"A big part of what this event is about is that we undersell ourselves so much and don't appreciate what we have here. ".
Michael Weir, the creator of a brand-new festival that showcases Northern Ireland's talent in video games, animation, and special effects, says as much.
Belfast hosts the sold-out Rendr festival on Thursday and Friday. .
The festival will feature more than 30 industry speakers.
Additionally, there will be live performances, digital art, and technology demonstrations.
Rendr was inspired by the Belfast Photo Festival, which Weir also directs.
In 2022, the photo festival transported to Stormont a sizable painting of intertwined hands by the French artist Saype.
However, Rendr covers a wider range of media, including film, animation, video games, photography, and special effects.
They frequently depended on one another, according to Weir, so they weren't distinct industries.
"So much convergence is happening right now, and this event is a first of its kind," he declared.
We're kind of like all of those film festivals, video game festivals, and animation festivals.
"People can begin their careers in gaming before transitioning to film or animation.
"All of this is made possible by technology. ".
Belfast is developing Studio Ulster, a virtual production facility that, when it opens in 2024, will unite a number of industries.
There are several prosperous video game and animation companies in Northern Ireland.
Weir, however, noted that many talented individuals in Northern Ireland's related industries might go unnoticed.
He remarked, "They're not out shouting about it.
"There are a lot of people here who don't feel like they're valued enough, so part of what we want to do is to show those people that we value them and to stop undervaluing ourselves. ".
These people are able to perform on stage with some of the biggest names in the business thanks to this event. ".
Along with people from Northern Ireland, Rendr has drawn some very well-known figures.
Speaking at the festival will be senior employees from Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic.
George Lucas, the renowned director who made films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones among others, founded both of those businesses.
On Friday, Industrial Light and Magic's associate visual effects supervisor Charmaine Chan, who recently contributed to the Mandalorian and The Batman, will give a talk.
Another festival guest is Mike Reiss, a longtime writer and producer of The Simpsons, as well as David James, a photographer who has done extensive work for celebrities like Tom Cruise and David Bowie.
The Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai HBO Max series from Warner Brothers is directed by Tara Rueping.
She will nonetheless be at Rendr and has a wealth of experience in visual design for animation and video games.
So what guidance does Weir hope those kind of experts can offer those just starting their careers?
Inspiration and conviction, he responded.
"It inspires people when these people show up and talk about the things they're working on and the methodical steps they took to get where they are.
It's not 'them up there and us down here,' but rather 'you can be just as successful and you can be just as successful being from Northern Ireland. '.
"That is the message we want people to take away from this. ".
Weir also claims that the festival is drawing inspiration from the fact that Northern Ireland will soon serve as the location for the filming of Blade Runner 2099, a TV series based on the Blade Runner movies.
The Banana Block has been transformed into "a misty Blade Runner inspired environment" in the Portview trade center on Belfast's Newtownards Road.
When we bring it back the following year, we'll have the same art direction and, hopefully, will work with some of the individuals who will be shooting the production here, he said. "It'll be really interesting," he said.