Poll: GDC VFX Roundtable Topics

Hey, everybody! Thanks to @Drew for having confidence to bring me back as facilitator for day 2 of VFX roundtables this year. To get everyone updated, here’s the schedule of VFX roundtables during GDC week:

Wednesday: Open topics based on Bootcamp talks
Thursday: The art of VFX
Friday: The tech of VFX / VR

I thought it would be nice to get some suggestions beforehand on what y’all are most interested in discussing on Thursday of GDC week. Here’s some ideas I want to pitch to y’all. Would love your thoughts/votes/other ideas on this!

  1. Art Directing VFX
    A discussion about the various ways we try to pin down our final vfx aesthetic on our various projects, and the relevant challenges. Does your art director do paintovers? Do you jam on ideas in a meeting with concept, character, or environment artists? Or do you simply make whatever you make, throw it in the game, and call it good?

  2. The Craft of VFX
    A discussion about the skill sets that most benefit us as craftsmen. Depending on the project, concept painting, frame-by-frame 2D FX, particle animation, material editing, pre-rendered VFX, and/or scripting are all good skills to have. How have these and others come in handy throughout your career? How did you learn them?

  3. VFX Education
    (Another) discussion about teaching VFX, in order to meet the ever-growing need for VFX artistst. What’s the current climate of VFX education? Schools, online courses, tutorials, and mentorship are all effective to different degrees and in different circumstances. How are you sharing what you know, and how can we help?

  4. Developing a VFX Style
    A discussion about all the decisions and considerations that go into a final style. Examples include gathering reference, integrating with the game’s master style guide or creative direction, trial and error, or cramming in whatever works at the tail end of production. How has this process gone for you in the past (good or bad examples)?


I guess given the size of the room the round table stuff takes place in, there’s no way this could be recorded this year?

To contribute to this, maybe a topic of what is up-and-coming tech/software/techniques for real time effects? Things that may not be viable this minute, but artists should start trying their hand at or practicing/optimizing for when we can start using it for in-game content. As an example, years ago you would sound crazy to suggest volumetric stuff for in-game effects, and yet they’ve used it (sparsely) in Fortnite. We’ve gone from single texture, unlit sprites for smoke, to sub-uv textures using motion vectors and normals in their material for detailed lighting and smooth frame blending. What kind of stuff is on the horizon that studios are using sparingly or testing viability for?

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I say get @cEssex and @Mooncake over here and give them a day to do a deep dive into their Coil VDB work =D

Seriously though, what I love most about the round tables is getting to hear all of the tips and tricks used by other artists. I also second @Travis in that I want to hear about new tech and techniques that people are finding useful. I typically leave the roundtables with a small notebook full of ideas and tricks, and spend the next couple months testing them out and seeing how they might fit into our workflows. It’s been extremely beneficial.

I’d also be interested in hearing from people who have been involved in moving their company from one engine to another. We’re in the initial stages of doing that now, and am interested to hear about potential pitfalls and troubles others have had that I might not have yet considered.

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Are roundtables part of the Bootcamps or is it part of the Conference? im a GDC Noob.

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It’s part of the conference

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Which means you’re shelling out $1.7k-2k if you want to attend both :sob:

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aah too bad, I decided to just go with the bootcamps and summits. Don’t have that kinda moola atm hehe

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I’m not going, so I’m relying on vigorous notetaking and someone hooking the room up to discord.

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I would love if they live streamed the round tables; I’d pay for access to that. I know someone usually takes notes, but I feel like there’s an element to them that gets lost between the lines.

@DeepSpaceBanana I’m completely out for that very reason, it’s crazy expensive this year. I did the summits/boot camps pass last year.


Totally hear you on the value of discussing tech and tools. To clarify, what we’re trying to do is devote different days to different ends of the VFX spectrum. So Friday is set aside for a deeper dive on tech, while Thursday is more art sensibility/style focused. I admit there’s a huge overlap when we start talking about “the craft of VFX,” but I’d like to give ample time to both ends of the spectrum if possible.


Fantastic ideas for Friday’s tech discussion. Summoning @Drew to take note of possible topics.

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Presuming my diabolical schemes work out as planned, I’ll actually be at the VFX Round-table this year. Last year I was only able to do the Bootcamps, so to say I’m really looking forward my first ever VFX Roundtable would be an understatement. Honestly all this sounds amazing to me, but of course it does. I’m new. Everything is still shiny to the experience of my eyes. That said, If ya’ll talk about VFX Education, I may be able to give a degree of context as… well… I’m your market. :slight_smile:

Awesome thread - let’s hijack it to discuss all things VFX Round Table related! Noted the request for topics on the tech side of things. Keep those (and all) suggestions coming.

Unfortunately streaming/recording the roundtables is a GDC call. I recognize it’s prohibitively expensive for lots of folks, but unfortunately detailed note taking is about the best we can do within the GDC umbrella. I’ll ask again and see if they’ll let us throw a mic in the room this year though. If they do let us, it will almost certainly be restricted to the vault (but that’s still better than nothing).

Thanks for kicking off the conversation Jason! Look forward to see everyone in meat space.


Could someone remind us the exact time and place for the roundtables?

For the art discussions:

  • How to manage your references / get thing organised? (and not end up with things saved all over the place.)
  • How do you deal with post processing (which can be destructive for effects)? How do you make your effects look consistent throughout the game and integrated within the environment.
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Thanks for the suggestions! As for exact time and place, I don’t believe it’s been officially announced yet. We’ll know when you know, whenver GDC updates the session listings on their site.

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I see, that explains why I couldn’t find it.

tech theme for @drew: temporal aliasing & vfx

a couple more for @drew:

  • managing libraries between projects
  • content organisation, sorting by data type, by feature, by theme…
    usage of tags / naming convention / thumbnails etc. to find existing reusable content

Times and locations have been released:

Wednesday, March 21 | 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Visual Effects Artist Roundtable Day 1
Speaker: Drew Skillman (Google)
Location: Room 207, South Hall

Thursday, March 22 | 11:30am - 12:30pm
Visual Effects Artist Roundtable Day 2: Artistic Lens
Speaker: Jason Keyser (Riot Games)
Location: Room 215, South Hall

Friday, March 23 | 11:30am - 12:30pm
Visual Effects Artist Roundtable Day 3: Technical Lens
Speaker: Drew Skillman (Google)
Location: Room 215, South Hall


I recently looked over the schedule for GDC’18 as it currently exists. And of course, there are a number of things I want to go to, but overlap. Now I need to make some choices.

I am aware the Bootcamps are recorded, and as I know it right now, The Roundtables are not. Because of course not, that would make things easier.

Can’t have that.

Based on past events, what are The Roundtables like? How different do the three sessions tend to be?

Thank you! :grinning: