Digital effects specialist from Avatar, Lord of the Rings will speak at Brock

A digital effects specialist who has worked on movies such as Avatar and King Kong will headline next week’s Interacting with Immersive Worlds conference at Brock.

Weta Digital logoDejan Momcilovic is a motion capture supervisor at New Zealand’s Weta Digital, a studio co-founded by director Peter Jackson. The studio has won Academy Awards for its work on Avatar, King Kong and Lord of the Rings. It has also worked on films such as District 9 and X-Men First Class.

Motion capture is the process of transferring an actor’s performance onto digital characters, such as the blue-skinned Na’vi in Avatar or Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Momcilovic will give the conference keynote speech, which is free and open to the public, in Academic South 202 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on June 13.

“This is a major coup for St. Catharines and for nGen (the Niagara Interactive Media Generator),” said Martin Danahay, conference organizer and director of Brock’s Centre for Digital Humanities. “Dejan represents the premier special effects company in the world.”

Michael Schmalz

Michael Schmalz

Momcilovic, who is currently working on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, will talk about how the studio created its award-winning work, from on set to post production.

“I’m not going to get too technical,” he said. “I’ll keep it for a general audience.”

After Momcilovic’s talk, there will be a guided tour of the motion capture studio at the Generator at One, located at One St. Paul St. in downtown St. Catharines.

Work at One St. Paul illustrates that Niagara is emerging as a digital media hub, Danahay said.

“Brock’s Centre for Digital Humanities and nGen downtown is a model for how industry and universities can work together,” he said.

The conference is June 13 and 14 at Brock. This weekend, two teams of students will embark on a 24-hour game design marathon where they create a game based on a concept proposed by Michael Schmalz, CEO of the London, Ont. Gaming company Digital Extremes and a conference keynote speaker. Digital Extremes has co-developed games such as Unreal Tournament and Bioshock.

Other keynotes will be Jon-Paul Dyson from the International Center for the History of Electronic Games in Rochester, NY and David Benyon, director of the Center for Interaction Design at Napier University, Scotland.

During the conference, participants will also play an interactive game designed by a team led by Kevin Kee, Brock professor and Canada Research Chair in Humanities Computing.

Other session topics include activism in Second Life, adolescents’ identification with video game characters and immersive advertising.


WHO: Dejan Momcilovic, motion capture specialist
WHAT: Keynote speech at Interacting with Immersive Worlds conference
WHERE: Academic South 202
WHEN: Monday, June 13, 4 to 5:30 p.m. (followed by a tour of the nGen motion capture studio at One St. Paul from 6 to 7 p.m.)
For other keynotes and sessions, view the conference program.

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