Godfather’ of the Metaverse, on MERGING STORYTELLING AND GAMES MECHANICS USING AI
  • A 2-hour special on the brand-new ‘Fallout’ streaming series, with no less than four industry experts on stage going into the details of how they made it work in VFX AND THE WORLD OF FALLOUT
  • Multiple fascinating personalities and discussions on representation in the industry, in the dedicated THE RESPONSIBLE STUDIO and GLOBAL INCLUSION, COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION tracks
  • The STUDIO INSIGHTS track, curated and hosted by Dave Gouge, who will have candid conversations with industry heavyweights Anne Kolbe, EVP VFX at Warner Bros. Pictures, and Kim Davidson, President & CEO of SideFX, among others
  • A presentation, and a live workshop, on the in-camera practical effects on I’M A VIRGO, with VFX Supervisor Todd Sheridan Perry
  • A presentation, and a masterclass, on THE SOUND OF DUNE PART 2, with sound editor Martin Kwok 
  • A first look into the VFX of GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, still in cinemas 
  • A look at the unique approach in the application of the VFX OF THE CREATOR 
  • Executing some of the most complex and immersive experiences in the dedicated LOCATION-BASED ENTERTAINMENT track 
  • Several STATE OF THE INDUSTRY panel discussions on the stagnation of work in the industry and cinema attendance

As mentioned, this only scratches the surface of the 200 sessions and 250 speakers at FMX this year, from my personal perspective. It will be up to our audience to find their way through our extensive program over 4 days on-site in Stuttgart, Germany, and the 5 weeks of video on-demand recordings. There’s something for everyone, and there’s more than enough time to catch your favorites live on site, and as recordings all through May 2024.

HN: Our main reader demographic are animation professionals. Could you please share with us this year’s programmes or sessions that you would particularly recommend to animation professionals, if you have any?

Mario Müller: There’s strong and fascinating programming for the discerning animation professional at FMX again, from blockbusters to more personal, artistic projects. Some of those include: 

  • A Making-of the COLLABORATIVE DESIGN IN KUNG FU PANDA 4, still in cinemas 
  • A presentation on some of the technical challenges and achievements in bringing Nimona to the small screen, NIMONA SURFACING & ENVIRONMENT, and a special, big-screen cinema screening of the film
  • A look back at the 100-year legacy of Disney Animation by Sean Jenkins, VP, Craft Leadership at WDAS, in ENABLING CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION AT WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS
  • Luce Grosjean, CEO of Miyu Distribution, on her career introspective VOCATION BY CHANCE, in the appropriately named RAW & RELEVANT track, curated by acclaimed animation auteur Andreas Hykade
  • A session on the ORION & THE DARK GLOBAL COLLABORATION by Julien Meesters, SVP and Head of Creative at Mikros Animation
  • Last but not least, a session by the title WTF JAPAN by Shuzo John Shiota, President and CEO of Polygon Pictures Inc., on the first 40 years of the animation powerhouse

HN: Are there any trending topics or themes that you’re paying attention to in the areas covered by FMX? If so, how do the programmes in FMX 2024 react and reflect on those trends?

Mario Müller: As mentioned above, we go beyond just technology at FMX. The topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, responsibility, working conditions and the state of the industry have become signature sessions at FMX. One such session is:

  • LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION IN VFX AND ANIMATION, moderated by Julie Ann Crommett, Founder & CEO of Collective Moxie, with Charmaine Chan, Visual Effects Supervisor at ILM; Nosipho Maketo-van den Bragt, CEO & Co-Founder of Chocolate Tribe, among others 

In terms of buzz words, we’re doing deep dives on AI and the Metaverse with some of the brightest people in the industry curating them for presentations and discussions on stage, in:

  • a dedicated ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE track on the practical application of AI in media & entertainment, curated by Andrew Cochrane, an immersive content creator and early adopter of NERFs. 
    His track will culminate in AI IS NOW AT THE GATES OF VFX & ANIMATION, a discussion with industry luminaries Mike Seymour, Co-Founder of FXGuide; Ben Hansford, Professor Machine Learning & AI at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; Elena Garcés García, Director and Senior Research Scientist at SEDDI; and Bilawal Sidhu, Creative Technologist & Angel Investor at Billyfx
  • a track on DEVELOPING OPEN STANDARDS FOR THE METAVERSE, curated by Marc Petit, co-chair of the Metaverse Standard Forum and former GM of Unreal Engine. 
    Among others, his track will bring together luminaries Patrick Cozzi, CEO of Cesium; Ben Grossmann and Solomon Rogers, CEO and Global Director of Innovation at Magnopus, respectively, in a discussion on REAL-TIME IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES AND THE POWER OF OPEN SOURCE DEVELOPMENT

We believe we’re in good shape in these areas, encouraging discussion on these topics that are shaping the future of entertainment and media, and the people working in it.

I don’t want to leave without mentioning that FMX also has 3 dedicated exhibition rooms:

  • The RECRUITING HUB where animation, VFX and creative studios from Europe and around the world are looking for staff to start their new or first job
  • The MARKETPLACE with hardware, software and service providers making their latest products and developments available for people to get their hands on
  • The SCHOOL CAMPUS where film and media schools from around the world present their programs, projects and campus life to prospective students

And I would be amiss not to mention our partner events ITFS – Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film, and APD – Animation Production Days, which take place at the same time as FMX in the center of town, who together bring the STUTTGART ANIMATED WEEK to life.

There really is something for everybody involved and interested in the art, technology and business of animation and animated media – we look forward to seeing and hosting them in Stuttgart from April 23 to 26, 2024. Tickets are still available at competitive prices – we hope to see you there! 

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