Zurich Summit: A glimpse into the future of filmmaking and technology
by Birgit Heidsiek
- The third annual event, organised in collaboration with the Zurich Film Festival, focused on art, technology and innovation
The third annual Zurich Summit brought together about 180 investors, producers, filmmakers and technology experts from around the world. Top-class industry representatives such as Robert Sumner, associate director of Disney Research Zurich, Christian Scheurer, award-winning concept artist on films such Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and Frank Patterson, chief creative officer of Pulse Evolution, gave a glimpse into the future of filmmaking and technology.
“We had venture capitalists speaking about technology, and, in particular, about virtual reality, which was a hot topic”, reported Amy Baker, who hosted the Zurich Summit in cooperation with Katherine Winston and Karl Spoerri, the co-director of the Zurich Film Festival. “A lot of investors are putting money into the actual technology that is being used in the whole filmmaking process.”
While Christian Scheurer pointed out how designers are building the sets nowadays, with all kinds of computer applications in his keynote, “From concept to reality: Building a cinematic universe”, Robert Sumner discussed the technology behind the magic. He presented applications that children can use on their iPad. Kids can draw Disney characters, do puzzles and put the characters from A Little Mermaid onto the picture. Furthermore, Disney is working on a new technology which brings the characters to life in 3D. By pressing the music button, the characters start singing Disney songs, such as “Under the Sea” from A Little Mermaid, while another button activates a piano that starts to play. “This is the difference between virtual reality and artificial reality”, says Amy Baker. “In virtual reality you have the screen on front of you and then you look into this world through it.”
An entire virtual experience was presented by Frank Patterson, who produced a concert with live music and live dancers fronted by the virtual image of Michael Jackson. At the Zurich Summit, he explained how Pulse Evolution created this technology. The company, which specialises in the production of computer-generated human likenesses for use in entertainment, is currently working on bringing Elvis Presley back to life as a “virtual human”.
Aside from various technology businesspeople, renowned directors and producers, such as Oliver Stone and Moritz Borman, as well as indie vet producer Christine Vachon from Killer Film in New York, participated in the Zurich Summit. Moritz Borman and Oliver Stone discussed the challenges they had with Snowden [+see also:
interview: Oliver Stone
film profile]. As Edward Snowden is legally classified as a fugitive, it was difficult to find an insurance company that would insure their film. After clarifying that Snowden could only sue the production if he comes to America, an Australian insurance company was finally willing to take a risk and insure the movie.
Winston Baker produces conferences across the US, Europe, Pacific Asia, China, and Latin America for the entertainment industry addressing strategies for finance, innovation and growth. Their industry events bring together entertainment executives and financiers to present new opportunities in production, distribution and financing.