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VIEW Conference Director Maria Elena Gutierrez on Opening the Prominent Digital Media Conference ‘To the World’

VIEW Conference Director Maria Elena Gutierrez
Courtesy VIEW Conference

Over the past 16 years VIEW conference director Maria Elena Gutierrez has been steadily growing the event held in Turin – historically the first Italian city to develop a film industry — into one of Europe’s top international symposiums on computer graphics, animation, and visual effects. It’s regularly attended by top creatives and execs coming to Italy to hobnob and take the pulse of the latest digital developments in film, 2D/3D animation, VR and AR, gaming, and VFX.

This year of course the effects of COVID-19 posed a major challenge. One that Gutierrez, who was born in Mexico, raised in central California – she has a PhD from Stanford – and has long been living in Turin, managed to turn into an advantage of sorts for the event’s upcoming 21st edition that will be held virtually Oct. 18-23.

Gutierrez spoke to Variety about how she navigated the coronavirus crisis and turned the upcoming VIEW 2020 into the biggest edition ever, albeit entirely virtual, while also expanding its global footprint. Excerpts from the conversation.

How tough has it been to organize VIEW 2020?

Doing it online it’s a pity that you don’t have the physical contact. But it also makes it possible to have people whom you might not usually get, because they would be too busy. I know that (Pixar co-founder) Ed Catmull had been wanting to attend the conference for a long time, but he never managed. Finally he was able to participate because we are doing it online.

Tell me more about your big catches this year

Generally I think that there is a very nice balance in this year’s program of having both creatives and head honchos from studios, and rising stars and legends. From the animation world we have 30 directors with their latest projects. We have the biggest names with ties to Netflix, from Shannon Tindle and Peter Ramsey, who just got a series order to make “Lost Ollie,” to Tony Bancroft, whose “Animal Crackers” launched on Netflix in July. Jorge R. Gutierrez will speak about Netflix’s “Maya and the Three.”

The numbers themselves are impressive. We have 160 speakers.

Who is the audience this year?

The audience is a global audience, obviously, being online. And live VIEW is free. This opens us up to the world. We are getting massive numbers of people signing up from all over. We have received massive registration from places like Brazil; we are flooded with Indian professionals from the various studios. If I had to mention a group besides the U.S. and Canada that are registering massively it’s the Indians, Brazilians and Mexicans.

Were past editions available online as well?

No. Usually when we have a physical conference studios share a lot of behind-the-scenes information. And you cannot really put that kind of thing online. Lots of times we have premieres, and we cannot event show an image of what they are presenting, in some cases. It’s a tradeoff. This year we had to be more creative to go deeper.

So how is being online impacting the content?

A few of the presentations are going to be pre-recorded because the studios want some control over the content. We are going to have a presentation about the next “Croods” movie “The Croods: A New Age,” that DreamWorks is expected to release soon. We have the director (Joel Crawford) and the production designer (Nate Wragg) speaking about the movie. They are going to pre-record the presentation, but then it will be followed by a live Q&A. So even though there will be a pre-recorded presentation, we still asked them to do the Q&A live.