There’s a ever-expanding scene that appreciates digital motion graphic design and art worldwide, but while the US has the awesome research shindig SIGGRAPH, it’s been tougher for the community around digital motion to come together. MGFest has been working to change that. Its first five years have done a lot to promote the best in motion – see the lovely imagery above — but 2009 is the year it explodes, with a year of events focused regionally. By going from city to city, it’s amplifying the best of the art happening in the corners of our geographically-huge nation. And it’s found an ideal place to start: Chicago.

If you’re nearby, you can get into all the MGFest events (minus the Imagination College workshops) for a ridiculously-tiny $7. That’s seven bucks total – I didn’t leave off the zeroes usually associated with events. (Ahem. TED recession special, anyone?) [All the latest event details]

There’s quite a lot to cover, but to get things kicked off, here’s a look at what’s coming to Chicago. And, oh yeah, I’ll be part of the festivities, giving a short panel talk Friday, a big set of workshops for Saturday, and performing Sunday evening (Michael Una of CDM will be there, too). More on that soon.

I’m really pleased Create Digital Motion gets the chance to sponsor and cover this series. Stay tuned, as we’ll try to bring as much of this to the rest of the world as we can.

2 Screenings :: Thr22 & Fri23
3 Studio Tours :: Mon19, Fri23 & Sat24
2 Art Showcases :: Sat24 & Sun25
Work from over 80 artists, including: Nine Inch Nails, Shepard Fairey, David Byrne, Justice, Ronin, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Lobo, Psyop, MK12, Negativland, Addictive TV, Stardust, Shilo, Nakd, Motion Theory, Framestore CFC, Passion Pictures, Trollback+Co, Transistor, Brand New School, Blur, Peter Kirn, Vir Unis, RookTV, Stoptime341, Chicago Art Department, Nano, Brian Dressel, Michael Una, Merkaba, Ontologist, Polyfuse, Slava, Lokua, Galina Shevchenko, Chris Hampson, Christian Matts, MF Chicago, Sin-R8, Glen Stephani and more.
Imagination College

Summit 1 : Chicago Convergence :: Thr22
Summit 2 : Motion Design Conference :: Fri23
Workshops :: Tue20 – Sun25

Five full days of workshops & conferences on Motion Design, Sound Design, and Interactivity. Presenters include experts from crowdSPRING, Maxon, Digital Kitchen, Critical Mass, Adobe, Manifest Digital, RoundArch, Toolfarm, Create Digital Motion, GrayMachine, Octane Rich Media, Liquidus Media, Spark, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia and more.

Festival Sponsors include: The Chicago Convergence, Maxon, Columbia College, Stash DVD Magazine, Toolfarm, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bridges Media Group, Lift Motion Design, Create Digital Motion, DigiEffects, Livid Instruments, Resolume, Boris FX, GarageCUBE, All City Technology, Lumen Eclipse, Sterling Ledet, VidVox, SXSW Interactive, Mac Specialist, Ableton, Harold Washington College, UnScene and Clif Bar.

++ Over $17000 in door prizes… including products from Maxon, SXSW, Livid, Resolume, VidVox, GarageCube, Ableton and more.

The workshop lineup looks terrific. I’ll be attending and reporting on as much as I can, but there are some tasty bits on topics we love like coding custom After Effects expressions. That said, I expect the big highlight will be the performances and installations. Saturday night January 24 is a showcase by Mashitude and tour in a really gorgeous space at Pixel Brothers on North Wolcott in the loop. And Sunday night there’s an A/V showcase including myself doing simultaneous audio and visuals, our own Michael Una, and Chicago-based Stoptime 341, the visual artist who has done the eye-poppingly great visuals for DJ Tiesto.

Chicago calendar

Stay tuned for more highlights early next week. After Chicago, MGFest travels to Cambridge (where CDM and our friends will also be attending in force), plus Austin, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.