3rd Paris Images Trade Show Bows With Digital Summit

General delegate Yann Marchet, talks about the event, which opened Jan. 28

Yann Marchet 2
Courtesy of Paris Images Digital Summit

The five-event Paris Images Trade Show (Jan. 28 – Feb. 6) – one of the world’s biggest film production and post-production trade fairs – kicked off Jan. 28 with a three-day Digital Summit, dedicated to cutting-edge digital production and post-production techniques.

“The Digital Summit sends out an important message to the industry in France and abroad,” explains Yann Marchet, general delegate of the Paris Images Digital Summit. “This is a genuine international event. We have a good position in France in this field but we won’t just be talking about French subjects or promoting the domestic industry. We’ve invited people from the U.K. and the U.S. to showcase their skills to the French production industry.”

The Digital Summit is hosted and co-produced by the Centre des Arts in Enghien-les-Bains, a state-funded center specializing in the digital arts, founded in 2004.

The event includes case studies, round tables, a masterclass and career tributes to VFX supervisor Dennis Muren and Mac Guff co-founders Jacques Bled and Rodolphe Chabrier as well as the Digital Creation Genie Awards ceremony on Jan. 28.

The organizers aim to show how digital creation techniques can be integrated into the film pipeline, from pre-production through to post.

One example is pre-visualization software, that will be presented by French company Androids – and that offers four modules: Pitchvis, Previs, Techvis and Postvis.

The event also includes a Job Fair, attended by Cube Creative, Industrial Light and Magic, Framestore, Illumination MacGuff, Mathematic TV, Mikros Image, The Mill, MPC and Trimaran.

In order to attract new graduates, the Digital Summit has inked a partnership with RECA, the French Animation School Network, that represents 25 schools. Students from leading French schools such as Les Gobelins, Ecole Georges Méliès, Lisaa, ISART digital and the FEMIS film school will be attending.

In addition to the Jobs Fair, the event has a created a Business Lounge in which industry meetings will be organized between producers and VFX shops in order to discuss upcoming projects and develop new approaches.

Partnering with Cap Digital, France Digital and the Pole Media Grande Paris, a new venture capital initiative has been launched this year, called PIDS Invest.

Leading venture capital companies are invited to meet startup companies with new innovative software solutions, including pitching sessions and individual meetings to help companies meet new investors.

“In the U.S., digital companies are used to having some relationship with high-level private investors,” says Marchet. “There’s less of a digital startup culture in France, but we are nonetheless committed to innovation and have good talent and creators. We have a good position to foster innovation.”

The Digital Creation Genie Awards includes a Best Innovation category, specifically designed to showcase new technological solutions developed in France.

The five shortlisted technologies are Akeytsu (3-D animation tool), Golaem (crowd simulation software for vfx/animation), Isotropix (High-End 3D Graphics Software), Mercenaries Engineering (development, lighting and rendering solution) and Stereolabs (3D depth sensing technology).

The Isotropix solution has been sold to ILM for the next “Star Wars” film.

The first day of the Digital Summit focuses on how to use VFX and digital creation skills to improve the production process, including the enrollement of VFX to make better and more cost-effective TV series and exploration of how French cinema can employ VFX to enhance post production and production

The second day focuses on new innovations, including virtual reality applications.

“Virtual Reality is essentially a new art form,” suggests Marchet. “It’s not cinema and it’s not 3D. We aim to explore how we can shape this new media in the entertainment industry, at the technical, creative and business level.”

To showcase new VR devices, the Digital Summit will include an exhibition area in the Centre des Arts offering a selection of VR content, including six booths with Oculus and Samsung VR glasses and equipment.

There will be a round table on new hybrid approaches that combine virtual reality and live action, and blend motion capture, 3D and virtual reality.

Also on the agenda: a 360º Virtual Reality screening of Okio Studio’s VR media project, “Philip and I,” directed by Pierre Zandrowicz, which combines VR and live action and will be available on Arte in mid-February.

On Arte’s web platform there will be an application enabling viewers to watch the project on different platforms, using different equipment.

The presence of Dennis Muren will also serve as a springboard to talk about the combination of VFX with traditional special effects techniques, which Marchet considers is a growing trend since it delivers a higher level of realism. He cites the recent examples of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“A few years ago everything was done digitally, but more recently there has been renewed interest in using old school FX to give greater authenticity. This is definitely a new trend and requires new planning processes during production.”

There will be a case study on “Star Wars : The Force Awakens” given by Muren.

This year’s edition of the Paris Images Trade Show has been streamlined over a 10-day period, encompassing five key events: Digital Summit (Jan. 28-30), Location Expo (Feb. 2 -3), Paris Images Pro (Feb 2-3), Dream Industry (Feb 3-5) and Micro-Salon AFC (Feb 5-6).

The initiative was launched in 2013 in the wake of  recommendations made in a 2013 CNC report that included “the creation of a new international brand via a major annual event to promote France’s technical industries, image-producing expertise and artistic contribution to film and television.”

Paris Images is supported by France’s CNC film-TV board, by the associate partners CST (a guild for post-production employees), FICAM (the 170-member professional organization of the French technical industries), and also by the AFC (French Cinematographers Association), the Ile de France Film Commission, IDIFF (Intl. Digital Film Forum), l’Industrie du Reve, and Film France – the country’s national film commission.