SPARK [FWD] 2014 an orgy of state-of-the-art light and magic

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With Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Paramount Pictures shipped its last ever can of celluloid.

Though not directly pertinent to the five-day SPARK [FWD] event coming to the Vancity Theatre on Wednesday (February 5), it is another milestone event in our evolving digital future.

Behind the scenes, advanced computer imaging techniques have revolutionized and tipped the balance of filmmaking, not to mention the related fields of effects, animation, gaming, and even all that fun stuff that gets slapped on your tablet or mobile device.

After four years of organizing a hybrid job market, conference, and state-of-the-arts film festival, SPARK FX has hooked up with 3D [FWD]—previously a conference organized by Emily Carr’s S3D Centre and the International 3D Society—to form SPARK [FWD] 2014.

In a shiny, binary nutshell, it’s an expanded version of what the two entities were doing separately before, providing an orgy of cutting edge industrial light and magic for Vancouver’s VFX tech sector, fused to a meet-and-greet.

As one of SPARK’s organizers and a faculty member at the Centre for Digital Media, Larry Bafia knows the he’s priming his students for an industry in a serious growth spurt. In the realm of film alone, “effects is now an important part of the narrative,” he says, in a call to the Straight.

“Very few films are designed without thinking about what digital effects can do for the story. It gives the person designing the film a much bigger canvas. It may be a period piece where we’re removing a jet stream; telephone poles have to disappear; clouds have to be added. It’s not exactly just blowing up things real good.”

Baffia himself entered the field in the late ‘70s, and he emphasizes that his own career has been a picture of quick adapting.

“Otherwise, I would be talking to you right now about my career in clay animation, cause that’s where I started,” he says. “So basically it’s just keeping an open mind about how you can apply your talents to technology that’s constantly evolving. It’s exactly how I’ve been a survivor in my career.”

As such, there’s a diverse array of companies setting up shop for the job-fair portion of SPARK [FWD], including Industrial Light & Magic, Digital Domain, Framestore, Image Engine, Zoic Studios, 3pod Talent Agency, Gener8 Media Corp., Moving Picture Company, Nerd Corps Entertainment, Prime Focus World and Scanline VFX.

The conferences, presentations, and panels are no less impressive, starting with a keynote on opening night from Michael Uslan, executive producer on everything bearing the name Batman since Tim Burton’s 1989 feature (which will screen afterwards).

A lengthy roster of speakers follow with credits ranging from King Kong, Iron Man 3, and Avatar to Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Tangled, and Kylie Minogue Live 3D.

And then, of course, there are the movies—including Pacific Rim 3D, brand-spanking new 3D conversions of Jurassic Park (February 8), The Wizard of Oz (February 9), and a classic triple bill of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Creature From the Black Lagoon 3D, and House of Wax 3D.

”We’re basically offering the flavour of the kind of material that’s being covered in the conference,” as Bafia puts it. “For the folks who can’t sit through the talks during the day or don’t have much of an interest, they can still have a taste of why we’re gathering.”

More info here.

Spark [FWD] 2014 runs at the Vancity Theatre from February 5-9

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