Next week, key representatives from the 3D graphics community will convene in Monaco for the 2009 Imagina conference. We caught up with Laurent Puons, director general of the event, to find out moreâ?¦

Q&A: Laurent Puons, Imagina

Imagina 2009 is described as a ‘3D community event’. What exactly does that mean?

Imagina is centred on solutions which assist in design and decision making through the use of visualisation and simulation.

This year, Imagina proposes a programme of high-level conferences dedicated to each sector represented, alongside a special cycle of conferences, appearing for the first time, designed to highlight the obvious links between all sectors and their shared goal of 3D creation.

Despite the troubled economic climate, there has been a 30% increase both in the size of the exhibiting areas and in the number of new exhibitors registered for Imagina 2009. Such a positive result supports the strategic choices we made to ensure that Imagina is Europe’s leading event for design solutions and visualisation and simulation-based decision making.

Which kinds of industries are you expecting to provide information for at the event?

Imagina 2009 will be dedicated to Architecture & Urbanism, Landscape & Territory, Industry and Media & Entertainment.

A conference cycle will be dedicated to these different sectors, and an area of the exhibition hall will be reserved for each. In addition, we are pleased to present the SCANeR Village to the industry sector, and the Digital City Village to Landscape & Territory professionals, alongside the very latest 3D design solutions: 3D printers, digital drawing tablets, simulators, modelling tools, workstations, graphics cards, laser scanners, projectors, visualisation solutions and more.

Visitors and delegates include R&D directors, top production executives and post-production studios, architects, town planners, landscape designers, local authority engineers and developers, special effect and animation specialists, designers, SII and software publishers, students and local representatives.

What are some of the highlights of the programme, including key speakers?

The conference programme will highlight the very latest innovations in 3D applications for each sector and will demonstrate how each of these sectors come together in the latest 3D design solutions.

For the first time, Imagina is providing every participant with the opportunity of setting up business meetings to be held during the event through the Networking Tool. Aware of the requirements involved, we are seeking to assist all participants, helping them to build up their contact networks by facilitating the setting up of meetings in advance of the event.

For the second year running, Imagina is offering free access to the 4000m2 exhibition hall in order to enable our guests both to meet the top creators, editors, suppliers and software and hardware distributors on the Exhibition Floor, and to allow you to discover the exhibitors’ latest solutions – during the Workshops – and expand your knowledge – during Master Classes presented by publishers present at Imagina.

Imagina 2009 is further confirming its position as Europe’s leading event for the 3D community with a 30% increase in the number of exhibitors.

As part of the M&E conference cycle, Fraser Bensted, from the Picture Production Company, Christophe Courgeau, matte painter from Mikros Image, Eric Hanson, VFX supervisor from xRez Studio, Hugues Namur, cinema special effects supervisor from Mikros Image, Jean Rabasse, head set designer, Benoit Guerville, from Wide, and Alexis Guery, from Kreaction, will be among the key speakers present.

What does the employment forum offer attendees?

If you are seeking employment in 3D visualisation, Imagina is a unique opportunity to meet – under one roof – the companies recruiting technicians and engineers specialised in the following sectors:

The Motor Industry, Architecture/Urban Planning, Video Gaming, Aeronautics, Electricity/Electronics, Animation, Mechanical Industries, Energy/Engineering, VFX (TV, Advertising, Movies).

If you are recruiting, you can meet qualified, motivated candidates. There were over 200 students at Imagina 2008, covering every area of 3D visualisation. You can recruit the ideal candidate in the best possible conditions and organise your interviews according to your schedule using your personal user name and password. You can add as many job offers as you like and organise your interviews in the special area that has been set aside in the exhibition hall.

What do you see as the goals of Imagina?

We aim to demonstrate that 3D design solutions are no longer the exclusive preserve of M&E. 3D is now accessible to everyone. Sectors such as Architecture and Urbanism have benefited from the progress made by the M&E sector to showcase their projects and make their life easier on a day-to-day basis. Over three days, IMAGINA brings everyone involved in 3D together, enabling them to exchange ideas and share their experiences, discussing and analysing technologies that have become vital decision-making tools, indispensable in the everyday life of all professionals.

What will Imagina 2009 offer those employed in the video game industry?

The video game industry will be very interested in the M&E conference programme.

The main topic will be VFX and Visualisation – movie-making skills for the visualisation industry.

Many VFX blockbusters have been studied in past Imagina conferences. The films have frequently featured sophisticated reconstructions of environments and architectural creations with brilliant realism, whether in actual or imaginary worlds. While the technologies used to create such imagery were at that time state-of-the-art, they have now become accessible to most studios, and are therefore available for much smaller projects.

As part of the VFX and Visualisation seminar, the Visualisation and Storytelling conference, on Thursday afternoon, offers a totally unique programme geared primarily at architects and urban designers, as well as other visualisation professionals interested in significantly increasing their films’ impact.

The aim is to find out how such cooperation could enhance an already high-quality project.

Furthermore, the exhibitors will use the exhibition hall to present the latest digital solutions that they have to offer, and you will be able to attend the workshop and masterclass.

What has been learnt from last year’s event, and how have you used that experience to improve the 2009 show?

When, in 2006, we took the decision to change the direction in which IMAGINA moved, making it much more business-orientated, we implemented a strategy designed to attract new sectors using 3D.

In 2006 and 2007, we developed the architecture and urbanism sector. In 2008, we focused on the automotive industry, and now, in 2009, a high proportion (up to 40%) of our exhibitors are from the industry sectors, a figure we view as a measure of our success.

Urbanism and Architecture remains a very strong sector, with this year’s event seeing the brand new Digital City Village being introduced.

There can be no doubt that today, as a result of the work carried out over the past three years, and its marketing success, Imagina is the leading European event for those working in the 3D industry.

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