CII SummitFX 2020 gains momentum – Global industry comes together to chalk recovery – Biren Ghose says “Foresight is 2020”

In a first for this year, the entire ecosystem is about to witness the starry congregation of AVGC experts from around the world. While the pandemic has brought the world to a grinding halt, this virtual gathering is being touted as the impetus the industry needs right now.

We spoke to Vice Chairman – CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Country Head for Technicolor India, Biren Ghose, who is also one of the major driving force behind this event, to get an idea about the virtual gathering.

Here are the excerpts:

What is CII SummitFX 2020?

SummitFX is a virtual congregation of the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics [AVGC] industry. The suffix ‘FX’ in the SummitFX represents FX as an intrinsic ingredient in the AVGC sector and emphasizes upon the significance of computer-generated imagery (CGI), which has given the audio-visual trade a massive fillip, thereby allowing technology to perform more convincingly and with greater safety, which was attained by mechanical effects during the erstwhile decades.

Several events are being held worldwide in each of these AVGC sectors; however, digital creative arts and technology coming together to ideate, celebrate and transform the new media intersections between creativity and technology are out of the ordinary. 

Why has CII taken this initiative?

CII’s Media and Entertainment committee for 2020-21 is a cluster of the veritable who’s who across all disciplines. As the Vice-Chairman of the committee, I have been tasked with working along with my industry colleagues, as a means to prepare an agenda for SummitFX and to bring the right people on this platform, who can put forth solutions needed in today’s challenging times. This is also being positioned as a flagship global event, which will find its place among the premier events on the AVGC industry’s global calendar.

Taking cognizance of the present circumstances, SummitFX 2020 will explore the key opportunities and challenges in this sector and identify the silver linings, which can be realized through co-operation and collaboration. The CII committee, their teams, and its membership provide the impetus for just the kind of iteration and illumination required in 2020. It’s my belief and I have coined a new phrase which is “foresight is 2020”.

Why virtual conferences now and why not wait for a time when a live event can bring everyone together in a more meaningful manner?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been debilitating for all segments of film and television production and affects any content creation that requires live-action shoots. Outdoor shooting is still limping back to work, both in the western world as well as in India. This is because by definition it is dependent on an army of technicians and talent to serve as “crew” on the sets. This has caused severe stress to small, medium and large companies alike.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for the leaders in this sector to put their heads together – stakeholders from government to supply chain vendors; technology solution providers to infrastructure partners, to come up with new ways to engage, retain and motivate talent which forms the backbone of this business.

That seems like an urgent need but can the virtual world capture the face-to-face impact needed for events of this magnitude and importance?

This virtual event has been made possible owing to CII already having a robust platform [CII HIVE], which is a cloud-based virtual platform that has an unlimited capacity for large conference halls, small meeting rooms, one-to-one meeting booths, well-designed exhibition spaces [with many different décor templates that clients can customize as exhibitors], a library, press room and more with seamless streaming to several concurrent users in a technology that will create the best possible interface given today’s time constraints.

The world is already becoming more adept at online engagement and the CII team is committed to trying to make this virtual event an interactive “marketplace”. SummitFX will continue in future times to be more ‘Phygital’ – a live + virtual platform.

What are the highlights one can expect from SummitFX 2020?

This meeting will do myriads of things like – 

A> It will give industry the ability to consult with many stakeholders within the Indian Government, both at the Central and State level. Despite the Government’s constraints in providing a fiscal stimulus, it would still be a great opportunity for the participants to act as catalysts for the collective interest of the country. 

B>There are amazing new CG driven technology innovations that provide a unique opportunity to come to the rescue of the present difficulties of live-action shoots. Given the strictures and protocols to be adhered to mitigate the current situation, getting several people to work together in proximity will continue being a challenge, thereby affecting live-action production. It is imperative to draw forth new technologies from world leaders that enable virtual production, which in turn will help to fill the vacuum for content production and also meet the growing need for content. SummitFX will present this disruptive emerging methodology.

There has also been a tremendous upswing in the demand for interactive technologies. Game engine technology is seeing a massive growth during the COVID-19 crisis. Stalwarts like Unreal and Unity are two companies that have global experience in innovating and rolling out these technologies. We intend to feature and showcase examples from these inspirational ‘lighthouse’ giants and their clients/partner companies that have worked to prove the concept in the recent past.

C>We gather that the new ways of working and the new tools that one must work with will require a major overhaul in the skilling for the AVGC industry. We are presenting some of the global and local majors to share their thoughts and articulate their vision of how they are progressing to work with the ecosystem & reimagine the future of jobs and, therefore, the appropriate training, development and upskilling initiatives that the AVGC and those they service would require.

D>We are working on together with a major global consultant that is going to create an industry snapshot of what the Media & Entertainment industry can hope to forward to as a medium-term outlook across the sectors. This forward-looking report and analysis will be presented at the conference.

Wow, that’s quite a lot and must have taken several months to plan?

Should I be embarrassed by telling you that we are trying to pull off this huge event in less than two months! It’s leveraging the power of the network. However, yes it’s going to have several amazing “takeaways” – a great opportunity for leaders and veterans who have worked in this industry to come together and look at the key triggers that could help to bring demand and growth back; and how they are looking at the shape and longevity of this recovery trajectory from now until the end of 2022.

SummitFX2020 – will demonstrate thought leadership and expert opinion which will be extremely valuable to all those who are invested in and are looking to participate in the AVGC sector.