IAMAG Master Classes 2016 counted with 16 of the “top of the cream” speakers, sharing their knowledge on the CG Arts of 2D, 3D, FX and Animation. The location for such a marvel to take place for nothing less than The National Library of France (Bibliothèque Nationale de France), a benchmark of modern architecture in the city of Paris, home to the literary treasure of the French nation.

IAMAG Master Classes ’17 Starts in … 

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…Act before it’s Sold out!

But that wasn’t all. The three days of event had novelties happening in the entrance hall, such as exhibition and “tasting” of Wacom products, where attendees could site and paint with Cintiqs. There was an Adobe booth, set up to do collaborative artworks, where people used the App Adobe Capture CC to capture images they liked and send it over to Adobe. An artist at the booth would do vector artworks based on the captures – and there was a duo creating traditional drawings to offer as selection for the creations.

IAMAG had also thought about giving a boost on the attendees’ careers. Framestore, MPC and Illumination MacGuff marked their presence doing recruitment sessions. Many artists have sat at their booths and shown their portfolios to embrace such opportunities. Imagine what would be having one of the greatest CG ART names giving personal feedback on your artworks right there, in front of you?

That’s one of the gifts the Master Classes 16 gave its audience! The speakers sat with attendees, tête-à-tête (face to face), giving tips, ideas and positive critique on their portfolios.

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DAY 1 (March, 18th)

A huge line of people formed in front of the entrance hall. Composed of French and international nationalities. Once everybody grabbed the kit with the schedule, badge, pen and sketch pad, the auditorium got crowded. 10:10 a.m. – lights switched off, the cool opening video began.

Marc Simonetti – Speed Painting: Mastering Efficiency

People like the French illustrator both for his amazing talent as well as his charisma. This year , he made the auditorium laugh and have fun during his class. Marc did first a speed painting with a dragon, during which he talked about important things for an illustrator such as “Composition is the way to focus on the subject” and “Whatever I do, I’m going to fail. So don’t worry about the amount of ‘likes’ on Facebook, but the learning process.” As he painted, he also explained the technique as he used new layers, switched brushes and worked the colors.

There was some Q&A between Marc and the audience and he began a new work, the funniest sci-fi snake – ever! He did a space ship to chase the snake, in very basic 3D modeling, then chose an angle for the image and brought it to Photoshop, to paint over and finish the artwork. He experimented with the composition and last details. At the end, when he was done sharing his creative process and its technicalities, he joked that “the real classes were about to begin.” The audience gave him a warm round of applauses.

Carlos Baeña – Animation Process: Character, Personality

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The animator and mentor started his speech with a brief history about his career and told that what makes him excited about animation is “making things move with a sense of purpose and feeling.” He talked about The 12 Principles of Animation and between video clips, he addressed important subjects such as: Research (it needs to be a strong idea about what you want to convey to the audience) and Observation (being a voyeur, finding emotion, looking at everyday things and how people react.)

“Being prepared is half the victory”, Baeña stressed out. He talked about thumbnail sketches, such as the pages of doodles he did for Toy Story, sequence planning (direction, composition), essence of a pose, attitude and emotion of characters, and things such as how we read body language. He’d look at videos, photos and references of himself to apply those references on the characters. He finished the great lecture with themes such as behavior, personality and introduction of a character and how to keep it appealing/interesting to the audience.

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Anselm Von Seherr Thoss – On Set VFX Spervision: Practice and Pitfalls

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VFX artist ‘Ansi’ talked about his background and current work and what On-Set VFX is. It includes things such as “read the script, be the eyes and ears of the VFX vendor, communicate with other departments, break down shots with VFX supervisor, make critical on-set decisions, have a plan b and have a thick skin.” He stressed out that there is no such things as too many pictures and it’s important to make diagrams and anything that may help a 3d artist. He took us on a trip through the different departments of a film production and how blue and green screens work.

He shared secrets as to set markers easily on green screens, and to consider when to use hydraulics instead of VFX. VFX report diagrams can also be done less time-consuming way. When Ansi goes on location he always takes with him a kit, including stuff such as tennis balls (to cut in half and use as markers on the ground), 360 fully spherical camera tripod, laptop, knee pads (if you need to crawl somewhere to get a shot), binder and multicolor pens for VXF reports, and tapes in green, black and red colors to mark green screens. “Ah, do not forget the sun cream!” he completed.

Raphael Lacoste – Environment in Open World Video Game

Would you imagine the Art Director of Assassin’s Creed franchise has his roots in the theater? It was there he first started learning photography. After introducing the audience to his career background and how he went from games to films and book covers, Raphael talked about Black Flag as case-study for the class. “An amazing experience” – the opportunity to do something more organic with this game, he and the crew traveled to locations, where they soaked themselves in inspiration.  “The strongest reference is what you feel, the memories you have, you take all that into the paintings and sketches.” For him, the impressions they had had more weight than any visual reference/photos.

Image composition in open worlds was huge challenge for him. AC Black Flag had the open ocean and the islands. It was important to have memorable composition for them. “One image for a thousand words” was the crew’s motto. They aimed for benchmarks within each environment, to create atmosphere to foster the desire of exploration, gave the game density and style. “We stretched reality and played with contrasts of scale, shapes, etc. to make the game more entertaining and interesting.”

Andrew Schmidt – From Animation to Direction: The Path of Least Resistance

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Andrew walked us through his career change, from many years as a renowned animator to a new role as director. ‘The Path of Least Resistance’ is a metaphor which was best illustrated when he taught us how he started out in the path of the arts, how comic books and old horror movies and passion for monster makeup inspired and paved the road of what he is today.

Martial arts and Bruce Lee added to his philosophy. His biggest difficulty was that he didn’t have a clue on where he wanted to go. “We artists are like that, constantly learning, probing where we can try and succeed.”

Andrew, the wizard of words, said “Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today”, which he quoted from Bruce Lee; “Always do your best, even if it is a job you don’t like”, and “If you constantly do good work, people will remember you.” On characters, he uses this question: “What can you bring to the character that will show emotion?”.

He gave us insights on how animators work at Pixar, the processes and they go through, what is animation (basic principles), rules of relatability, research (reference) and he iced the cake with a word about inspiration: “Don’t wait for it. Inspiration is for amateurs”. And some words about failure, “Failure is a tough word, it is subjective and judge ourselves very hard.”

Andrew’s wisdom went beyond and he inspired the audience with great life-and-creative advice.

Simon Holmedal – Iterative Design

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The Swedish VFX artist has had much experience working on short films such as commercials. His workshop was based on case studies of Nike branding. The attendees watched clips of different Nike shoe models and a breakdown/explanation on how the FX on the films were done. On Houdini, he showed us how the abstract FX were achieved. Holmedal’s tips is that for those who like to play with VFX designs, they can build a library and reutilize these ideas/iterations for client work, re-shaping or building up on them.

Part of his speech was a session of Q&A with the audience and he talked about how he got into motion arts & VFX, how he really liked the idea of setting rules on the program and let the computer do the job and how he liked to play with different iterations as a way of research. “The nice thing about working with brands such as Nike is that you get to see your work become real”, as example the shoe stores featuring banners and posters with artworks of his designs.

Simon and his very organic, top notch works closed an empowering and exciting first day of Master Classes.

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