German effects companies team up

Baden-Wurttemberg region ups ante

BERLIN — Four German visual effects players are teaming up at the upcoming fmx/08 digital media confab in Stuttgart next month to form a “virtual major” in an effort to attract big international projects to the Baden-Wurttemberg region.

Looking to compete better on the global stage for major international productions, visual effects companies Elektrofilm, Pixomondo, Black Mountain and M.A.R.K.13 are joining forces and combining their manpower in order to offer a solid alternative.

With support from regional film board MFG Baden-Wurttemberg, the companies, which plan to unveil a common umbrella brand name and joint marketing strategy later this year, will present the initiative at the fmx/08.

Running May 5-8, the 13th annual confab will offer a broad overview of the creation, production and distribution of animation, effects, games and other digital media, with hundreds of speakers and thousands of international attendees.

Sponsored by the likes of Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Aardman and Apple, the event will showcase recent effects-heavy pics such as “Ratatouille,” “The Golden Compass,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Transformers.”

Speakers include David Ebner, chief creative officer and visual effects supervisor at Santa Maria-based CafeFX, who oversaw the recreation of old Kabul in “The Kite Runner,” and Jeff Barnes, co-founder and CEO of ComputerCafe Group and chairman of the Visual Effects Society.

Reps from Digital Domain and NVIDIA will also be on hand to expound on the high-performance rendering for “Speed Racer.”

As part of the confab’s focus on the games industry, Joseph Olin, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, will present a look at the games and the gamers of tomorrow. Other highlights include discussions on “Boom Blox,” a cooperation between Steven Spielberg and Electronic Arts, the hotly anticipated “Grand Theft Auto IV,” “Assassin’s Creed” and behind-the-scenes presentations of “Crysis,” the game that’s raised the bar for interactive visuals.

This year’s series on Digital Cinema looks at the merging of digital cinema and 3-D. Sony Pictures Imageworks execs Debbie Denise and Rob Engle will discuss 3-D production processes in films such as “Open Season,” “Monster House” and “Beowulf,” while Christopher Townsend and Chris Harvey of Frantic Films map out their work on the upcoming “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D.”

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