Animex ’09

At Teesside University, I’m lucky to be both on-site and recieve a student discount for our annual Animex event. This was my second year attending, and I’ve always been impressed with the range and profile of speakers who are willing to come out to Middlesbrough and share their pearls of wisdom with a primarily student-populated audience. The aim of Animex is to “educate, entertain, and inspire at every level from school children right through to the highest level of professional practitioner.”

While there’s plenty of time aside for aspiring animators, Animex has a two-day focus on video games, and from the 2nd-3rd of February we were graced with developers from local studios to those working on triple-A titles, including Wheelman, Prince of Persia, Saints Row 2, Dead Space and Left4Dead. This year also saw Hideki Osada of Famitsu Magazine talk to us about the Japanese games market, accompanied by Haru Takahashi, former Marketing Director at Eidos Japan, and even renowned artist Susumu Matsushita (eat your heart out, he complemented ‘boro on its wonderful meals). It’s humbling that they were happy to travel so far for the event.

I didn’t attend the full Animation shindig, but after a quick glance through the programme we attracted bodies from both Pixar Animation Studios and Disney Feature Animation, and also hosted a screening of Bolt in 3D.

Now I have a confession to make. This may result in people shaking their fists over the internet at me. I have never played a Street Fighter game, I’ve got absolutely no inclination towards the franchise at all, yet The return of Street Fighter 2 with Jim Zubkavich and Long Vo was one of the most enjoyable talks I sat through, from the artistic direction and developing the look of the original characters, to, well, this…

Other highlights for me included Ian Livingstone’s entertaining account of his experiences setting up Games Workshop in the 1970s, Dungeons & Dragons, White Dwarf Magazine, the Fighting Fantasy books, and later his work with Eidos and the Tomb Raider franchise. (Did you know there was a Tomb Raider album released in France? No? Ha!).

In retrospect, Midway’s talk on the use of motion capture in Wheelman is somewhat saddening now, as the studio was recently announced bankrupt. A momentous amount of time and effort was put in to the motion capture process, and although there are rumours Ubisoft will be picking up where Midway left off, it can’t be easy to just pass on all the progress that was made.

Animex is a wonderful event, it’s cheap to attend for students, bustling with industry veterans from a broad range of companies offering insight into their experiences and help on how to ‘break in’ to the industry. I’m already looking forward to next year, and I would urge anyone interested in pursuing a career in animation or video games to check it out.







One response to “Animex ’09”

  1. agentluap avatar

    I can’t beleive that I missed this years, totally forgot about it. Seems like it was decent as well.

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