Italy’s VIEW Conference, the week-long confab featuring top creatives from around the world in film, television, games, virtual reality, and more is going entirely digital this year with all live sessions being made available for free to a global audience.

Usually the high-caliber event, now in its 21st edition, which spotlights the latest in computer graphics, animation, and visual effects of various types, is held in Turin against an Alpine backdrop. Over the years it has evolved into a Davos-like conference where the digital creative community’s top execs fly in to hear each other’s talks and hobnob, perhaps over a nice bottle of Barolo. That aspect due to COVID-19 is being scrapped this year though “virtual rooms” following presentations are being set up.

Of course it won’t be the same thing. But conference director Maria Gutierrez says there are also some advantages to being online only. After all, she’s assembled her biggest edition yet with roughly 160 high-caliber speakers delivering 125 talks, workshops and master classes for the upcoming Oct. 18-23 digital edition.

“It’s a pity that you don’t have the physical contact,” she says. But being virtual “also makes it possible to have people whom you might not usually get, because they would be too busy working in the studio,” Gutierrez adds (see separate interview).

Case in point is this year’s keynote speaker, Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and former president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, who pioneered what are now fundamental computer graphics techniques such as texture mapping. Gutierrez says Catmull had been wanting to attend VIEW for a long time but never managed. “Finally he was able to participate because we are doing it online,” she notes.

Gutierrez is also particularly pleased that at this year’s VIEW there is a “nice balance” in the program mixing “creatives and head honchos from studios, and rising stars and legends.”

And Gutierrez is thrilled to have recruited 30 high-profile directors of animated features, and TV series as speakers in various guises. This year’s talents holding talks include Kris Pearn, director of Netflix’s CG-animated family film “The Willoughbys”; Sergio Pablos, who helmed Netflix’s first foray into animation “Klaus”; Kyle Balda, co-director of “The Lorax” and the “Minions” saga; Peter Ramsey (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”); Walt Dohrn (“Trolls World Tour”); Joel Crawford – who will present the next “Croods” movie, “The Croods: A New Age,” that DreamWorks will release in November; Conrad Vernon (“The Addams Family”); Eric Darnell (“Madagascar”); and Jeff Rowe, director of Nickelodeon’s upcoming “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot.

“Normally it’s difficult to get 30 people (to come to Turin) just in terms of budget,” Gutierrez points out.

Peter Ramsey, who last year won the Oscar as co-director of “Into the Spider-Verse,” marking the first time an African-American director scored an Oscar for animated feature, will hold a talk with another African-American director, Everett Downing Jr., one of the directors on “Hair Love,” the short that won the 2019 Oscar for best animated short. “It just happened like that!,” Gutierrez notes.

On the business side, VIEW will feature a Business Innovation Summit where Paul Debevec, senior engineer at GoogleVR, will deliver the central keynote among roughly 17 other speeches and Adobe’s vice president of 3D and Immersive Sébastian Deguy will hold a talk titled “The Blurry Line Between Modeling and Surfacing,” exploring innovative workflows offering new efficiencies for digital artists.

The business side’s program will be highlighting the growing synergy between a number of different fields with presentations ranging from “The Future of the Entertainment Industry: VFX, AI and Virtual Production,” held by Rob Bredow, executive creative director and head of Industrial Light & Magic, to a special multidisciplinary panel called “Remote Working in the Time of COVID.”

Highlights from the gaming world will include “Creating a Games Studio Outside Major Creative Hubs,” held by Milan Jovovic, co-founder and chief creative officer at Nordeus, which is one of Europe’s most successful mobile games studios. And “The Future of Games & Medicine: Creating EndeavorRx,” which is about “EndeavorRx,” the game for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that interestingly recently became the first video game to be legally marketed and prescribed as medicine in the U.S.