VFX Interview: Jean-Michel Blottiere, Director, RealTime Conference
The RealTime Conference was founded as a means of bringing businesses, technology and policy leaders together to discuss and highlight the potential of real-time graphics and data. The inaugural RealTime Conference will address exactly that on April 6-7, 2020, with simultaneous events taking place in both New York and Paris.
Jean-Michel Blottière is a pioneer in the field of new technologies. After preparing ENS Ulm – a French grande école (higher education establishment) — he created TILT, the very first magazine dedicated to Videogames in Europe (1982), and PixiFoly, the first TV Show to plunge audiences into virtual worlds (1983). Since then, he has been Editor-in-Chief of magazines such as Consoles + and PC Review. He has also produced and hosted TV Shows (Pixifoly, Microkids, the Night of Videogames and more).
As Editorial Consultant for all of Canal+’s “new programs,” he was involved in the creation of such groundbreaking shows as Cyberflash, Cyberculture and Le Deuxième Monde (eight years before Second Life!). Jean-Michel has also been leading prestigious festivals and conferences in Europe (Imagina, FMX, Videogame Economics Forum and more), and is both the president of “Games for Change Europe” and CEO of NX Publishing – The NeXt Media Specialists – a communication company specialized in the field of VFX, Animation, Videogames, VR-MR-AR and Transmedia.
// From Jean-Michel Blottiere, Director, RealTime Conference
Tell us about your start in VFX and your perspectives on entering the field.
I started the very first magazine about videogames in Europe in 1982 and was asked by TF1, the leading TV Channel in France at the time, to create a TV Show dedicated to videogames. Since the graphic quality of games was extremely limited in the early days, I started looking for better quality images. I contacted the French Air Force and got access to army flight simulators images. I attended one of the first conferences about “new images” during the Monte-Carlo Television Festival and got in touch with the pioneers of the field. Since then, I have always had a foot in interactivity/games and another foot in linear/CGX.
What was the impetus for creating RealTime Conference?
There are two reasons:
1) I’m convinced we are entering a new cycle, which is focused on real-time technology. It took, arguably, 50 years to transition from 2D to 3D, and a couple of years ago we were still talking about the uncanny valley. Today, the uncanny valley is much less of an issue and soon it will be a distant memory. Artists can do anything they want in CGX and the limitations shrink every day, but that’s not the case with real-time yet. Real-Time is the next Holy Grail, and this transition will take at least 15 years, in my opinion. The RealTime Conference will help real-time users prepare for the transition, and find new ways to speed it up.
2) Real-Time is not new. Many industries have been using real-time technologies and tools for years, and the game industry has pioneered the field, developing a huge experience in what real-time interactivity means. What is fascinating today is the fact that so many industries are embracing real-time tools, workflows and methodologies. For example, VR and AR are transforming the way architects can experiments with environments they design; virtual production allows directors, cinematographers and VFX supervisors to design scenes together; automotive engineers can change, on the fly, the shape of a car; designers can create and get immediate feed-back and that’s just the start, but there needs to be something that can unify those different fields to the benefit of all.
Real-Time is a tsunami which is changing the way we work, the way we create, the way we live, learn, train and more, but there needs to be a unifying force to bring together those different groups that may not otherwise have any real reason to share their technology. That’s why the conference has put such an emphasis on recruiting speakers from as many industries as possible.
What has the response been to the RealTime Conference so far?
I’m amazed by the support we continue to receive every day. I just attended the Visual Effects Society and the Annie Awards in Los Angeles, and had a chance to present RTC 2020 to some of the majors Hollywood players. Disney, Pixar, Warner Bros.have all confirmed their participation in our event, just to name a few. Walt Disney Imagineering alone will send five top-notch speakers. The entertainment community fully understands the benefits to real-time technology and were quick to join in, but they aren’t alone. We’ll have representatives from some of the biggest architectural, automotive, design & manufacturing organizations in the world, AI experts, design legends and more.
Share something about Registration methods for RealTime Conference?
My suggestion would be to register as soon as possible and benefit from early bird pricing. Members of ASIFA-Hollywood and Visual Effects Society will also receive an additional 30% discount by using the code ASIFA2020 & VES2020.
Also, I strongly recommend booking one of our limited number of VIP passes before they are sold out. VIP passes give access to our speakers lounge – a fantastic opportunity to network with our top-notch speakers – guarantee VIP seating during the conferences and allow VIPs to participate in our networking cocktails and dinners, including a dinner-cruise on River Seine for the Paris audience, and a gala dinner at the Central Park Loeb BoatHouse in New York.
Share Venue details of RealTime Conference?
We are privileged to hold RTC 2020 at the Forum des images in Paris and at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. Both locations are fascinating. Forum des images offers a fantastic venue, with auditoriums ranging from 50 to 500 seats. It’s one of the best places for movie and interactive media lovers in Paris.
Museum of the Moving Image is also a natural fit, as it is dedicated to the love of images. It offers not only fantastic auditoriums, but also friendly networking spaces and, more importantly in my opinion, permanent exhibits dedicated to moving images, including some with 19th century projection systems, ancestors of our real-time tools.
Both places have what I would call a “soul,” and from the start we were not interested in organizing RTC 2020 in cold and lifeless exhibition centers. We are bringing together 1,000 artists, designers and pioneers, all of them passionate believers in art, so we wanted to offer them the most stimulating environment.
Some special speakers/studios participating of RealTime Conference?
We are bringing so many amazing talents together that it’s impossible to name just a few, and part of the appeal is being able to hear from so many different industries.
Personally, I am excited for the keynotes given by Intel’s Fellow Tom Petersen, who is one of my personal heroes in this community. Tom has been instrumental in inventing and bringing to market cool tech during his 13 years tenure at NVIDIA, and I can’t wait to hear about his plans now he joined Intel! I’m also very excited about Epic Games’ Head of LA Lab, David Morin’s keynote, andI can’t wait to hear from Rob Legato, who just won the VES Award for “Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature,” for The Lion King.
GoogleVR’s Paul Debevec, NYU Future of Reality Lab’s Ken Perlinand Light Field Lab’s Jon Karafin should be inspiring, and I’m planning on sitting in on some of the sessions focused on digital humans. I also want to attend the entire series of talks on architecture, and hear from Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid and Agile Lens on the impact real-time is having on architecture. On the automotive front, I’m curious to hear about the latest development at Renault, which pioneered the field since the ‘90s. I’m extremely interested in Audi’s research into “in-car entertainment” with the Holoride presentation, and AR is certainly a hot topic too. I’m very excited with the presentation by Nexus Studios, Samsung and ATT, who transformed Dallas Stadium.There will also be a series of talks about “Real-Time in the Cloud” and “bringing real-time pipelines to movie making” that will be great.
On the design & manufacturing side, I will not miss David Nahon, head of VR at Dassault Systèmes, and members from IKEA will give us a look into their future real-time pipelines.
Our program is so rich it’s impossible to embrace everything, but it’s super exciting too!
You can find a full speaker list here.
The first annual RealTime Conference will be held on April 6-7, 2020. What are the main highlights of the event?
Along with the multiple speaker sessions, we are excited about the ways the show brings people together. Each day weconnect the Paris and New York audiences with a transatlantic demo, uniting both groups, but it goes much further than that. Each city plays host to several roundtable discussions, giving speakers and attendees a chance to exchange ideas. That continues through a series of hosted events where people can connect in a casual environment, and VIP ticket holders have access to the speakers during the day, and at night at the VIP events
As part of the event, we showcase the latest developments in real-time technology from volumetric acquisition to showing the latest development in display technology. We highlight these developments with demonstrations in the areas of collaboration, design, content creation and workflows. These demonstrations allow the speakers to demonstrate their ideas and experiences with actual real-world examples. They also take you to a lab environment and demonstrate the benefits of real-time.
What’s the future for RealTime Conference?
We have plans for the next few years, and ultimately our goal is to have an event that will take place around the globe for 48 hours non-stop, in real-time!
It’s a dream that I have had since I attended a fantastic event created by Autodesk in the ‘90s. Autodesk put together a series of events that were all taking place on the same day, starting in Australia and ending in Los Angeles. I was extremely impressed with this wonderful initiative, and wanted to take this idea a step further. I won’t happen all at once, of course. We will slowly expand to Germany in 2021 and Asia in 2022. The technology involved is pretty complex, but I’m confident we are pioneering the future of conferences.
As an added bonus, in some ways this is a new genre of conference and it will reduce the carbon footprint of events, something that is imperative today. We are also working to improve representation and highlight diversity across the industries. We want to ensure that all voices are represented at the RealTime Conference.
Which is your favourite film in VFX and Animation and why?
It’s impossible to answer this question, there are so many! Recently, I was so impressed with Frozen 2, the technology developed for it is stunning. Toy Story 4 was also incredible and 1917 is mind-blowing. I was so happy for my dear friend Rob Legato, VFX Supervisor on The Lion King, when he received awards for best VFX in a feature movie at the VES Awards. Same for Sergio Pablos with Klaus, and Jeremy Clapin for I lost my body. Alita and The Irishman pushed the limits in the field of Digital Humans too.
This year is filled with incredible performances, and it is made possible by the amazing creativity of so many talented people. We have a tendency to only mention the leaders, but we should never overlook the many labs, studios, researchers, artists, producers, supervisors, technical directors, etc. who are making this possible. RTC 2020 will hopefully bring some of the best, most passionate talents to the show, regardless of name recognition.
What are your special achievements in VFX and the animation Industry?
It’s not really for me to answer this question. I was extremely privileged to step into these communities during the ‘80s, starting the first magazine and the first TV show to plunge audiences in virtual worlds. I remember vividly my first SIGGRAPH. I remember Jaron Lanier unveiling the Data Glove and Data Suit at Imagina. I witnessed the birth of the first GDC, created in the living room of my friend Chris Crawford. I was so honored that my old friends Thomas & Renate Haegele, founders of Filmakademie & FMX, offered me chance to join them and help FMX become the fantastic conference it was and still is.
Maybe the achievement I’m the proudest of is making so many amazing friends in these communities I love. Without them, without their unconditional support and love, it would have been impossible to kick-start the RealTime Conference from scratch. My gratitude goes to all of them.
And of course, my greatest achievement in the animation industry is meeting my beloved Biljana, long time Bill Plympton artistic director, producer and head of studio, now Director, Animation at TED-Ed. I love you, B!
How is the support from various VFX and animation studios/organizations for the RealTime Conference?
We were lucky to receive enthusiastic support from both the VFX and animation communities, from big name companies to up-and-comers that are making huge waves. We’ve also heard from peoples at all levels and at all rolls, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
We’re also proud to work with both the teams at the Museum of the Moving Image and the Forum des images.
Which direction would you like to take your career in the near future?
My focus is firmly on the RealTime Conference – and not just the inaugural event in April, but the next event in 2021, and the year after that in 2022. Our goal isn’t just to focus on this conference, but establish it as an annual event that people plan for, year after year.
Any advice or tips for the young struggling artist to enter the industry?
Don’t be afraid. Dare, succeed, fail, and when in doubt, go back.Rudyard Kipling once wrote something that is as true today as it was then,“meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same”!
We would like to thank Jean-Michel Blottiere for the great interview, and if you like to know more about her, Feel free to reach her out RealTime Conference Team.
This year’s conference takes place from April 6-7, 2020 in both New York and Paris. Registration is now open. Please join us!
For more information, visit at RealTime Conference.