Annual Design Week Animation Challenge + Demo Reel Review – DRAEMS @ Ziba 4/24


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Spring is in the air, and it means it’s almost that time again!  Our annual Design Week blowout is live, and the ticket link now active.

This year’s animation challenge is yet another brainchild of Jamal Qutub – DRAEMS.   Take a closer look, think of our favorite motion design tool After Effects and I’m sure you’ll make the draemy connection.  Details on the theme or to get signed up as a participant are over at

This year’s demo reel review promises to be our best yet and there’s no better time to polish up your reel and enter it to be reviewed by our expert panel of judges, not only for golden feedback but also great prizes.

This year’s judges include (in no particular order):
Saira and Nicholas Weigel, power couple extraordinaire.  She the Head of Motion at W+K and he a Creative Director primarily at his company !hatKe!
Joel Stewart, Creative Director at his own Foil
Daniel Short, Compositor at large and reigning champion of last year’s Reel Review VFX category
Michael Miller, Owner/Operator/VFX Supervisor at 9iFX

This year’s MC is Motion Designer Jarrod Allen.

Prizes include:
VFX – a license of Blackmagic Design Fusion Studio + a copy of Neat Video’s denoise plugin (a must have!)
3D – a 1 year license of  SideFX Houdini Indie 16
Motion – a license of Red Giant Magic Bullet Suite
All category winners receive a 3 month subscription to Lynda/LinkedIn Learning.
1 Audience winner, voted live, will receive a 1 year subscription.
…and more to come!

To enter the demo reel review, submit your information here.  Please, only fresh reels from the last year.

This year’s reel review will be kept on a strict program schedule so we can’t guarantee all reels will be screened or commented on, but we guarantee a silent email of judge feedback on any/all reels submitted.  You must be PDX-metro based to enter.  You do not need to be present to win.

VFX/PDX + AEPDX + 3DPDX present
Animation Challenge (DRAEMS) + Reel Review 2017
Ziba Design (Auditorium)
810 NW Marshall St
Portland, OR 97209
April 24, 2017  – 6:30/doors to 9:30pm

Get your tickets now before this sells out!

Sponsored by  / Ziba / Toolfarm / Adobe / 3DV
Side FX / Blackmagic Design / Neat Video / Red Giant
(poster design by Jamal Qutub)

A Very Grimm Happy Hour (Job Mixer!) 3/20 @ CENTRL


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Monday, March 20th from 5-7pm
, at co-working space CENTRL (Eastside), VFX/PDX is hosting a VFX+CG job fair done up Portland style – with the following companies and studios in attendance:

Please, only turn into a Blutbad AFTER your interviews.

W+K Motion
Hinge Digital
Deep Sky
Juliet Zulu
Cinco Design
Bent Image Lab
…and more TBA


The setup is simple – upstairs:  interviews.  Individual, private meetings with the above.
-networking over snacks/drinks (graciously provided by CENTRL + World Foods)
-shop talk and advice/resources on returning to freelancing by nuevo staffing platform Scopic
-tours of the CENTRL space for anyone interested in co-working opportunities and what that sort of setup might entail.  CENTRL is offering a free week of co-working time for anyone interested.

For interview purposes, please fill out the form below now to register your interest and add your info to the database shared with the companies in attendance.  Please note – although Grimm was the catalyst for this event, it is open to all and all levels are encouraged to submit their info – from Lead/Supervisor down to students nearing graduation.  In addition to Compositors, CG artists and the like – Producers, Production Coordinators, Editors, IT, support staff are also encouraged.  Note: if your browser hates this embedded form, go to it directly at this link.

If selected for an interview, the user group staff here will be in touch shortly to help coordinate your interview times between the companies who show interest.

I look forward to you all taking advantage of this rare opportunity, and at the very least let’s all step out and raise a glass to keeping this energy and momentum going!  Keep the dream alive, as they say.

Again, the pertinent details:

“A Very Grimm Happy Hour” (aka:  a Portland style VFX+CG job fair)
Monday March 20, 5-7pm
CENTRL Eastside
329 NE MLK, Portland, OR 97232
Note: that’s essentially between 3rd Ave & MLK at NE Couch
Inside The Slate Building (around the corner from Cosube)

Parking:  Street spots start to clear up around then, or consider the Eastside Exchange building (home of the Oregon Film office) across the street to the west, who’s parking lot has recently been minted with parking meters.  Not free but convenient!

If you’ve not signed up for the VFX/PDX email list, please do so now as there will be last minute updates on this event.

If you are a company that would like to participate, please get in touch.

[Full disclosure:  in addition to running the user group, I also own/operate Sprocketship and will be actively recruiting.]

Enter The Matrix with Isaac Cohen – May 10 @ OMSI


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Step into our dojo!  VFX/PDX and OMSI present a night of VR/AR, Portland style.  Featuring a presentation from VR champion Isaac Cohen, up from SF and fresh off of his appearance at the A MAZE fest in Berlin.  Experimental and emotion-driven would be the best description of Cohen’s varied work, and he’ll be giving his headlining presentation around 6:30pm.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also take a true snapshot of the Portland VR scene and catch up on the latest offerings from our best and brightest, with VR/AR demos from 5:30pm featuring:
Hinge Digital
360 Labs
Giant Astronaut
Oregon Story Board

All of this built around a Reel Science screening of The Matrix (after the presentation, starting around 7:45pm).  A great excuse to revisit this classic on the Empirical Theater screen!

Needless to say this is all shaping up to be an epic night, so tickets are moving fast.  Mark your calendars and take the red pill with us on May 10. (always wanted to say that)

Again, the schedule starts with demos with Portland VR/AR companies and studios at 5:30pm in the lobby.  Isaac Cohen presents from 6:30-7:45 in the theater.  The Matrix screening from 7:45 to 10pm.  Dinner?  Food is overrated and there’s too much VR to consume.  (kidding – OMSI’s snack bar will be open if you can’t eat ahead of time!)

Tickets and more info over at this OMSI page.

Reel Science featuring Portland VR, Isaac Cohen, and The Matrix.
OMSI Empirical Theater
Wednesday May 10
1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Grimm Fades to Black


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All good things come to an end, and today was Grimm’s day.

It was a good run. Time to raise a well deserved glass.

Four score (er, well, 6 years) and precisely 123 episodes ago, Portland got it’s shot.  Rather than take the easy out and ship the work off to our neighbors to the North (BC) or South (CA) as so many have done, the forward thinking Producers of the NBC/Universal show Grimm did something unique.  They looked at our raw ingredients here in Portland, and saw a spark.

Coordinated through the office of Oregon Film and masterminded by then-Executive Director, Vince Porter, the team behind Grimm agreed to a “Pepsi Challenge” of sorts.  Several prospective companies, near and far, submitted Grimm like transformation (Woge) pitches done without logos or branding of any kind.  Portland went up against more established vendors in larger VFX markets.

The taste test proved without a doubt that the Portland shops were ready.  Hungry.  And that solid VFX work could be done right here, alongside production, at a stone’s throw away.

And work we did.  Grimm was the gift that kept on giving, and as they teed up challenge after challenge, you all rose to the occasion and proved time and time again that you have what it takes to knock it out of the park.   Finally- a show not afraid of (but that actually embraced, and designed for) our clouds and rain!  Ha.  And VFX heavy, too?  Amazing.  It’s the role Portland was born to play!  Ripples of the creatures, characters, and shots of all types continue to permeate and pervade the demo reels of the shops and artists involved, and it’s been a source Portland pride to say the least.  Dare I say it’s given us an identity.

But yes…  all good things come to an end.  By my (unofficial) estimate, about 40 CG/VFX/Post Production artists between the two Portland vendors on the show are being “rolled off.”  Does this compare to, for example, a recent Intel layoff of 800?  That day when a key account broke ties with W+K, an account that had employed 400+ on it’s own?  Perhaps not in raw numbers, but certainly in spirit – consider another unofficial estimate:  1/3 of Portland’s working, studio based artists primarily doing VFX are now out of a job.  I don’t care if you’re a glass half full or half empty type:  that stat is Hexenbiest scary on several levels.

In many ways, forming this user group was a response to the momentum Grimm brought to the table as we elevated above being labeled a “one shop town” in the press and industry circles.  And it’s been great to show off each other’s work, talk shop over a beer/coffee/what have you, and mix it up occasionally.  But – for better or for worse, as they say…   just as we did when this thing started – right now we need to step up, pull together as a community, and take action.

We’re organizing a night of networking and interviews with local companies and studios on the rise, that can put your skills and experience to work.  Take advantage.  Details here.

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