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GDC 2023 Session Guide for VFX Artists, Animators, Technical Artists, and More

When it comes to video games, it's not just about how they play: It's about how they look and feel as you're playing them. VFX artists, animators, art directors, and technical artists heading to the Game Developers Conference: This Session Guide and Walkthrough will help you make the most of your GDC 2023

In our Visual Arts track, be inspired by leading artists' work from stellar concept art to post-production and learn about the process behind the work. Learn methods to create quality art and animations for all kinds of games under tight deadlines; from stellar concept art techniques to post-production best practices and everything in between.

The track includes sessions from: Animation SummitArt Direction SummitTechnical Artist SummitVisual Effects Summit.

Sign Up For GDC 2023 Here

The 2023 Game Developers Conference features hundreds of sessions—covering nearly every discipline, topic, and focus that matters to game developers today. It can be hard to choose! That's why we've created this helpful guide. Head here to view all previous GDC 2023 session guides.

It features some standout sessions, panels, and events dedicated to helping your career and company growth efforts. In addition, we've got tips on making the most of your GDC, and links to GDC Vault videos and Game Developer articles that will help you get pumped for GDC 2023.

Be sure to visit our Session Viewer for a full list of Visual Arts talks at GDC 2023 and get started on prepping that schedule. For those wanting the option to experience every visual arts session at GDC 2023, be sure to register for an All-Access Pass

Core Session Picks for: Visual Arts

How To Make AAA-Looking Games Like 'A Plague Tale: Requiem' with 20 Artists
Gregoire Binetruy (Level Builder, Asobo Studio)

Location: Room 2010, West Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "Environment artist Greg Binetruy will share how Asobo Studio's Art Team managed to create the strong and critically acclaimed graphics for A Plague Tale: Requiem—often compared with the biggest AAA blockbusters—with only 15-20 artists for a development time of three years... which included a pandemic lockdown and two office relocations!"

'Dead Space': Harnessing the Power of Light and Darkness
Guillaume Goudreault (Lead Lighting Artist, Electronic Art)

Location: Room 2006, West Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "This talk will take a deep dive into the lighting art direction of the Dead Space Remake. Join Guillaume Goudreault, a lead on Motive's lighting team, on the development journey from how the initial ideation was carried out to honor the original Dead Space, to the production challenges with the new lighting features of the game."

The Cinematics of 'Horizon Forbidden West'
Ismaël Auray (Cinematics Director, Guerrilla)

Location: Room 3016, West Hall
Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "Horizon Forbidden West is one of the few games that showcases a colossal 22 hours of cinematic content across an open-world game. This session shares an exclusive breakdown of key scenes, principles, and tools the project used to sustain a high-visual fidelity across the experience."

Ship This Ship! Art Direction on the Ships of 'Skull and Bones'
Andie Sulistio (Associate Art Director, Ubisoft Singapore)

Location: Room 301, South Hall
Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "In this session, Andie Sulistio, Associate Art Director at Ubisoft Singapore, will present the visual direction of the ships in Skull and Bones."

Creating Context Art in the Open World of 'Saint's Row's' Santo Ileso
James Taylor (Principal Artist, DS Volition)

Location: Room 215, South Hall
Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "This talk covers what a context artist is, how the position came to be, how it evolved throughout the project, and how it may be a position other teams need for their next worlds."

Summits Session Picks for: Visual Arts

Visual Effects Summit: The VFX of 'Temtem'
Kees Klop (VFX Artist, Crema)
Miguel Ortiz Martin (VFX Artist, Crema)

Location: Room 201, South Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Learn how the VFX team at Crema brought the VFX of Temtem to life by giving each effect a special narrative, from virtually infinite creative freedom to a coherent final look."

Animation Summit: Making Faces: A Masterclass of Facial Animation
Chris Landreth (Cofounder & CCO, JALI Research)

Location: Room 303, South Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 10:50 am - 11:50 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "This talk and interactive demonstration—using slides, video, and real-time technical examples—will cover: observing and drawing faces, principles of anatomy, and rigging and animating."

Art Direction Summit: Artist vs. Manager
Kacper Niepokólczycki (Lead Environment Artist, CD PROJEKT RED)

Location: Room 3007, West Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Kacper goes through solutions on how to feed creative hunger while being a lead, showing attendees the big picture of leading a team, and all the effort that goes into this role. The goal is to provide enough information to understand if going into management career path is the right fit for you."

Technical Artist Summit: 'Mix Universe': The Tech Behind Bringing Music to the Universe
Chris Zuko (Technical Director, Terrible Posture Games)

Location: Room 3005, West Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 10:50 am - 11:50 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Chris Zuko, Technical Director at Terrible Posture Games, will share all the gritty details behind what it takes to make something like Mix Universe, a node-based musical sandbox in Unreal where all of the audio visuals are real-time."

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your GDC

1. Join a speed networking session: Our talks and panels are amazing, but be sure to bookmark at least one speed networking session during your time at GDC. They're a great way to network with like-minded professionals and industry colleagues. More info on these sessions to come. 

2. Meet up in the Connect Lounge: The GDC 2023 Expo Floor features hundreds of booths and exhibitors—along with a dedicated networking space where attendees can schedule meetings (through Swapcard, once available) with prospective clients or employers.

3. Relax in our Visual Arts Lounge: It's time to rejoice: Community spaces are returning to GDC 2023! Not only are they a place to unwind during the day, they're also the perfect spot to network with industry colleages and prospective employers. Head to our Floor Plan to see our community spaces throughout the Expo Floor, including interactive spaces for certain disciplines and the GDC Play Lounge. 

4. Get food recs from an SF ambassador: Trying to find something to eat in between sessions? Keep an eye out for the city’s official Welcome Ambassadors–in their signature bright orange jackets, with the words “Welcome Ambassador” written on the back. They'll be hanging around GDC and may have recommendations on interesting spots to grab breakfast or lunch.

5. Follow GDC on social media: Marketing professionals should make sure to tune into GDC's FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Mastodon to keep an eye on the coolest marketing trends happening at GDC 2023. We'll be on the floor throughout the event highlighting amazing spots and exhibitors. 

Watch and Read

How to Make Art that Pisses Off Dictatorships and Makes You a Refugee: Andrew Maximov (GDC 2022)

Recalibrating Our Limits: Lighting on 'Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart': Brian Mullen, Anna Roan (GDC 2022)

Art Deep Dive: Optimizing the visuals of Glow Season in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: Sarah Northway (Game Developer)

12 principles for game animation: Christopher Totten (Game Developer)

Watch more Virtual Arts talks on GDC Vault here

This is the latest in our series of Session Guides for GDC 2023, with recommendations for sessions, events, networking opportunities, and more. Head here to view all previous GDC 2023 session guides.

Of course, the only way to see these sessions, and so much more, is to sign up for GDC! 

Register for GDC 2023 Here

We can’t wait to see you at GDC 2023, taking place March 20-24, 2023 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. Head here for information on booking a hotel and other travel inquiries, and follow the #GDC23 hashtag for the latest news and updates for this year’s exciting event.

GDC returns to San Francisco this March 20-24, 2023, and registration is now open! For more information, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC23 hashtag on social media.

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