Programme 2015


AnimfxNZ 2015 was made up of the following inspirational and interactive days.








Modo Workshop

Modo is a complete solution for design exploration, game content creation, character animation, and the production of high-quality advertising images. Come and be trained by the experts at Mechanic Animation, along with The Foundry in a practical, hands-on modelling workshop, learning tips and tricks to quickly get up to speed with this fantastic product. By registration only. More information

Exclusive Phantom Boy Premiere

Phantom Boy a is a 2015 animated French film by Folimage production, directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol. Our keynote speaker Michel Nicolas was the Executive Producer on the film and has provided us the opportunity to host the New Zealand Premiere. By registration only. More information




Registration opens at The Embassy Theatre in Wellington. Check out location details here


Conference Opening

Official Opening by Minister Steven Joyce followed by Official Conference Welcome by Chris Whelan (CEO of Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency) and Jos Ruffel (Co-founder of Garage Project).


Neal Stephenson (USA) - Futurist, Magic Leap

Noted author and futurist Neal Stephenson joins us for a conversation where he will share his thoughts on modern society, the near future and the potential of new media like Virtual and Augmented Reality.  This is a special opportunity to hear a unique perspective of someone who is deeply immersed in digital culture and its effect on what it means to be human.

More information about Neal here


Kevin Baillie (USA) - VFX Supervisor, Atomic Fiction

Visual effects helped director Robert Zemeckis tell a spectacular story in his upcoming film, The Walk. Not only were VFX used to bring back a long-gone time & place, 1974 New York and the World Trade Center Twin Towers, they did so using technologies never employed at this scale in the history of movie-making. Kevin Baillie, Visual Effects Supervisor, will be talking about cloud computing, V-Ray for Katana, Virtual Reality, and much more!

More information about Kevin here


MORNING TEA (Career Development Sessions*)


John Sanders (USA) - Sony

Inside Look Out: A PlayStation Guide for Indies

With so many games competing for time and mind share across so many platforms, it can be harder than ever to stand out. Join John for an insider's view of how to best set yourself up for success, on PlayStation or elsewhere.

More information about John here


Animation Panel: NZ content goes Global

Greg Harman (NZ) – Mechanic Animation
Brent Chambers (NZ) – Flux
Martin Baynton (NZ) – Pukeko Pictures

Join us for a panel discussion focused on different ways to get content “off the island” in a sustainable and profitable way.  Experienced industry veterans will share their insights and analysis of the state of the market today and how New Zealand content players can succeed.


Gaming Panel: Business models for the future

Andrew Lamb (NZ) - Camshaft
Tania McRae - CEO of iKEMU
Tim Nixon (NZ) - Runaway Play
John Sanders (USA) - Sony
Facilitator:  Mario Wynands (NZ) - PikPok

Gaming audiences, platforms, and distribution channels are changing rapidly creating new issues and opportunities. Join our expert panel as they delve into business models that work (and those that don’t) and hear their thoughts on what the future holds and how to plan for success.


LUNCH (Career Development Sessions*)


Rob Cavaleri (USA) - CG Supervisor, Blue Sky Studios

Rob will discuss how Blue Sky Studios arrived at the design and style of the upcoming The Peanuts Movie, and how doing so created a number of unprecedented artistic and technical challenges that required a very different approach to typical 3D animated pipeline. 

More information about Rob Cavaleri here


Thunderbirds are Go | Rob Hoegee (USA) & David Scott (NZ)

Facilitator : Andrew Smith (NZ)

How important is it to the writing team link in with the art direction and overall direction for a kids TV series?  Our expert panel will explore the linkages between these creative processes using the hit series Thunderbirds are Go as a case study.  In particular the panel will draw upon their vast experience to discuss both good and bad examples.










AFTERNOON TEA (Career Development Sessions*)

Michel Nicolas (France) - Producer, Folimage

Michel will provide an overview of the French animation scene and explores the evolution of Folimage and what makes them so successful.  Michel will speak about his current projects in production, including how to build a transmedia project.

Read more about Michel here

Creative Panel: Is Story still King?

Grant Moran (USA) 
Martin Baynton (NZ) – Pukeko Pictures
Rob Hoegee (USA)  
Lisa Shulz (USA) - TellTale
Facilitator:  Shawn O'Keefe (USA), Lightning Lab Manufacturing

A great story traverses all media and our experts will share their thoughts on how the medium effects the art of storytelling.


Networking drinks hosted by Mechanic Animation


PikPok Party Time

The infamous PikPok Party will be at Red Square again...


*Career Development Sessions: The teams at PikPok, Weta Digital and Mechanic Animation will provide feedback on your show-reel/portfolio’s and talk through job opportunities!  This is a great chance to get in front of the right people and also get some valuable insights into what roles are coming up and how to position yourself for them. These sessions will run through morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.


AnimfxNZ Weta Digital Day will showcase Weta's recent work on the Hobbit trilogy and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, as well as delving into some of the latest developments the company has made in VFX technology.



Bus departs from outside Te Papa


Registration opens at The Roxy Cinema in Miramar. Check our location details here.


Thief in the Shadows: Adapting Film Content to VR Experiences
Dan Smith: Software Developer

At the 2015 Game Developer’s Conference Weta Digital, Epic Games, Oculus, and NVIDIA unveiled an extraordinary virtual reality experience: Thief in the Shadows. 

The product of a unique collaboration, Thief in the Shadows is a new experience that pushes the experience of VR to new levels. Thief puts you right in front of the enormous dragon Smaug, letting you experience what it’s like to meet him face to face.

Dan Smith will present an overview of technical and design considerations encountered when adapting film content to this immersive virtual reality entertainment experience.


Physically Based Material Modelling at Weta Digital
Luca Fascione: Head of Rendering Research

This talk will cover Weta Digital's approach to material modeling in the context of rendering for the visual effects industry.

Weta made a number of choices during the design and construction of our current system, some of which are less common than others.  Luca will discuss these with case studies based on recent productions at the studio, such as The Hobbit and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with an eye toward our evolving vision of rendering.


To the Ends of Middle-earth: The Making of The Hobbit
Matt Aitken: Visual Effects Supervisor

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies marked the end of an era for Weta Digital. The visual effects for the Hobbit trilogy were an extraordinary undertaking; from groundbreaking CG creature and character work (including Gollum, Smaug, and Azog) to giant battle sequences; complex fire, destruction, and water effects; and vast digital environments. 

Over the course of the three films Weta Digital challenged what was possible in visual effects. Matt Aitken will discuss how 20 years of creativity and innovation came together in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with a particular focus on Peter Jackson’s extensive use of virtual-production techniques.


Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Pavani Rao Boddapati: CG Supervisor
Simon Jung: Compositing Supervisor

Animfx attendees will experience Weta Digital's first presentation of the recently released Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

This session reveals how Weta worked hand-in-hand with the director to create signature elements of the film.

Simon and Pavani will discuss Weta’s unique approach to building a physically accurate version of a vast, post-apocalyptic city – and its fearsome inhabitants. They will also delve into the philosophies and artistic principles that help drive the vision of VFX artists when tasked with creating believable, fictional worlds


Lunch hosted by Weta Digital





Writing for Animation Workshop
 With Rob Hoegee & Grant Moran

Come along for a fire-side chat at Park Road Post Café and hear two industry gurus share their insights into the specific skills and processes needed for writing cartoons.  They will explore not only how to develop a show bible but also how to write great characters.  Not to be missed!