Turin, a city best known for hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics, producing Fiat automobiles, and obsessing over a piece of cloth, might seem like an unlikely meeting point for forward-thinking digital artists who are daily shaping and evolving our cinematic language. But every year, for the past 15 years, the Italian city has played host to the VIEW Computer Graphics Conference, an intimate gathering of leaders and key players from across the digital art world. The next VIEW begins in just a few weeks, on October 19.

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“The uniqueness of the VIEW is the sense of community, and the engagement from the artists who attend,” conference organizer Maria Elena Gutierrez told Cartoon Brew via phone. “Artists make a big effort to stay for the entire week and to really take it in and be passionate.”

Gutierrez, who joined the event as its artistic director in 2005 when the conference was still known by an earlier name, Virtuality, hand picks the three dozen or so international speakers who participate in the annual event. “If someone has something interesting to say, we want them to come to VIEW,” she says. “So it’s really a hybrid kind of event.”

Like the conference’s unorthodox location, Gutierrez herself is an unlikely candidate for running an arts conference. Equipped with a PhD from Stanford and having been a former professor of Italian literature and cinema studies, she has a unique perspective on the digital arts industry, allowing her to connect the dots that link the rapidly evolving worlds of gaming, vfx, digital cinema, interactivity, and of course, animation. VIEW’s reputation, Gutierrez says, stems from its ability to bridge these communities in a more familial setting than larger computer graphics tradeshow/conferences.

Maria Elena Gutierrez with John Knoll, chief creative officer of ILM and Photoshop co-creator, at the 2013 edition of VIEW.
Maria Elena Gutierrez with John Knoll, chief creative officer of ILM and Photoshop co-creator, at the 2013 edition of VIEW.
The success of the conference is most evident in its speaker lineup. Key figures from all the major animation and vfx shops will attend this year, including ILM, Blue Sky, Sony Imageworks, DreamWorks, Pixar, Laika, Zynga, and MPC, to name just a few.

This year the conference has also attracted more feature film directors than ever before. An entire panel will be devoted to these feature directors, accompanied by individual keynotes from each filmmaker. If you want to learn about the upcoming Kung Fu Panda 3, co-director Alessandro Carloni will be there. Shaun the Sheep Movie? Richard Starzak’s coming. The Little Prince? Mark Osborne will be in Turin. The Book of Life or Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs 2? Jorge Gutierrez and Kris Pearn are both attending, too.

We asked Maria Elena to help guide attendees and provide her picks for some of this year’s can’t-miss VIEW events. She shares her picks below. If you’d like to attend, passes to the conference start at just 90 euros for students and can be purchased on the VIEW website.

Maria Elena Gutierrez’s Must-See VIEW 2015 Events

1. STORYTELLING IN IMAGINARY WORLDS: ANIMATION DIRECTOR’S PANEL
With Mark Osborne, Jorge Gutierrez, Kris Pearn, Richard Starzak, Alessandro Carloni and Shannon Tindle

2. WOMEN IN ANIMATION PANEL: 50/50 By 2025
Women in Animation board member and film producer Jinko Gotoh (The Little Prince, The Illusionist) will present preliminary research on the state of women working in and studying animation. WIA envisions a world in which women share fully in the creation, production and rewards of animation resulting in richer and more diverse entertainment and media. Other panelists include: Eleanor Coleman, producer The Little Prince; Deborah Fowler, Savannah College of Art and Design; Mikki Rose, director, Computer Animation Festival, Siggraph 2015; Kim White, director of photography, Inside Out.

3. ILM FOCUS:
40 YEARS OF CREATING THE IMPOSSIBLE
INSIDE THE STAR WARS MODEL SHOP
THE PARK IS OPEN: JOURNEY TO JURASSIC WORLD WITH ILM

For 40 years, Industrial Light & Magic has set the standard for visual effects, creating some of the most memorable images in the history of modern cinema. From advances in the photo-chemical process, optical compositing, motion control, and models and miniatures, to the company’s pioneering efforts in computer graphics, digital compositing, film scanning and recording, morphing, digital environments, performance capture, character animation and modern digital pipelines, ILM consistently breaks new ground in visual effects for film, television, themed attractions, and new forms of entertainment. The presenters — Ben Snow (vfx supervisor), Lorne Peterson (model shop supervisor), and Tim Alexander (vfx supervisor) — discuss the company’s work from its earliest days and breakthroughs along the way.

In the model shop panel, Lorne Peterson will walk attendees through the model shop where he built, and supervised others building, miniatures and models for the first Star Wars and for 43 films after that including all six Star Wars films. “I have more anecdotes than a piper has pies,” he says. He’ll show footage from some of the early films. He’ll also share stories about the inventiveness it takes to accomplish action shots that don’t involve traditional models. “It’s like accomplishing a good magic trick where there is no object in the end, just the trick,” he says.

In the Jurassic World panel, the ILM panelists — Glen McIntosh (animation supervisor) and Tim Alexander — share the advanced on-set visualization tools used during production and the new visual effects techniques developed for modeling and texturing, environment creation, and advanced motion capture retargeting technology that allowed ILM to breathe life into the latest installment directed by Colin Trevorrow.

4. THE KEYNOTE ADDRESSES OF VIEW CONFERENCE 2015
Mark Osborne, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Shannon Tindle, Christopher Townsend, Carlo Ratti and Randy Thom will each present keynotes.

5. CREATING CAPTIVATING WORLDS: VISUAL EFFECTS PANEL
With Christopher Townsend (vfx supervisor, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Tim Alexander (vfx supervisor, ILM), Steven Emerson (vfx supervisor, Laika), Daniel Kramer (vfx supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks), Erik Nash (vfx supervisor, MPC), Ben Snow (vfx supervisor, ILM) and Dadi Einarsson (creative director, vfx/animation supervisor, RVX)

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