Allowing Stories to be Told: The Importance of VFX
The Visual Effects Society Bay Area section is thrilled to announce that Academy Award and two-time Golden Globe winning producer Jon Landau will be the Keynote Speaker at the VES Bay Area's third annual Production Summit hosted at Dolby Labs Headquarters in San Francisco this September.
Jon Landau holds the distinction of having produced the two highest grossing movies of all-time, AVATAR and TITANIC. The combination of Landau's thorough understanding of the most complex state-of-the-art technologies, his ability to work hand-in- hand with the highest caliber of creative talent, and his motivational ability has enabled him to play a significant role in numerous major motion pictures.
Throughout his career, Landau has also been very instrumental in the licensing and marketing of his films across all platforms globally. He has taken a hands on approach to bringing innovation, diversity and showmanship to these areas of the process.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Landau is pro-actively working with companies and individuals throughout the entertainment industry to push technologies to new levels that will allow new stories to be told and then presented in more engaging and immersive ways.
Landau is currently producing ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (directed by Robert Rodriguez) and in pre-production on four AVATAR sequels (all of which are being directed by James Cameron).
Dr. Michael B. Johnson
Making Movies is Harder than it Looks: Building Tools for Telling Stories
Pixar Animation Studios
Dr. Michael B. Johnson has been at Pixar for over 20 years - he started as an intern in 1993 while working on his PhD at the MIT Media Lab and joined full-time in 1995.
He's currently a Pre-Production Architect in Pixar's Studio Tools R&D department, where he has led groups responsible for the design, implementation and support of the pre-production pipeline for Pixar features and shorts. These areas includes Story, Editorial, Art, Production Management, and the Review process. His teams worked directly with the directors, editors, producers, production designers, art directors, artists and production groups who start the process of bringing Pixar stories to the screen.
As an individual contributor, Dr. Johnson wrote tools for all of Pixar's feature films (and many of their short films), including storyboarding, pre-viz, layout, animation, modeling, lighting, rendering, and editorial tools.
Before that, he led an early effort at Pixar in the Interactive Division to explore possibilities for storytelling and character construction.
Prior to Pixar, he attended the University of Illinois where he earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science Engineering. He studied abroad for a year in Swansea, Wales and also worked for NCSA, Thinking Machines, IBM and MIT’s Media Lab.
He completed his Masters of Science in Visual Studies and his PhD in Computer Graphics and Animation at the MIT Media Lab, where Dr. Edwin Catmull (founder of Pixar) was on his thesis committee. He lives in Oakland CA with his wife and daughter.
Paul Lambert is an Academy Award and BAFTA winning VFX Supervisor with over 20 years of experience in the visual effects industry and has recently worked with director Damien Chazelle as the production VFX supervisor for Universal Picture's FIRST MAN.
Most recently, Paul was VFX Supervisor for Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi landmark BLADE RUNNER 2049, notably creating the iconic LA environments and the ‘Joi’ hologram character, amongst other work. He worked with Denis and cinematographer Roger Deakins to create the look and feel of Los Angeles in 2049, as well as inventing the on-set techniques to create a photo-real hologram. Paul was based in Budapest for 6 months during preproduction and oversaw all of Dneg's on-set sequences, as well as sequences for other facilities.
In early 2018, Paul won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and the BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects for his outstanding work on BLADE RUNNER 2049. He was also nominated for the VES Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature.
In 2016 Paul served as production VFX supervisor for Universal's THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR. Paul oversaw all the on-set photography and 940 shots in post, spread across four facilities. He also oversaw several splinter units during this time.
Throughout his career Paul has excelled in combining the creative with the technical aspects of visual effects. For THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, Paul oversaw the show’s compositing look as well as being one of the architects of the on-set VFX capture techniques used in New Orleans. This was instrumental in creating the photo-realism of an aged computer generated Brad Pitt which led to a VFX Oscar for the team’s work. The 2008 on-set lighting capture techniques created for this film are still in use to this day. Paul is also the sole inventor of the greenscreen keyer ‘IBK’ used in Nuke, the movie industry’s compositing software of choice.