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December 13
2018

ISSUE

Winter 2019

London Calling: Thriving in a VFX Metropolis

By NAOMI GOLDMAN

Much of the Visual Effects Society’s growing international presence is due to its network of Sections whose members lend their expertise and entrepreneurship to benefit visual effects practitioners in their region while advancing the Society and industry worldwide. Founded in 2007, the London Section is thriving with nearly 250 members. The Section is in an exciting period of expansion, mirroring the explosion of its local visual effects industry.

In recent years, an impressive string of Academy Award-winning VFX work on Gravity, Interstellar, Ex Machina, The Jungle Book and Blade Runner 2049 has emanated from U.K. VFX houses. VFX companies, including MPC, Cinesite, DNEG, Framestore, Milk and Union FX are at the forefront in delivering best-in-class VFX work, and are finding increasing success in acclaimed film and television projects.

“VFX across London is more vibrant than ever, with a large community based in Soho, elevating the local VFX scene.” says Mark Spevick, Co-Chair of the VES London Section and Head of 3D at Escape Studios and Course Leader at Pearson College.

“There’s a dynamic mix of collaboration and competition between companies, which makes the kinship so rich,” adds Spevick. “We’re galvanized by these companies and our VES members, who bring diverse expertise and energy to our community of artists and innovators.”

Much has been said about Wardour Street in Soho as the longtime center of the British film industry, with the cinemas of Leicester Square, BAFTA and the BFI in close proximity. “The pub scene is a vibrant center point of the VFX community, and every week you can find our members and colleagues alongside directors, editors and producers,” says Spevick. “Our Section regularly hosts pub nights as a gathering spot to build camaraderie among our members, and introduce partners and prospective members to our organization. They are among our most popular events.”

Members and guests of the London Section enjoy exclusive film screenings and lively panel discussions.

London Section members and guests spotlight VFX artistry at their gala celebration.

The VES Section hosts year-round film screenings and panel discussions, due in large part to its strong partnership with MPC, which provides their screening room. London is also a part of the VES’s tight-knit global network, and has begun hosting Europe-wide events with its sister Sections, including a summer pub night with the Germany Section in London, and a large-scale educational event with the Germany and France Sections that took place in September, the second“Megabrain MasterClass.” Simulcast from London, DNEG presented on “A Managed Approach to AOV Manipulation” and “A JIT Expression Language for Fast Manipulation of VDB Points and Volumes,” Pixomodo in Germany presented “Extend Nuke’s Interface and Functionality Using PySide,” and Scanbox in France presented “Photogrammetry and PBR Surface Scanning.”

“‘Megabrain’ was an exciting opportunity to join forces with the VES Germany and France Sections to create a knowledge-sharing event designed to teach actual techniques to help VFX artists improve their skill-sets,” says Craig Dibble, Co-Chair of the VES London Section and Lead Render Systems Engineer at MPC. “This was a great collaboration that epitomizes the value of the VES as a resource for our members.

“In terms of our membership, I think the quality of the work the U.K. produces benefits from the multi-cultural influence of our local talent,” adds Dibble. “A lot of our members are non-U.K. nationals from around the world, further bolstering the VES Section as a VFX home base for networking and professional development.”

“With the resurgence of virtual and augmented reality,” continues Dibble, “we are aiming to expand our membership in these areas, as well as in gaming. We are also looking at diversifying our future programming, which we hope will include more technical and educational events around the craft and business of VFX.”

Concludes Dibble, “The future looks bright, and we are excited to help build the VES’s global community and provide a valuable experience for our peers throughout London.”


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