“That gives you goosebumps” – the VFX perspective on THU with Rise FX’s Florian Gellinger

Florian Gellinger from Rise FX.

It can be hard sometimes to nail down exactly what Trojan Horse was a Unicorn is. Of course, that’s its appeal – it’s an ‘experience,’ as co-founder André Lourenço describes it, for all kinds of creatives in digital illustration, design, concept art, 3D, CG, games, animation…and visual effects.

To that end, visual effects supervisor and Rise FX co-founder Florian Gellinger was one of this year’s Knights at THU. It was his first time attending, and I cornered him for a brief Q&A on the final day for his thoughts – as a ‘VFX person’ – on the week that was.

vfxblog: What did you know about THU before you were invited to come here?

Florian Gellinger: I didn’t know much, but André Lourenço (THU’s co-founder) visited me earlier this year in our Berlin studio, and introduced me to the concept of THU. He is a very passionate speaker, as you know. He’s very convincing. I found out that everyone working more on the matte painting side of things at Rise, knew what THU was. I’d never heard of it before, to be honest.

vfxblog: Why did you decide to come?

Florian Gellinger: Because just the concept of having this gathering of creatives, I wouldn’t say in the middle of nowhere, but yet so detached that everyone can focus on art, talks, and connecting, and meeting other people, is really a nice concept. Andre was very very precise on; If you come you have to come for five days at least, because this is kind of the concept.

THU 2017. Image courtesy Trojan Horse was a Unicorn.

You bump into people. You sit down with them. You see them again, they might have another question. It’s this whole concept of mentors walking around, being available for your every question. Of course, I also looked at the webpage, and their Facebook page, and looked at what they did and looked like something fresh. Especially going down south where it’s warm and you have beaches, is never a bad idea.

vfxblog: What was your talk on?

Florian Gellinger: My talk was on the first 10 years of Rise. I did a brief rundown, a brief two hour rundown, of the work that we did in the first 10 years, and towards the end I also gave people some business advice. I was trying to guide people to not make the same mistakes that we did, also to think a little bit further ahead in terms of health insurance, pension plan, and so on, even if they’re in their mid-20s.

vfxblog: What was your THU experience like?

Florian Gellinger: What I enjoyed most is that everyone here is so open-minded. That everyone, no matter where you’re working, is coming towards you, just says hi, just wants to congratulate you, or ask you for your opinion, opens their sketchbooks and so on. This is something that I haven’t seen anywhere else yet. That nobody is afraid to just approach you, and just start talk or gives you a glass of wine or sangria or whatever, and you basically just start chatting with total strangers about art, about life. It can be very poetic at times, the discussions that you’re having.

vfxblog: Now, it is a conference for lots of different creative people, but would you recommend it for VFX people?

Florian Gellinger: Absolutely. VFX people should be aware that it’s not a VFX-centric event. I think that’s really important. It’s not like the conference where you get to see a lot of before and afters. But that being said, I think the industry itself is so broad in the creative sense. I know that, for example, our matte painters would be loving this. Just because they are the ones also sketching and matte painting, and our animators would be loving this as well. Ed Hooks was giving amazing animation talks, and acting for animators classes this year, every morning. He’s a total genius.

THU attendees gather for a family photo. Image courtesy Trojan Horse was a Unicorn.

There is something for everyone, and why not look beyond what you’re currently doing and get inspired? I’m always encouraging people to learn another software package. Maybe not master it but just get accustomed to it so far that you know what you can do with it, and maybe get a better understanding of what people are doing around you. When you’re seeing the talk by Karla Ortiz, and suddenly you see concept art of Doctor Strange popping up, a movie that we worked on. Suddenly you’re reconnecting with the people that you did have a connection before, and you didn’t even know.

vfxblog: Best moment at THU?

Florian Gellinger: The travel here was pretty cool! Really, it’s just such a strange thing to be picked up at the airport and then going by boat, by ferry over to this island, to this hotel, and suddenly you see this amazing infrastructure, and this huge group of people when we did the family photo. All these people came out here for this one reason. That gives you goosebumps.

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