AEAF is a celebration of VFX and Animation with a speaker program and awards evening. AEAF took place on 30 August, in Paddington, Sydney. Following a packed day of talks from the leading lights of the VFX industry, the AEAF Awards Night is a celebration of the best work by digital artists artists from around the world.

AEAF 2018 Speaker Program 30 August

AEAF Awards reception from 6.00pm, Screening 7.30pm
4:45 pm Weta Digital - VFX Supervisor Matt Aitkin - Avengers: Infinity War
4:00 pm  Rodeo FX - VP Development & Technology  Jordan Soles - Game of Thrones Season 7
3:15 pm Rising Sun Pictures - VFX Supervisor Tom Wood - 'Thor: Ragnarok'
2:30 pm Animal Logic - Animation Supervisor Simon Pickard - Peter Rabbit
1:45 pm  Ample Projects - Artist/Directors Nicholas Tory and Lucy Keeler - VIVID Sydney
12:30 pm Cutting Edge - VFX Supervisor Simon Maddison - The Electric Lens Company - Founder Matthew Hermans
11:45 am Passion Pictures - Executive Producers - Sophie Woods and Kate Goodwin
11:00 am Framestore - Lara Hopkins - Talent Management - Careers in VFX and Animation
10:30 am Google Cloud - Bjorn Leffler - Senior Cloud Engineer, Office of the CTOs

click read more for full details of all the talks

 Weta Digital - Matt Aitkin - VFX Supervisor - Avengers: Infinity War

Matt will present the wide variety of cutting-edge VFX techniques his team used on 'Avengers: Infinity War' including animation for Thanos and bespoke FX for Titan.

Matt Aitkin

Weta Digital created the entire Titan battle in the third act - an incredibly VFX heavy sequence featuring extensive FX simulation techniques. Matt Aitkin will reveal how Weta created a compelling performance for Thanos, built Planet Titan from the ground up, and simulated the many bespoke FX used to manifest the heroes’ spirited defence.

Matt has worked as VFX Supervisor on some of the biggest films of the past two decades, including 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, 'Avatar' and most recently 'Avengers: Infinity War'.

As a Visual Effects Supervisor, Matt has worked on some of the biggest films of the past two decades, including 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, 'Avatar and most recently 'Avengers: Infinity War'. He has been at Weta since the early days, joining around the time of Peter Jackson’s 'Heavenly Creatures' before the company was even officially formed.

Matt was Digital Models Supervisor on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, pre-production/R&D supervisor for 'King Kong' and CG Supervisor for 'Avatar'. His credits as a Visual Effects Supervisor includes 'The Adventures of Tintin', Peter Jackson’s 'King Kong' 360 3D attraction at Universal Studios, 'The Lovely Bones', 'District 9', 'Iron Man 3', 'The Hobbit' trilogy, and 'Independence Day: Resurgence'. He recently finished supervising Weta Digital's work on 'Avengers: Infinity War'.

He is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences where he was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Visual Effects on 'District 9' and has won multiple Visual Effects Society awards.

4:00 pm  Rodeo FX - Jordan Soles - VP Development & Technology

Creative problem-solving at Rodeo FX  and the team's expanding use of the cloud, from their first season of Game of Thrones in 2014 to the most recent season 7.

Jordan Soles RodeoFX

Jordan will talk about the company's work at the forefront of cloud usage in the visual effects industry. Rodeo FX began cloud rendering with its initial work on 'Game of Thrones' in 2014. By final delivery on the series' most recent Season 7, their team had found more key applications for the cloud.

The studio was also among the first VFX studios to use hybrid cloud rendering as a tool, and continues to explore new ways to make the most of its capabilities. In his talk, Jordan will examine how they have used the cloud to backup data, as a safety measure, and to share data. Serving as a virtual studio, the cloud lets Rodeo FX easily share data with its teams around the world and with outsourcing partners, resulting in longer production hours and a positive impact on user experience.

Jordan Soles works in business development and oversees all technological aspects of the company, from IT infrastructure to software and pipeline design, to production management. With a degree in AI and Cognitive Science from University of Toronto, Jordan takes both a creative and a systematic approach to problem-solving. While leading Rodeo's team of engineers and developers, he also works alongside their VFX Producers and Supervisors.

3:15 pm  Rising Sun Pictures - Tom Wood - VFX Supervisor - Thor: Ragnarok

Tom Wood will share experiences and insights into his most recent work leading RSP's team in creature, environment and FX work for 'Thor: Ragnarok'.

Tom wood RSP 2018a

Most recently at RSP, Tom has led the team as Visual Effects Supervisor to deliver an extensive package of creature, environment and effects work for 'Thor: Ragnarok'.

Visual effects supervisor Tom Wood from Rising Sun Pictures in Adelaide, South Australia, is coming to speak at AEAF. Originally from England, Tom has an extensive career spanning three decades in leadership roles in the visual effects industry. He started his career at Cinesite in London working on such feature films as 'Event Horizon' in 1997 and 'Lost in Space', 1998. Progressing to the role of VFX supervisor at MPC, he worked for several years on movies including 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' in 2002, Kingdom of Heaven 2005 and Sunshine in 2007.   

 Tom later worked as independent VFX supervisor on 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time', released in 2010, and 'Mirror Mirror'. He relocated to Australia in 2012 to lead the visual effects teams on 'Mad Max: Fury Road' with Iloura. For his work on that project, he was nominated in 2015 for an Academy Awards in the Best Visual Effects category.

2:30 pm  Animal Logic - Simon Pickard - Animation Supervisor - Peter Rabbit

Simon will explain the processes of working with the Animal Logic team on 'Peter Rabbit', intimately understanding each character's motion while keeping to a tight schedule.

Simon Pickard AnimalLogic

 Animal Logic’s Animation Supervisor Simon Pickard will talk at AEAF about their most recent project, the hybrid/animation feature film 'Peter Rabbit'. Apart from nailing the animation and character FX of a cast of CG bunnies and creatures, one of the key aspects of this production was working through the challenges of CG character development with the director Will Gluck. Simon will talk about this and other hurdles the Animal Logic team encountered, as well as how they met each challenge to produce characters that are engaging and feel incredibly real.

Animal logic peter rabbit11

 Much of the challenge lay in establishing confidence - the team needed to feel they had locked an animation style for the cast that they could confidently carry through to delivery, and the director needed confidence that the team could make his vision come to life on screen. “One of our first tasks for the production was creating that perfect shot to show Will that we had hit the mark,” said Simon.

An important part of Simon's role as supervisor was efficiency and time management. At AEAF he will describe how he kept Animal Logic's artists moving forward as a team, working to a tight time frame and the production's emphasis on extreme realism. He said, “We got to know the characters very well and often wanted to linger over certain looks, effects and behaviour – but the pressure was on to meet our deadlines!”

Simon Pickard has over 15 years of experience in the animation industry and has worked  at a variety of studios in Australia and the UK. Since joining Animal Logic in 2005, Simon has worked on a range of  projects in different roles. He was a Lead Character Animator and Lead Animator on the Oscar Award winning film, 'Happy Feet' and the Lead Animator on 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole' and 'Walking with Dinosaurs 3D'. Most recently, Simon led a team of over 75 animators as Animation Supervisor on 'Peter Rabbit'. Prior to this, Simon was the Animation Director at Flying Bark for the animated feature 'Maya the Bee'. Other credits include 'The Golden Compass', 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' and 'Happy Feet 2'.

1:45 pm  Ample Projects -  Nicholas Tory and Lucy Keeler - Artists -Directors

Nicholas and Lucy will talk about creating and directing their brilliant environmental artworks, animations and installations that bring locations to life, including their award winning creations for VIVID Sydney.

Ample nicholas tory lucy keeler1

Artists Nicholas Tory and Lucy Keeler at Ample Projects will talk about creating and directing their brilliant environmental artworks, animations and installations that bring locations to life incluf. The team at Ample combine traditional artistic methods with new and old technology, to create public artworks that people can relate and respond to.

Their work appears each year at VIVID Sydney and is featured at many other venues. They will show attendees their processes and approaches to building their beautiful, evocative projects from the ground up, and the tools used at different stages. They will also share sources of inspiration and reference for their graphics and animation.

Nicholas Tory is an award-winning artist, artistic director, designer and project director, and a co-founder of Ample Projects. He graduated from Sydney College of the Arts’ Electronic and Temporal Arts studio, and specialises in site-specific collaborative art projects including sculptures, installation, light-based art and animated films. To develop his varied, multi-disciplinary practise and style, he collaborates with artists, technicians, engineers, animators and designers.

After spending the past 20 years working with artistic production teams on a diverse range of impressive projects, Nick's projects are his response to life in the modern world, and explore themes relevant both to the experience of urban environments, and to a desire to be closer to nature. They also reveal the fragility and complexity of all life on our planet, human mythology and the roles that technology play in our lives and world.

Through collaboration with other artists in various disciplines, Nick’s work uses light, spatial and object design, electronic engineering, interactive design, sound, projection, animation, film making and traditional techniques like drawing and painting. Nicholas hopes to produce though-provoking work that makes our experience of the world better.

Ample snuggle

Lucy Keeler has developed her work and style as an artist over 15 years, supported by a multi-disciplinary studio devoted to painting, sculpture, virtual art, projection and theatre design. Based on her love of traditional art mediums and 2D animated filmmaking, her projects bridge traditional and technological art forms.

Lucy is a founder and co-director at Ample Projects, developing large-scale art projects in Australia and overseas, including video and installation art, sculptural works, projection mapping and animatronic sculpture. Over the past several years, she has designed and directed numerous projects from the ground up, securing funding and bringing together sculptors, painters, video artists, animators, lighting programmers and designers, interactive developers, composers and musicians to develop public artwork.

Lucy’s individual art practice is focused on hand animated oil painting. She is currently completing postgraduate studies (Master of Fine Art, Painting) at Australia’s National Art School in Sydney, and previously undertook two residencies in Italy followed by a solo show, and has won several awards as a painter.


1:15 pm Networking Break - Light lunch provided

12:30 pm  Cutting Edge - VFX Supervisor Simon Maddison / The Electric Lens Company - Founder Matthew Hermans

VR Experience Q-Ride

Simon and Matthew will talk about developing and creating the submarine 360° environment for the VR experience Q-Ride Experience , with action and detail to watch in all directions.

SimonMaddison w

Cutting Edge delivered a virtual reality theme park ride late last year titled ‘Q-Ride’ for attractions developer Brogent Technologies. The ride debuted at the IAAPA Attractions Expo held in Florida in November. Cutting Edge’s team, led by Simon Maddison who served as both project VFX Supervisor and Director, created an experience that uses VR to take participants on a spectacular, breathtaking underwater journey. Simon will give a talk about developing and creating Q-Ride at AEAF in August, together with collaborator Matthew Hermans from The Electric Lens Company.

Cutting edge Q ride simon maddisona

Q-Ride's dreamy submarine environment, with action and detail to watch in all directions, is an ideal match for such a ride experience. Simon said, “Our client knew they wanted to give the audience the chance to explore an underwater landscape. We scripted a journey that transports people to an immersive seascape, rich with marine life, where they float through a world surrounded by rays, schools of fish, dolphins and whales.”

Q-Ride gives viewers a 360° view, but is unusual in that each person has a unique POV depending on where he or she is seated. The movement of the seats is synched with the vision to increase the realism further – the ride controls the motion and viewers are free to choose where they look as they move up close to realistic marine life and other elements. Because the team took special care to link the motion to vision, the ride counteracts motion sickness and allows participants more freedom to turn and look about inside the experience.

Cutting edge Q ride simon maddison2a

Joining Simon will be Matthew Hermans from The Electric Lens Company, who collaborated with Cutting Edge on the ride's 4K, 360° stereoscopic immersive film, used as the content for the Q-ride. “We'll be talking about the approach to storytelling needed for such a particular application, a lot about the technological processes we employed, as well as the sound design and final mix,” said Simon. “It's a real case study taking people through all the hurdles we faced, what we discovered along the way and the final result.

The Electric Lens Company is a group of artists, directors and technicians creating virtual experiences for different platforms. The members range from commercial directors and VFX supervisors to fine artists and game designers, dedicated to storytelling through their work for major studios and brands over the last 20 years.

Simon Maddison is one of Australia’s most experienced and sought-after VFX Supervisors. He was a founder and for 13 years a co-owner of FuelVFX. Through hard work, a driving passion for amazing visuals, and anuncompromising dedication to quality, Simon has built an unparalleledreputation in the industry which he now brings to Cutting Edge.With over 15 years experience as a VFX Supervisor across television,commercials, and feature films, Simon entrenched his own reputation fordelivering groundbreaking photo-realistic character and FX animation.Simon has a body of work that stretches across both TVC and film.He has a reputation for delivering ground- breaking photorealistic CG work,including some of the best CG character work in Australia for feature films(Cowboys and Aliens, Charlotte’s Web and Marvel’s Avengers) and TVCs(Bankwest Squirrel, Wrigley’s Extra Active, V Energy Grasshoppers, NikeFreeknit, Sony Robots, V Tortoise and Bank of New Zealand Pigs).

11:45 am Passion Pictures - Executive Producers Sophie Woods and Kate Goodwin

Kate and Sophie  will talk about working behind the scenes on their team's extremely creative 2D and 3D animated stories including the award winning 'Joy Story'.


Pasion Pictures Speakers

Kate Goodwin and Sophie Woods

Passion Melbourne’s Executive Producer Kate Goodwin, and Senior Producer/Director’s Representative Sophie Woods will speak at AEAF about what happens behind the scenes to bring together their team's extremely creative, beautiful and emotive 2D and 3D animated stories for brands, TV and films. Among other projects, Kate and Sophie will focus on the production of the recent short film called 'Joy', made for China's online retailer

Passion pix joy


Kate's first leap into animation production was at Cirkus in Auckland, after starting out in news and current affairs. In 2014, she joined Passion Pictures' UK headquarters, serving as animation and new business producer until 2017, and is now Executive Producer in the Melbourne office. Having worked with clients such as Nike, Barclays and on the documentary 'Listen To Me Marlon', she has an in-depth understanding of the animation process and extensive knowledge of Passion Pictures' artists

Sophie is a producer with a background in commercials, TV, film, animation, radio, post production and talent management. She has experience working at a number of diverse Australian production companies, across animation, post production and live action. From Crayon & XYZ Studios to The OTTO Empire, Sophie has honed her skills across various mediums in order to skilfully represent Passion Pictures’ directors in the APAC region

Passion Pictures
Established in 1987, Passion Pictures has won multiple Oscars, BAFTAs, Emmy’s and advertising awards for its feature films, TV and commercial content. They are an independent production company based in London, Barcelona, Paris, New York and Melbourne.

They have built a reputation for producing ground-breaking feature films, music videos, documentaries, commercials and live events worldwide and continue to deliver the highest production values possible across infinite mediums. They have worked with some of the world’s most influential and leading brands, delivering unique, exciting and often awe-inspiring projects.

11:00 am Framestore - Lara Hopkins - Talent Management - Careers in VFX and Animation

Lara will talk about careers in the VFX and animation industry more generally, covering both entering the industry as a junior as well as moving through the levels as a mature artist. She will also give an overview of Framestore today, including their latest work and upcoming projects.

Framestore Lara Hopkins1

Lara is a  Talent Management consultant at Framestore providing head-hunting and talent management advice to all of Framestore's global offices. Lara has worked in animation and VFX film production for more than 20 years in Australia, Hong Kong, London and New York.  

Through the years and scope of her experience, she can share insights into working in the global industry, where there is most opportunity to advance your career as well as some logistical considerations such as visas and relocation.

Her career began in Adelaide working in traditional animation production at Adelaide
animation company Anifex before moving to Sydney to produce VFX and animation projects at Animal Logic. She later moved to Hong Kong, joining Saatchi & Saatchi as a producer, and then to Framestore in London, where she returned to producing animation and VFX. After three years as a Senior Producer in their commercials division, Lara moved to an artist management role in Framestore's film division, managing more than 150 CG and 2D artists.

In 2006, she moved back to Australia to become the Studio Manager at Rising Sun Pictures’ Sydney office, then joined Dr D Studio to lead the recruitment of more than 1,000 artists for the film 'Happy Feet 2'.

In 2012 Lara relocated to New York to work for Framestore again, crewing an artist and production team for the film division in NY. In her two years in New York Lara also worked on Framestore's global expansion, with offices opening in Los Angeles, Montreal and Chicago. She now lives in Sydney.

10:30 am  Google Cloud - Bjorn Leffler - Senior Cloud Engineer, Office of the CTO

Next generation cloud technologies for Movie Studios
Bjorn Leffler

Bjorn is a Senior Cloud Engineer in the Cloud Office of the CTO at Google, specializing in storage systems, high performance workloads and large scale deployments. He works with cloud customers from a variety of industries, making sure their infrastructure is scalable, high performance and cost efficient.

Prior to Google, Bjorn worked seven years in the movie industry at Pixar and Animal Logic, supporting the production of award winning animated movies and visual effects. Favourite credits include ‘Cars’, ‘Ratatouille’, ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Up’. At Pixar, Bjorn worked on rendering optimisation and the in-house software used to on feature film projects. He also built the storage and asset management system that Pixar uses today. At Animal Logic, Bjorn rewrote the scheduling software used to coordinate thousands of concurrent batch jobs on the local render farm.

10:00 am Meet and Greet  Complimentary Coffee and muffins

Book Tickets