I finally experienced my first SIGGRAPH conference. I have always heard about SIGGRAPH, and while at DreamWorks Animation I would often have artists requesting time off so they could attend the conference. While I had a pretty good idea about what it was I had never gone until this year.
SIGGRAPH is short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques. It is an annual conference on computer graphics which you can imagine is pretty important for computer animation.
The conference was made up of one really large exhibits floor with all kinds of companies showing off their new technologies, and software. It also included a job fair, panels, production sessions, discussions, art galleries, and parties every night.
It was a great experience, and I thought I would share some of my highlights from the week. I took on the full conference this year, and went from Sunday until Thursday which might have been a little much for my first time. Some of the talks were interesting, some where way to techy for me, and others I learned a great deal from. I liked some of the conversations the best, since you really got to hear the challenges other people and companies in the industry where facing.
Lets start from the beginning… I first attended a presentation from the guys that started Aardman Animation, David Sproxton & Peter Lord. It was interesting to hear how they started their company on a dining room table. Aardman is known for the stop motion films; Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run, and The Pirates.
I seemed to start the conference out with a Stop Motion Theme, since the next presentation was by LAIKA. You might know them from the movies Coraline, ParaNorman, and most recently the Boxtrolls. While stop motion is not something I would ever want to do I do appreciate the artists that do this kind of work. Here is a Time-Lapse of the making of a scene.
Sunday was a lot of these types of presentations, since the exhibit floor was not open until Tuesday. At the end of the day I went to a Fast Forward where they gave all the people who wrote technical papers on new technologies 30 seconds to introduce, and try and interest you to attend their full presentation later in the week.
I big thing at the conference was virtual reality, and they even had a whole section they called Virtual Village. There are some really cool technologies coming out, and I’m excited to see where they take them. One of the exhibits there was two boxes, and… I’m sure I will mess it up trying to explain how it works, but if you stuck your hand in one box you could feel and see the person’s hand from another box. It is like a touchable hologram, and I’m interested to see where they take this tech.
I went to a really neat presentation for the 40th Anniversary of ILM. Industrial Light & Magic is a VFX company that was started by George Lucas in 1975 to work on his movies. Later they started doing work for other clients as well, and now have touched so many great films. To name a few… Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones movies, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, The Abyss, Jurassic Park, Twister, Titanic, and most recently Ant-Man to name a few. It is also interesting to note that they had a computer graphics devision that George eventually sold to Steve Jobs, and became Pixar.
Some of the talks I sounded interesting, but after they started going over the codes I realized I was in over my head.
I did find a very interesting discussion about cloud based rendering vs in-house rendering. One of my goals of the conference was to learn more about rendering, and I got a lot out of this discussion.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore some of you. I did go to some fun parties.
On Tuesday evening I went to the DreamWorks Animation party. As in true DreamWorks style it was a very impressive party, great food, beautiful location, and of course amazing people. It was nice getting caught up with old co-workers, and meeting some new people.
On Wednesday I went to the Pixar Renderman party, and got to see their latest short. I also learned about the world of collecting walking teapots. I guess people go crazy about these things, and you can sell them on eBay for a decent price. If you are interested to learn more here is a video from 2013 that gives a little more back story.
Overall it was a great time, and I learned a lot about new technologies coming out. I plan to go next year, but not sure if I will go for the whole week again. I got pretty behind on work, and have been spending most of this week trying to get caught up.
If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog. If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.