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Demoscene outreach at FMX
by Gloom of Excess

I have been very lucky to have attended FMX two times -- last year and now recently in May. This short piece will tell you a little of my personal experiences attending FMX/07 this May. Before I go on however, let me just explain a little bit about what FMX actually is. FMX is held in Stuttgart, Germany, and is one of the leading European events focused on digital media and content. What this marketing lingo actually means is that FMX gathers all kinds of entertainment and digital media enthusiasts in one place and lets them mingle and attend seminars, screenings and workshops. Animators, effects programmers, game developers, producers, screen writers, scientists, software developers, vendors, graduates and freelancers are just some of the kinds of people you will find at FMX.

FMX/07 speakers lounge

In 2007, approximately 6000 people from 40 countries visited FMX, including people and companies on the front line of visual imaging, such as Disney, Dreamworks, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar etc. In addition to this, over 70 partner companies were on site, offering insights into their latest offerings and upcoming tools. There were close to 400 speakers on the program, spread out over four days in 19 different halls. Alk in all it's the kind of massive event that makes you wish you could turn back time in order to attend mpre seminars and screenings because there is absolutely no way to attend everything you want to see.

Scene.org awards screening at FMX

Now, this is all well and good, but what does FMX have to offer for us sceners? In both 2006 and 2007 I attended as a representative for Scene.org, to present the winners and selected nominees from the Scene.org Awards in a screening format. To put it short: I showed people demos and told them what they were watching. In 2006 this went well, but it was at the latest FMX in 2007 that things really took off. I had hoped that people would come to the screening, as it would be rather embarrassing if the room was almost empty. Rather early on the day of my presentation I began to suspect that it would be a good day, since I met plenty of people in the speakers lounge and on the exhibition floor that told me that they had marked my screening in their programs for the day.

When it was close to the start of my screening, I was told to report to the designated hall to set up my gear. I was kind of shocked to see that not only was there a line outside of the room, but inside, people were not leaving their seats after the previous screening had ended. They were there to watch demos, and this blew me away. By the beginning of the Scene.org Awards screening, people were sitting on the floor so as not to miss it. The room was packed.

During my screening, I showed a variety of demos, including Track One, Chaos Theory, Glitterati, The Evolution of Vision, 1995, Deities, Dead Ringer, Electric Kool-Aid and Starstruck. I also talked a little bit about each pro- duction and tried to keep an informal tone while still being factual. The screening itself was almost completely smooth, apart from a small graphical glitch when showing Starstruck from a DVD I had burned. Speaking of the DVD - I had also prepared a menu-based DVD for handouts. I had done this the year before, but run out of DVDs before the second day. So this year I came prepared with over 70 copies of the DVD.

They were all gone within a matter of minutes after the screening was over. I was utterly flabbergasted.

After the screening, my official part of the program was done and I could spend the rest of my time at FMX to network with people. Mostly this was done face to face, either in the speakers lounge or during the evening dinners. I ended up talking to a lot of exciting people, among whom was Rick Sayre from Pixar who actually ended up setting up an official sponsorship agreement with Scene.org, which is completely marvelous. I also talked to Professor Robert Rose, who was responsible for the "realtime" part of the program, as well as a countless other people (hello to Tom from Crytek and Remi from Sony!) who all found the demoscene to be very exciting. Together with Gargaj, Steeler and Monroe who also attended FMX, we did a huge load of demoscene outreach and I had an absolutely marvelous time. Heck - I even met Cougar/Sanity while standing in line for some food.

My experiences are from the point of view of a speaker at the conference, but most of this can also be experienced by just attending FMX as a regular visitor. They also have special low-priced entry tickets for students, which is great for many sceners as well.

The next FMX will be held from the 5th to the 8th of May, 2008. If you have the chance to go, I would whole-heartedly recommend it.

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