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VFX/PDX | The VFX User Group of Portland, OR | Page 5

Big Thanks to Pixar + OMSI


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The requisite shot of the sellout crowd filtering in ahead of the event…

Thanks to Pixar artists Keith Klohn and Michael O’Brien for making the quick trip up from the bay and wowing us with all things Coco.  I’m told this was one of those “landmark” presentations that will keep we Portlanders reeling for months…  years!  So much incredible artwork, characters, and the usual airtight Pixar story that we’ve almost come to expect by this stage – Coco is one to take time out and appreciate.  I was SO glad we could arrange this visit.  Of the many emails I received following the event, one very excited young FX artist exclaimed that “it was so great to see such complex Houdini networks and such intricate animation work on that level.”   Inspiration!

Keith Klohn starts the talk

The Other House shares the Emmys package on the legendary Empirical screen

A big thanks is also due to Chris Roth of The Other House and his associates Michael Miller and Brian Smith for showing off their work on the package for the Emmys Awards show, in all it’s glittery glory.  This was a great project that put part of the brain trust of Portland to work, and it was great to see it detailed.  Thanks to the team for donating the time to the cause!

This event was made possible largely due to sponsorship from SideFX, who’s excellent Houdini software helped create many of the FX you saw within Coco.

Another thank you is due to Melony Beaird of OMSI for covering for me while I was out of town, assisting with arrangements, MC duties and the Q&A.

Last but not least, thanks to YOU for coming out and being a part of the sellout crowd!  I’m told there was not an open seat in the house, and for a theater the size of the Empirical Theater at OMSI, that’s saying something!  The interest, energy, and support present in droves is what makes larger scale events like this possible and we will most definitely do it again.  And soon.  Until next time!

Pixar Presents – The FX of Coco! @OMSI March 8th


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VFX/PDX and OMSI are teaming to bring you a can’t miss night of Reel Science, taking us behind the scenes of Pixar’s Coco.


Michael O’Brien


Keith Klohn

Sponsored by SideFX, Pixar Animation Studios FX Supervisor Michael O’Brien and FX Lead Keith Klohn will be live in-person, navigating us through the challenges met during production. Pixar’s workflow and innovation will be on full display, highlighting their FX setups and the power of SideFX Houdini in their toolset. These are behind the scenes “dvd extras” and untold stories from the trenches that you’ll never see anywhere else! We are lucky to have Michael and Keith take the time out from other projects and a busy awards season.

Speaking of awards, we’ll open this event with a few words from local design shop The Other House, detailing their tasty FX work completed for this year’s Emmys award show. Always good to have some local flavor involved and beautiful imagery created for the Emmys should set the stage for Pixar well!  Chris Roth will be on hand to discuss design + concept, joined by collaborators Michael Miller (Compositing) and Brian Smith (3D).

A screening of Coco will follow the presentation. This event is open to all ages, so feel free to bring your future 3D artist and filmmaker children!

Thanks again to sponsors SideFX, OMSI, Sprocketship, 3DV, The Other House, 9iFX, and Minimal Massive.


Don’t miss this truly unique chance to catch some of the Coco team right here in Portland. Thursday, March 8 (doors at 6pm) at OMSI’s Empirical Theater.  Just $7 for non-members.  Get your tickets now, here!

Save Movie Madness


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A real, true movie fan knows – there is more to life than streaming.  It’s bad enough that our local video shops are dropping (correction: have dropped) like flies and that we are now left to scavenge the frozen tundra and pillage across land and sea to rent that hard to find classic for the weekend.  It’s a fight, these days, to live the impulsive rush of an under-the-radar staff recommended diamond in the rough on blu-ray, in all of it’s pristine “oh yeah, wow, nothing beats putting it directly in the blu-ray player and I forgot how much better that looks” glory.  Video stores (+music stores, for that matter…  and run-on sentences while we’re at it) still should have a place in society and our hearts, even if the alternatives are more convenient.

“Hard to find video!” Yet extremely easy to find reflections (where’s the lens polarizer when you need it…)

It’s hard to tell if the bloodletting is over or if more closures are coming.  I remember with crystal clarity when powerhouses Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were seemingly first to go, and closed years ago.  Still, to this day, nothing has filled the old Blockbuster space in my local neighborhood of St Johns, and it remains a hallowed shell of what once was.  Slowly but surely, most others followed.  Actually the one that really got me was when the sole survivor was the St Johns’ Videorama location…  what with the whole “get a movie after working out at our gym” business model that offered a glimmer of hope and always seemed to have partakers perusing the aisles.  Nope!  Eventually the corner of the space occupied by the video store was repossessed in favor of more treadmills and ellipticals.  Our closest video store then fell to the the 5-6 mile away mark – the Videorama further down on Lombard (near Interstate), which in turn shuttered less than a year later.  Literally dropping like flies.  I don’t even know where my current “regional” (is that what we’re left to call them?) video store is right now – I think a few neighborhoods over in Alberta but that may have gone out, as well.  I honestly gave up.

We’re all in the same boat unless you’re the 1% who happen to live down the street from one of the few/far between survivors and can actually lay claim to a current neighborhood video store.  But throughout, one light has remained in this cavernous valley of darkness:  Movie Madness.  Part video store, part museum, 100% gold.

As with any video store worth it’s weight – you want it, they got it.  Shelves from floor to ceiling filled with all the good stuff, and most importantly sorted by how you choose a video.  Not just alphabetical – collected. Curated.  By actor, by director…    and surrounded by a collection of movie artifacts from days of old.  I have heard legend of what the Criterion Collection closet looks like and how it’s organized, and my guess our Mecca of Movie Madness is as close as I’ll ever come.

But, I’m not telling any of you anything you didn’t know already. The fact is – if you’re a fan of film in PDX…   you’ve been there.

The march of time has led owner Mike Clark to consider options heading into retirement.  The best path forward, by far, would see control of the store handed over to the brain trust at the Hollywood Theatre and assimilated into their unique non-profit structure.  “Unique” as in a movie theater that operates for the greater good.  And now adding a like-minded video store?  It’s almost too perfect.

Non-profit status should allow things to be properly enshrined, and provide some interesting cross pollination with the rest of the Hollywood Theatre portfolio.  In ways we haven’t fully realized.  If we could only get a glimpse of what the future holds in an upcoming Rick & Morty episode, I’m sure we will all be pleased and bathe in the proverbial Szechuan sauce that this non-profit partnership will provide.  Dare I say, this idea might actually take something that was already amazing by any measure…    and make it better.

If this doesn’t happen, I shudder to think of another owner being able to keep this delicate treasure above water.

I can’t imagine a Portland without Movie Madness, so let’s rally around what Mike and the Hollywood Theatre are trying to do – head on over to the kickstarter page now and pledge your support for the future of the best video store on the planet*.

*to my knowledge.


Update:  Movie Madness  – saved!  Now comes the real fun and the adding of stretch goals.  Stay tuned.

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