On Saturday, July 27, over 560 participants gathered for the eleventh annual Digital Day symposium at the Guild’s Los Angeles Theater complex. This year's event was titled “Hands on the Future of Entertainment” and provided the opportunity for DGA members and guests to immerse themselves in interactive hands-on demonstrations with the latest technologies and educate themselves via presentations about the latest technologies at their disposal.
VFX Across the Board: From Indies to Blockbusters
Directors and VFX experts participate in
2013 Digital Day presentations.
See more photos in the gallery below
The day began in DGA Theater One with a welcome from DGA Special Projects Committee Chair Jeremy Kagan and preview of the day’s offerings by Special Projects Digital Day Subcommittee Chair Randal Kleiser. Then Kleiser wasted no time in kicking of the proceedings by moderating the three-part presentation VFX Across the Board: From Indies to Blockbusters, an exploration of the art and craft of creating visual effects for a range of budgets.
The first installment, “VFX from Jersey Shore Shark Attack” looked at the work that went into making the effects for the low-budget SyFy Channel movie for television with Director John Shepphird (Chupacabra Terror, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus) and VFX Supervisors BenniQue Blasini (Super Shark, Christmas Twister) and Steven M. Blasini (Ice Spiders, Fantastic Four). The next segment, “VFX from Machine Gun Preacher,” discussed the making of the action feature with Director Marc Forster (World War Z, Finding Neverland), who spoke via a video appearance, and VFX Designer Kevin Tod Haug (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Quantum of Solace). The final segment, “VFX from Iron Man 3,” demystified the magic behind the creation of the dazzling effects of the superhero blockbuster with Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and VFX Supervisors Erik Nash (Real Steel, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) and Christopher Townsend (Captain America: The First Avenger, Ninja Assassin.)
Taking the Leap into 21st Century Filmmaking
The next session in Theater One featured a panel of Directors discussing how the technology available to filmmakers has changed movie-making in the modern era. Taking the Leap into 21st Century Filmmaking offered the thoughts and opinions of Directors Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead, Panic Attack!), Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Wanted), Joseph Kosinski, (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy), Kimberly Peirce (Carrie, Boys Don’t Cry), and Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), in a conversation about the changes they have witnessed and the challenges they present. The discussion was moderated by Director/Special Projects Committee member Oz Scott (CSI: NY, Home Run Showdown).
New Developments in Original Programming for the Web
The third Theater One session explored the fast-growing genre of original programming for the Internet. New Developments in Original Programming for the Web featured experts who are working in this arena such as Directors Michael Gallagher (Smiley, Totally Sketch), Stewart Hendler (Halo Forward Unto Dawn, H+:The Digital Series), Clinton Jones (Cardboard Warfare, Dead Island: No Retreat), and Relativity Media’s Senior Vice President of Digital Content & Programming Kendall Rhodes. The panelists offered their thoughts in a discussion moderated by Producer John Frank Rosenblum, Founder of Epic Level Entertainment, a company that creates genre content for film, television and new media.
Theater Two Screenings
Digital Day attendees also enjoyed short screenings in DGA Theater Two that included highlights from previous Digital Day symposia, a montage of classic effects from the films of the legendary Ray Harryhausen, and a comprehensive camera comparison by Radiant Images during the morning session and a Zacuto Camera Shootout at the end of the day.
In Theater One following the lunch break, the audience was treated to a series of short presentations. In the first presentation, Director Frederic Lumiere (WWII in HD) discussed work behind Normandy's 100 Days, a short film he made about the D-Day invasion which is the first 360 degree film ever to be projected in 13K. Digital Day veteran Dr. Paul Debevec, the Associate Director of Graphics Research at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, presented “New Advances in Creating CGI Actors,” an exploration of the latest possibilities in bringing unreal characters to life. VFX Supervisor John “DJ” DesJardin (Sucker Punch) provided a look into the making of Director Zack Snyder’s blockbuster film with “CG Characters from Man of Steel.” Indiegogo Creative Campaign Specialist David Abramovich and Producer Emerson Collins, who financed Del Shore’s independent feature Southern Baptist Sissies with an Indiegogo campaign, explained “crowdfunding,” an alternative to traditional film financing, in “Funding Your Dream Project with Indiegogo.” Visualization Supervisor Alexander B. Vegh (R.I.P.D.) discussed the creation of shots he conceived for Director Justin Lin’s latest installment in the Fast & Furious franchise in “Visualizing Fast & Furious 6.” In the final Theater One presentation, “I, Frankenstein: Putting it Together in the Digital Intermediate,” Digital Intermediate Colorist Siggy Ferstl (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and VFX Supervisor James McQuaide (The Covenant) demonstrated the DI process as used in Director Stuart Beattie’s upcoming theatrical release I, Frankenstein.
Creative and Production iPhone and iPad Apps for Directors and AD/UPMs
In Theater Two the DGA AD/UPM Council West’s AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee presented iPhone and iPad Apps for Directors and AD/UPMs where Committee Chair Susan Zwerman (Vamps) instructed the audience in the abilities of numerous mobile apps and accessories; and moderated demonstrations by Committee members Billy Greenfield (Glee), Mark Hansson (Happy Endings), and Larry Lerner (Last Resort); and other presentations from Director/Visual Effects Supervisor Zach Lipovsky (Tasmanian Devils) and Visual Effects Producer Jenny Fulle (After Earth).
Hands-On Demos and Lobby Exhibits
In the DGA lobby, attendees were able to engage in hands-on demonstrations and exhibits provided by Archimedia Technology, BrainWave, Busby, Firefly Systems, ICG Local 600, Local Hero Post, NCAM, Pixel Magic, The Third Floor/Knight Vision, and TouchEdit App. Attendees were also welcome to try out the latest cameras and technologies from ARRI, Blackmagic, Canon, Novo, RED and Sony.
At the end of the day, all attendees were invited to a wrap party and demonstration of the 4DX Immersive Cinema Experience hosted by CJ 4DPlex at their screening facility on Hollywood Boulevard.
Video from Digital Day 2013 will be posted here in the near future.