Enter The Matrix with Isaac Cohen – May 10 @ OMSI


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Step into our dojo!  VFX/PDX and OMSI present a night of VR/AR, Portland style.  Featuring a presentation from VR champion Isaac Cohen, up from SF and fresh off of his appearance at the A MAZE fest in Berlin.  Experimental and emotion-driven would be the best description of Cohen’s varied work, and he’ll be giving his headlining presentation around 6:30pm.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also take a true snapshot of the Portland VR scene and catch up on the latest offerings from our best and brightest, with VR/AR demos from 5:30pm featuring:
Hinge Digital
360 Labs
Giant Astronaut
Oregon Story Board

All of this built around a Reel Science screening of The Matrix (after the presentation, starting around 7:45pm).  A great excuse to revisit this classic on the Empirical Theater screen!

Needless to say this is all shaping up to be an epic night, so tickets are moving fast.  Mark your calendars and take the red pill with us on May 10. (always wanted to say that)

Again, the schedule starts with demos with Portland VR/AR companies and studios at 5:30pm in the lobby.  Isaac Cohen presents from 6:30-7:45 in the theater.  The Matrix screening from 7:45 to 10pm.  Dinner?  Food is overrated and there’s too much VR to consume.  (kidding – OMSI’s snack bar will be open if you can’t eat ahead of time!)

Tickets and more info over at this OMSI page.

Reel Science featuring Portland VR, Isaac Cohen, and The Matrix.
OMSI Empirical Theater
Wednesday May 10
1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Grimm Fades to Black


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All good things come to an end, and today was Grimm’s day.

It was a good run. Time to raise a well deserved glass.

Four score (er, well, 6 years) and precisely 123 episodes ago, Portland got it’s shot.  Rather than take the easy out and ship the work off to our neighbors to the North (BC) or South (CA) as so many have done, the forward thinking Producers of the NBC/Universal show Grimm did something unique.  They looked at our raw ingredients here in Portland, and saw a spark.

Coordinated through the office of Oregon Film and masterminded by then-Executive Director, Vince Porter, the team behind Grimm agreed to a “Pepsi Challenge” of sorts.  Several prospective companies, near and far, submitted Grimm like transformation (Woge) pitches done without logos or branding of any kind.  Portland went up against more established vendors in larger VFX markets.

The taste test proved without a doubt that the Portland shops were ready.  Hungry.  And that solid VFX work could be done right here, alongside production, at a stone’s throw away.

And work we did.  Grimm was the gift that kept on giving, and as they teed up challenge after challenge, you all rose to the occasion and proved time and time again that you have what it takes to knock it out of the park.   Finally- a show not afraid of (but that actually embraced, and designed for) our clouds and rain!  Ha.  And VFX heavy, too?  Amazing.  It’s the role Portland was born to play!  Ripples of the creatures, characters, and shots of all types continue to permeate and pervade the demo reels of the shops and artists involved, and it’s been a source Portland pride to say the least.  Dare I say it’s given us an identity.

But yes…  all good things come to an end.  By my (unofficial) estimate, about 40 CG/VFX/Post Production artists between the two Portland vendors on the show are being “rolled off.”  Does this compare to, for example, a recent Intel layoff of 800?  That day when a key account broke ties with W+K, an account that had employed 400+ on it’s own?  Perhaps not in raw numbers, but certainly in spirit – consider another unofficial estimate:  1/3 of Portland’s working, studio based artists primarily doing VFX are now out of a job.  I don’t care if you’re a glass half full or half empty type:  that stat is Hexenbiest scary on several levels.

In many ways, forming this user group was a response to the momentum Grimm brought to the table as we elevated above being labeled a “one shop town” in the press and industry circles.  And it’s been great to show off each other’s work, talk shop over a beer/coffee/what have you, and mix it up occasionally.  But – for better or for worse, as they say…   just as we did when this thing started – right now we need to step up, pull together as a community, and take action.

We’re organizing a night of networking and interviews with local companies and studios on the rise, that can put your skills and experience to work.  Take advantage.  Details here.

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