Looking back at Infinity Festival - Silicon Beach May 2023May 23, 2023
The Infinity Festival Silicon Beach event was an exclusive event hosted by Google Cloud, Z by HP, and Intel Corporation. It was relatively small but laser focused on the latest technology and leadership challenges as we head into a new age of storytelling.
Walking into the tall wooden Google building in Venice there was a sense of grandeur. Fruit and coffee greeted the participants at the entrance, and breakfast was nicely laid out. People were standing together, meeting old friends and networking. At the far end was the Blue Vishnu camera setup, where people could get a 3d model of themselves made and have that model placed into an action-packed scene.
As to the panels for Day 1, some of the technology that was discussed was the impact of the cloud on workflows in virtual production and visual effects. One important conversation around artist life/work balance posited that the hybrid solution for people working partially from home and partially coming back to the workspace has major mental health benefits for artists, with the workplace unlikely to return to how it had been before the pandemic. For now, doing everything in the cloud is prohibitively expensive, but we may see changes over time in the future. Most companies in the space have developed hybrid solutions, mixing local computer power with online rendering. Amplifying these shifts, the heads of several prominent LA stages got together to talk about how new innovation virtual production workflows were impacting their work on a daily basis.
On Day 2, differences between Bard and Chat GPT were highlighted. Speakers pointed out that Bard is real-time and meant for Enterprise Applications because it focuses a great deal on higher level security. Chat GPT is aimed at commercial end users with many companies building their AI apps on that platform.
The focus of a fantastic AI panel was on the value it gives to creators and their workflows, rather than any sort of replacement for humans. Wonder Dynamics shared how using their tool was meant to help the animation process and that the end product could be exported into products such as Unreal Engine and Blender for touch ups. This potentially saves time in the previsualization and tracking phases.
Some of the uses of AI that were pointed out were Climate Action model solutions, making the process interactive and participatory. Another positive use of AI would be in the healthcare field, getting professionals through certain mundane activities and freeing doctors up to help more people. AI will certainly create new industries, and help us "appreciate each other more once we understand what it means to be human."
Finally the Infinity Festival Monolith Awards were handed out to some true innovators in the realm of VFX and virtual production. It was exciting to see and recognize these accomplishments and they were of course very well deserved. A few of the winners were Paul Debevec for his work on LED wall lighting, Snapdragon Spaces by Qualcomm, and Moonray the Render Engine from Dreamworks.
Infinity did mention that they are going to be hosting events more than once a year because the technology and conversations are changing so quickly. It is a conference meant to engage and create the tech for a "South by Southwest feel" but in Los Angeles. The conversations on leadership and sharing of knowledge between companies were amazingly good.