Yesterday I got home after three exciting days at FMX 2011 in Stuttgart, Germany. I have attended this conference since 2006, speaking about real-time graphics and the demoscene. FMX (or indeed “the 16th Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Interactive Media” which is it’s full name) is a fantastic conference, and I urge anyone with the means and opportunity to visit it. The whole conference lasts for five days, and is also closely tied to the ITFS (an animated/short-film festival) which goes on at the same time.
FMX is an interesting place to speak because the conference itself is cross-media (film, animation, technology and education) and divided into several sections: workshops, seminars, talks, exhibitions and a trade-floor with actually interesting exhibitors — not blood-thirsty sales people — which is always nice. Apart from the talks, I especially enjoy the exhibition “Into The Pixel” which is arranged by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and mirrored at FMX. Take a look at the 2010 selection of fantastic game art.
This year, the conference had over 3.500 visitors every day, and a vast majority of them were students. I find that speaking for students can sometimes be challenging, but at FMX it is nearly always pleasant, because they really want to be there and are genuinely interested in what you have to say (and show). My session at FMX has always been very much about the visuals, because it is way more engaging for the audience to actually see what demos are, compared to the somewhat theoretical exercise of talking.
After having a few years to “home in” on the perfect way to arrange my talk, I have landed on the following: a quick 10-minute introduction where I cover a few words about myself (“Why should we listen to you?”), what I represent (“Scene.org, archive, platform, the awards”), and what demos are (“Always hard to explain..”). After that, I quickly move on to showing demos, and I keep the interruptions between each production to the minimum (often just referencing what we’ve just seen, and what is coming up).
You can see the slides I used this year here (PDF). If you’re interested in what I’m currently working on, there is a little hint in there as well. :) As usual, comments are always appreciated.
In terms of what I show, I have a bit of creative freedom here, because I have to restrict myself to a maximum of 40 minutes (often a bit less than that) to fit the hour-long slot, and still leave room for technical glitches/questions/my own rants. There is no secret that every year I have personal favourites among the nominees for the Scene.org Awards from which I pick the productions, but I also have to balance it up to make a good show.
I also have to keep in mind that between the demos I am going to tell the story of the different categories, and especially the size-optimized ones (64k and 4k intros) require a bit of a lead-in.
This year at FMX, I showed the following (in this order):
- Wir Sind Einstein by United Force and Digital Dynamite (download / video)
- Phon by PlayPsyCo (download / video)
- fr-063: Magellan by Farbrausch (download / video)
- Ceasefire by Fairlight and CNCD (download / video)
- X Marks The Spot by Portal Process (download / video)
- cdak by Quite and Orange (download / video)
- Finally Inside by Still (download / video)
- Happiness is Around the Bend by ASD (download / video)
After the session I spent some time talking to students and others who were lingering in the hall after I was done and answered a number of questions about the demoscene, how to get started and such. It is always nice to see people interested in the scene, especially at such a production-oriented conference as FMX, where people usually have set their eyes on a career in film or games.
I will most likely return to FMX in 2012 to talk more about the demoscene and show more cool demos. Until then, feel free to follow me on Twitter or just e-mail me.