news • 14 June 2024

The VFX Festival 2024 - A Student's View

A headshot of Escape student Kam, taken outdoors in nature


Second Year 'The Art of Computer Animation (2D)

This year, The VFX Festival was held on the 3rd and 4th of June at the British Film Institute (BFI) IMAX, which is the UK’s biggest cinema screen, located in Waterloo. The event was sponsored by Wacom, Maxon, and HP with AMD. Speakers who attended represented studios and organisations like DNEG Animation, AtomHawk, Climax Studios, Animated Women UK and many more.

After entering the event and collecting my wristband from Escape Studios’ Student Ambassadors, I was met with the Tech Playground on the lower foyer. Here, I and many others could try Wacom’s pen display tablets, such as Cintiqs and the newest Movink on industry-standard programs like Adobe Photoshop and Zbrush.

On the upper foyer, the Talent Hub was set up with booths from multiple games and VFX companies like Bluebolt, Milk VFX, Industrial Light & Magic, Union Visual Effects and Playground Games. There were also recruitment talks by Climax Studios, REALTIME, The Foundry, World VFX Day or upliftHER taking place on the same floor which were super insightful for students looking to land their first job in the industry.
As a second-year animation student, I attended the DNEG Animation talk by Elliot Stammers, the Lead Character Rigger for Under the Boardwalk, the talk by Blue Zoo Director and Creative Lead Dane Winn for We Campaign Because They Can’t in collaboration with RSPB and GOOD Agency, and the talk by Wacom CEO Nobutaka ‘Nobu’ Ide, all held in the IMAX Screening room.

DNEG - Under the Boardwalk

We were given insight into how character rigs were developed for the face to overcome the challenges of pushing the facial expressions to extremities. One of the most interesting aspects was learning that the crab rigs were also repurposed for human face animation for efficiency.

Bluezoo - We Campaign Because They Can’t

This 12-week project was animated using mainly Blender by mid to senior-level Animators. The Director, Dane Winn, walked the audience through how they took the client's wants and implemented them into 4 short animation clips, from storyboards to the final result. There was a big emphasis on simplicity so that the animations remained impactful within such a short time frame.

Wacom - 道具屋 “Dougu-a”: Our Commitment To Creativity

Listening to this talk, it was captivating to learn about the passion and thought that goes into creating every single Wacom product and how they cater to not only large clients but also small clientele. We were also given an insight into what Wacom plans to implement in response to AI and verifying that art is created by a human artist.

Concluding my two-day experience at The VFX Festival 2024, the event had something for everyone, whether you are a student, looking for networking opportunities, or just interested in learning more about the creative industry. I came away feeling inspired and motivated to try new things within the creative industry. The Q&A sessions were all especially insightful, touching on how the industry is changing and what can be expected from the future and within the pipeline.