Animago – From sweet pipers to math formulas

In mid-September, the animago took place in Munich, a two-day conference featuring all the latest animation trends, rendering methods and general technical innovations in the 3D and VFX industry. After a great event, I’d like to share some of my personal highlights.


With more than 4.4 million subscribers and over 910 million views on YouTube, this little white cat and its owner Simon are known and loved around the world. Spoiler alert: it’s an interactive 360° video where users search for an animated cat in a dark, spooky forest.

Liza Nechaeva, assistant art director for Simon’s Cat, gave us an exclusive look at the creative process for a Halloween video. The audience learned that all illustrations and animations are still done by hand and that the employees watch cat videos throughout the day for inspiration. And the great thing about this talk was that the creators didn’t portray themselves as pioneers, but instead encouraged everyone and anyone to create their own 360° videos. What’s more, they produced the entire product, from concept to release, in just 5 days.


Matthias Zabiegly shared some nice insights into how the people at Aixsponza tick with his talk “Perfectly pretty – finding the sweet spot between tech and design.” He also addressed some interesting aspects of ideation. For several projects, Matthias has applied mathematical formulas to create procedural animations. These formulas are launched on 3D software and used to render the animation without any manual interventions. Until now, the company has mainly used the process to visualize sporting good articles.


In their talk, Glenn Frey and Jonas Pilz explained why the 3D software Cinema 4D is the perfect program for both novice and professional 3D artists. Examples in the demonstration ranged from the simplest animations done using C4D dynamics to compelling new features like the CMotion tool or the new Voronoi Fracture. Within just a few minutes, they even animated a spider that moved on variable terrain without intersections. The individual process steps were easy to customize and the speakers’ enthusiasm for the software was extremely contagious.

Cinema workshop


Erik Smitt, director of photography at Pixar, took us behind the scenes of the OscarÒ award-winning short Piper. He touched on the development of the adorable character, which was based on real-life sandpipers and tweaked to achieve a signature Pixar look. Beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area served as inspiration for the scenery. The camera team also took some cues from the methods used in nature documentaries, like a long focal length and an extremely high depth of field. This project even required more rendering than the upcoming Toy Story 3 movie.



How can I portray something that’s not normally visible to the human eye? That was the question that Will MacNeil, motion graphics artist at The Mill, decided to pursue together with his team. In a project for the handmade cosmetics brand Lush to advertise a new massage.

Using an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), responses to the massage were recorded and the data output visualized. By applying programs like Houdini or Cinema 4D, the team created fascinating procedural animations that conveyed how the massage felt through the use of color in a short web clip.

For me, it was exciting to get an up-close experience of the current state of the art in high-quality 3D and VFX products and the various directions in which the industry is currently developing.

animago pic