Robert Blalack

Praxis Film Works, Inc. Writer-Director

Robert Blalack is a feature film writer/director, director of national and international TV commercials and location-based theme park films.

He is known for his comedic and visual story skills, and his mastery of the complex directorial demands of integrated live action-visual effects production.

Blalack has a distinguished track record as a VFX supervisor. He received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his contributions to the creation of the revolutionary visual effects studio Industrial Light & Magic and his supervision of the Composite Optical Effects for Star Wars. He received an Emmy for Best Visual Effects for his work on the ABC Television nuclear war drama The Day After, watched by the largest audience in broadcast TV history.

Blalack studied at St. Paul’s School (University A-Levels), London, Pomona College (BA, Theater Arts), The California Institute of the Arts (MFA, Film Studies).

  • Talk - Invisible Visions & The Movie Business

    Robert Blalack will be giving insights about his may works in the visual effects industry and the movie business.

Hannes Seifert

Io-Interactive Studio Head/CEO

Hannes’s career started in 1987 with his first Commodore 64 game. 1993 he co-founded Rockstar Vienna originally as neo Software, where he served as managing director for production and as executive producer for 14 years. End of 2006 he co-founded Deep Silver Vienna which he left 2010 to join Io-Interactive where he continues his work as studio head and executive producer.

Hannes is currently working on unannounced next-gen titles. His previous games include “Hitman: Absolution”, “Dead Island”, the “Max Payne” and “GTA” series and “Die Völker”.

In his 26 years in the industry he worked on over 30 games on platforms ranging from C64 to MMOs, Wii, Xbox One and PS4.

Hannes’ academic and public lectures include talks about studio management, creative leadership, Hollywood style and general production models, and careers in the games industry. He lectured in the UK, Canada, Germany, Austria, and the USA.

Simone Kesterton

Daedalic Entertainment Art Director

2003-2006 Hamburger Technische Kunstschule
2005-2006 Comic Artist for “Perry- Unser Mann im All”
2007-2008 Animation School-Hamburg
2008-2009 Artist at Daedalic Entertainment
2009-now Art Director at Daedalic Entertainment

  • Talk - Graphics in the Daedalic Games

    An insight in the process of how a classic daedalic point and click comes to life from a grafic point of view, at the examle of the deponia trilogie.
    Begining with the vision trapped in the creative leads head leading to beautifully paintend backgrounds and lovable character coming alive on the screen.

Martin Pichlmair

Broken Rules Co-Founder

Martin Pichlmair is a Doctor of Computer Sciences who spent 5 years as an assistant professor at the Vienna University of Technology before going indie. During his years at the university he was also a prolific media artist. The most notable shows he participated in are the Ars Electronica Festival, the ISEA festival and Manifesta. Since 2010, Martin Pichlmair is Co-Founder of Broken Rules and responsible for marketing, tools, game design and business development.

  • Talk - Chasing Aurora – The Indie Console Launch Title Postmortem

    We stumbled across the opportunity to make a console launch title as a small indie studio without an industry background. We made it. In this talk, we will tell the story of the many challenges we faced in order to release on the Wii U on day one and we will share what we’ve learned.

    In the second part of the Chasing Aurora post-mortem, Clemens will demo parts of Secrets of Rætikon, the new game by Broken Rules. The focus will be on our in-game editor GinkEd and how to change, create and animate new content for our games on the fly.

Clemens Scott

Broken Rules Art Director

Clemens is creative director, art director and lead artist at Broken Rules. He gets to wear all these titles mainly because he’s the ONLY artist. He does everything from game-, level-, interface- and web-design to character animation, concept art, level decoration, effects, video editing and game logic scripting. Also he is responsible for the distinctive art style of Chasing Aurora and Secrets of Rætikon.

  • Talk - Chasing Aurora – The Indie Console Launch Title Postmortem

    We stumbled across the opportunity to make a console launch title as a small indie studio without an industry background. We made it. In this talk, we will tell the story of the many challenges we faced in order to release on the Wii U on day one and we will share what we’ve learned.

    In the second part of the Chasing Aurora post-mortem, Clemens will demo parts of Secrets of Rætikon, the new game by Broken Rules. The focus will be on our in-game editor GinkEd and how to change, create and animate new content for our games on the fly.

Christopher Schmitz

Ubisoft Blue Byte Director of Product Development

Christopher joined the games industry in the early 90s when game development was still lean and mean. After working on localization projects publishing major US games in Germany, Christopher moved to game programming for the following years working in several programming roles on various PC and console platforms. For the last decade Chris was working in game production, managing development projects both from developer, as well as from publisher sides. Joining Ubisoft in 2007 he is now serving as Director of Product Development for Ubisoft Blue Byte in Germany overseeing the development unit comprised of more than 280 team mates in 3 different locations working on projects on PC, Browser, Tablet, Mobile and Console. As such, he is in charge of all game development projects at Blue Byte. Chris holds a MBA degree from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK and is a frequent speaker at various international developers conferences like GDC San Francisco, GDC Online and GDC Europe as well as he is lecturing at Universities like MDH and Filmakademie.

  • Talk - From a small team to a large development studio

    Scaling an organization is always a challenging undertaking, and often causes a lot of growing pains. Ubisoft Blue Byte has grown from about 30 employees, six years ago, to more than 350 as of today, and continues to get bigger. This talk covers the growth strategy, the findings, mistakes, and pitfalls we have encountered. We explain how we implemented the growth, ensuring that we have a scalable organization. Christopher Schmitz will explain the processes that needed to be changed, and the way growth affected our company culture, moving from a family-like work atmosphere to more of a corporate environment.

Maciej Szcześnik

CD Projekt RED Lead Gameplay Designer

Maciej has worked in the games industry since 2004. He leads the CD Projekt RED gameplay design team. His role is to design and implement all game mechanics. He has completed The Witcher and The Witcher 2 and is currently working on The Witcher 3 – the last and biggest game from The Witcher franchise.

  • Talk - The Witcher – From Great Ideas To Game Features

    Succeeding in the games industry often depends on how fast one is able to create innovative game concepts, choose the best ones, and transform them into optimal production plans. The difference between success and failure is defined by using the right mindset and methodologies. This talk will connect design and production by presenting creativity boosting methods, feature assessment tools, and effective production mindset. The target of this approach is to create the best possible game within the given constraints. Presented methods can be successfully used not only in game development environment.

    Takeaways will include a handful of creativity boosting methods presented step by step and idea assessment tools.

Roman Hladik

2K Czech Art Director

Roman Hladik has started to work in game industry in 1996 as 2D artist. First project was unfinished adventure game. Then he joined Illusion Softworks and since the beginning he was part of the Mafia team He worked on the project as a lead character artist. Mafia was released in 2002 (PC, PS2, XBOX). In 2008 Illusion Softworks was acquired by 2K Games and renamed to 2K Czech. Roman worked on Mafia II as Art Director. The game was released in 2010 (PC, XBOX 360, PS3) and followed by two DLC projects Joe’s Adventures and Jimmy’s Vendetta. Roman still works as Art Director in 2K Czech on unannounced next gen project.

  • Talk - Art Department in Studios

    Roman will speak about inner structure of Art Department in 2K Czech and generally in game industry. . He will uncover best practices and also issues the team went through during Mafia II development. The speech will explain what game industry offers to the artists and what makes the job there interesting and fun.

Petr Robek

Ateliery Zlin Digital Pioneer

Petr Robek was a digital pioneer responsible for a smooth transition from analog to digital technologies in Ateliery Bonton Zlin, which made it possible to make “Bob a Bobek na cestach” series and “Beta a Ufo” series and other.

  • Talk - 2D TV Series workflows

    He will speak about making longer animated production with ease in a relatively small team, with small budget and in a matter of hours. What such production involves – from initial technology testing to selling final production package. How to arrange such production at home, what is needed, how to keep creative freedom, original visuals, how not to get crazy from it and stay happy.

Michael Hengst

Flying Fishkopp Productions Owner

Before appreciating the joy of working in the games industry, Michael actually had a real job. He used to work as a sales clerk selling wallpaper, paint and carpets. Not a very challenging profession and in 1988 Michael decided to throw his life completely away and started working for a computer games shop in Hamburg. He moved to Munich in 1989, working as a staff writer for the famous Power Play magazine. In 1995 Michael moved on and settled in Frankfurt, just to go back to Munich two years later. He brought the first games developer magazine to German speaking countries and had his own company for around 4 years. He worked in Holland, in lovely Minsk, Rottenmann, and Karlsruhe on various games. Now, he is just complaining a lot and sometimes he is getting actually paid for it.

Johanna Schober

Sproing

Johanna is responsible for scheduling and keeping projects on time and on budget, process development, growth and team management. She joined Sproing in 2003 and worked as a project manager on several of our high-profile titles before assuming her current role in 2006. Johanna studied economics and information management at FH Salzburg.

Eric Goldberg

Disney Animation Studios

ERIC GOLDBERG is a veteran Director, Designer, and Animator who has worked extensively in New York, London, and Hollywood, creating feature films, commercials, title sequences, and television specials. He is equally at home with traditional hand-drawn animation and the most up-to-date computer animation, and has pioneered ground-breaking techniques in both worlds.

After the success of films like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “The Little Mermaid”, Disney came knocking at Eric’s door, and convinced him to come to California for what turned out to be a 10-year run at the studio. Eric was involved in Classiscs like “Aladdin”, “Pocahontas”, “Hercules” and “Fantasia/2000”. Eric also directed, wrote and animated two critically-acclaimed sequences for that film: “Carnival of the Animals” and “Rhapsody in Blue”.

Also during his time at Disney, Eric experimented with ground-breaking computer animation techniques which replicated the fluidity and “squash-and-stretch” of the best hand-drawn animation, first on a Roger Rabbit test sequence, and then on the Tokyo Disney Seas theme park attraction, “Magic Lamp Theatre,” a stereoscopic, gratuitously-throw-everything-at-the-audience, 3-D computer animation.

Eric also was Animation Director on Warner Brother’s “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”, directed by Joe Dante. On this film, Eric got to handle the legendary Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Wile E. Coyote, Yosemite Sam and the entire Warners stable, as well as providing the voices (!) for Speedy Gonzales, Tweety, and Marvin the Martian.

In 2006, Eric directed a 12-minute high-definition cartoon for a Buddhist cultural center in Hong Kong. “A Monkey’s Tale” and also 4 minutes of brand-new animation starring Disney’s “The Three Caballeros” (Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito) for the updated Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT Center in Florida.

In 2006, Eric returned to his alma mater, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and worked on Projects like “The Princess and the Frog”, “Winnie the Pooh”, “Wreck-It Ralph” and Mickey Mouse short, “Get a Horse”.

In February 2011, Eric was awarded the prestigious Winsor McCay award from ASIFA-Hollywood for lifetime achievement in animation.

  • Talk - 2D to 3D – 2D Techniques in a 3D World

    Eric Goldberg will talk about one of the core areas of expertese of Disney Animation Studios: Creating living characters in 2D and transitioning them to the new technique of 3D animation. Afterwards, he will sit down for one hour with the guests of the PIXEL, giving feedback to animations and portfolios from the point of view of the animation master. After the screening of Disney’s new animation short “Get A Horse” at the PIXEL Animation Festival on Sunday, Goldberg will hold a masterclass on the production of this timeless short.

Michael Paeck

Cliffhanger

Michael has been active within the games industry for over 15 years, both in the areas of development as well as publishing. In 2006 he founded Cliffhanger Productions, a company focusing on multi-platform online games for mid-core gamers. Last year Cliffhanger successfully closed a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for their upcoming project “Shadowrun Online”, resulting in the highest funded Austrian Kickstarter project. Besides “Shadowrun Online” he also worked on “Jagged Alliance Online”, the “Gothic” and “Risen” series and “Die Völker”.

Troy Saliba

Sony Pictures Imageworks Animation Director

Troy Saliba is an animation supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, most recently completing work on Disney’s OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL with director Sam Raimi.

Prior to OZ, Saliba was Imageworks’ animation supervisor on Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action/ animated feature, THE SMURFS (3D).

In his ten years at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Saliba has served as the Animation supervisor on the family adventure film G-FORCE (3D), MONSTER HOUSE (3D) and THE HAUNTED MANSION and worked as a senior animator on the Academy Award-winning SPIDER-MAN 2, STUART LITTLE 2, winner of the Visual Effects Society award in 2003 for Best Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture, and Imageworks’ first CG short—THE CHUBBCHUBBS! winner of an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Prior to Imageworks, Saliba was Supervising Animator on the 2001 Paramount Pictures/ Nickelodeon Movies feature JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS-one of the first animated films ever to be nominated for an Oscar.

In 1995, Saliba served as Animation Director on the feature films ANASTASIA and TITAN A.E. for Fox Animation.

Saliba spent time in Sydney, Australia with Walt Disney Television Animation where he worked as a Character Animator and Animation Supervisor on numerous television shows and direct-to-video features.

Saliba is an animation industry veteran with wide-ranging experience in both traditional and CG character animation. He began his career in Dublin, Ireland working for Don Bluth Animation on animated features including ROCK-A DOODLE and THUMBELINA. While in Dublin, he also taught animation at Ballyfermot College.

  • Talk - Developing Animated Characters For Film

    My talk will focus on character development on various projects from Sony Pictures Imageworks, including G-Force, Monster House, Smurfs and ending with Oz the Great and Powerful. I will cover the process from preproduction to post production. Including on the on set experience. Working with the Director, Cinematographer, Visual Effects Supervisor, and Actors to help realize the characters through the filming process.

Christophe Hery

Pixar Senior Researcher

Christophe Hery joined Pixar in June 2010, where he holds the position of Senior Scientist. He has recently been writing new lighting models and rendering methods for Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella.

An alumnus of Industrial Light & Magic, Christophe previously served as a research and development lead, supporting the facility’s shaders and providing rendering guidance. He was first hired by ILM in 1993 as a senior technical director. During his career at ILM, he received two Technical Achievement Awards from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

  • Talk - Physically inspired lighting at Pixar

    Pixar transitioned to physically based lighting approaches for the recent show Monsters University. This work led to more “natural” ways for lighting shots, reducing considerably the complexity of the setups, as well as providing looks never quite (easily) achieved before within the company.

    We will dive into the specific technologies at the core of this rendering revolution. Along the way, we will take some examples among the new area lights and energy conserving materials developed for MU.

    We will also show how these new sets of tools were used on The Blue Umbrella short film, to accomplish a true photographic vision. Specific “macros” were developed in production, to dress such luminaires as the various neon signs and the lamp posts in the city.

Markus Kurtz

hythm & Hues Studios VP, Production Technology

Markus Kurtz serves as vice president of production technology at Rhythm & Hues Studios. With more than 16 years of experience in visual effects production, Markus works closely with each of the studio’s production and technology teams to oversee technical and creative solutions based on current production challenges and future technology goals.
Markus and his teams have been actively involved in such current and recent R&H productions as “Life of Pi,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” “X-Men: First Class,” “Yogi Bear” and “The A-Team.”
Previously, Markus worked as a digital effects supervisor at Rhythm & Hues and CG supervisor at Digital Domain. His many film credits include “Titanic,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Happy Feet” and “Superman Returns.”
Markus holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University for Arts and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria, where he was born and lived before moving to the United States in 1996.

  • Talk - Making of Life of Pi

    In this presentation Markus Kurtz will provide an detailed insight into the planning, R&D and execution of the visual effects for ‘Life of Pi’, which were recognized with the Academy Awards for Visual Effects earlier this year.

Mario Ucci

Passion-Pictures Creative Director

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Moved to London in 2003 to work on the Gorillaz promos as a digital artist initially then to art direct the promos from the 2010 album – Plastic Beach. Currently a Creative Director at Passion-Pictures, focusing in full CG and character driven shows.

  • Talk - BBC Olympics – Art Direction

    The 2012 BBC Olympics film, Directed by Pete Candeland and art directed by Mario Ucci and Rick Thiele.

    The focus of the presentation will be the decisions made early on, in conversations with the BBC and agency until the final grading session with the agency. A complete walk-through in chronological order showing work in progress images, turnarounds, animations, PDF documents etc.

    Topics include:

    • Getting past the “CG versus Live Action” approach. Finding the perfect balance between realistic anatomy and animation-oriented design;
    • Choosing the right color palette to every location;
    • Hand animating muscle deformation;
    • Finding the right personality for each athlete and its discipline;
    • The animation process from previz to final animation;
    • Retouching rigging/deformation by hand;
    • Matte painting/camera projection and CG renders;

    And a lot more!