Cascade 2011–2012 Year in Review
Article by Floyd Archie Buchanan
The season began with a Summer Social Networking Night in Old Town Portland Oregon. We met some new members and enjoyed a night at the Thirsty Lion.
In August, some of us went to the larger organization’s conference, SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver, BC. We found that Hosteling International (www.hihostels.com) provides an inexpensive way to attend, which could prove useful for 2014’s conference there, again.
In September 2011, Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH recommended “Drunken Ninjas, Robot Police, and Zombie Pigeons at Best of the NW Animation Festival 2011.” ‘Best of the Fest’ showcased 28 short film animations from
around the world. This special one-night event presented films from two Oscar nominees, and many other award-winning artists. Attending filmmakers answered questions from the audience following each block of shorts. A feast for animation lovers, there were delights for every taste.
In October 2011, we showed Selected Features from the Computer
Animation Festival, from the conference in Vancouver, BC, SIGGRAPH 2011. This is an annual event (formerly known as the Electronic Theater). We always enjoy screening the very best animated shorts of the year from the juried competition.
On December 30, 2011, we held our annual Holiday Social, with a
chance to get together, network, and start the New Year together.
January 27–29, 2012, saw our entry in the Global Game Jam, in collaboration with Portland Indie Game Squad (PIGsquad). Local gamers came together for a forty-eight hour marathon of computer game creation. Forty-one people participated in the Jam and the Cascade SIGGRAPH chapter contributed to the event; supplying the participants with appetizers and beverages.
Our May event, “Games, Sound and Music on the Cusp,” held
in conjunction with Portland State University’s New Music Network, brought together game designers and musicians. The event fostered new relationships between these two disparate groups. Topics covered classic methods of music in games, having graphics respond to the music, ways for composers to get involved in the industry, and emerging trends in musical interactivity.
June brought us “MakeSpaceShip and LightTroupe” at Really Big Video. Interactive CG installations designed by Portland artists featured a special
hands-on preview of Make Space Ship, as well as special demonstrations
designed by LightTroupe. Multiple stations were available showcasing unique, interactive computer graphics ready to be played by all participants. LightTroupe demonstrated its latest web-cam fractal technology, interactive musical drawing and the LightPiano, as well as physics-based visual effects.
We look forward to the new season. In September we will have a program meeting where all members are welcome to attend and provide input for the upcoming year’s events. There are many great ideas in the works. Look for announcements about how you can contribute, volunteer, or serve on a committee.
SIGGRAPH Symposium to Debut this Year in Vancouver
Article by Patrick Coan
The SIGGRAPH Symposium provides an intriguing look at the global face of the business of computer graphics. Although only in its first year, a noteworthy lineup of presenters from across the spectrum of influence has already been announced.
The event, held over a single day, is divided into two sessions: the first focusing on the nuts and bolts of how the industry operates in a global landscape; the second, honing in on the culture of the business and how this culture affects the larger picture.
For the first session, the “business of the business,” the speakers and special guest participants were deliberately chosen for their ability to prompt and engage in open and thought-provoking dialogue on vital topics such as localization, culture driven content, global operations, finance, vision and strategy. For example, this segment of the Symposium will address operations in the global market.
As for the culture session, it provides a chance to ask and answer fundamental questions related to the culture of the business. Who are the magicians behind the curtain? How do they operate and what inspires their decisions? How does a company’s internal culture filter out into the rest of the world? Does the world shape the industry, or does the industry shape the world? How have we acclimated to meet the global demands of technically impressive visual entertainment that continues to inspire?
The SIGGRAPH Symposium is open to all registered attendees (register here) and provides a unique opportunity for open and honest conversation with others from all walks of life in the industry. In terms of format, a moderator will be present to keep the dialogue moving forward at the various sessions.
In order to gain a better understanding of the Symposium, I was fortunate to catch up with Jill Smolin, Chair of the event, long-time SIGGRAPH mover and shaker, and VFX educator. The visionary for the Symposium, she was kind enough to offer her insight into this year’s inaugural event.
Who does the Symposium concern, and what is the significance of this event?
SIGGRAPH is a community of creators. While our common thread is computer graphics, the manifestation of that thread is seen all over the world in almost every medium. So, really, the Symposium concerns everyone, and strives to involve those creators who have evolved into our leaders.
What was this event’s catalyst, what sparked it? Who said, “OK, we have a need for this”?
I was on the 2011 SIGGRAPH Committee and had a great conversation with the incredible Shannon Gans a business day idea. I had previously put together the Production Summit for the Visual Effects Society, so there was already precedent for such an event. So that’s where it started. Since then, it has evolved and developed into what it is today….which is still just the idea…we’ll see what it becomes on August 7!
Will the event give our audience a historical overview of where the industry has come from?
Not deliberately. It’s more about where we are now and where we’re going. Maybe someone will talk about where we’ve been, but I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.
Will the event address both large and small-scale production companies?
We have all kinds of people represented. Everyone has a really interesting history. Some are currently running multinational companies; some are running smaller companies; all are involved in the global picture of computer graphics.
Regarding regional, cultural and language differences: who does the symposium represent, and will methods of international cooperation be addressed?
I think during the second session, the culture of business, we’ll see just how big an impact the international picture has on the culture of these businesses…both on local and global levels.
The event description mentions “Frank and honest conversation”, might there be philosophy and tradition discussed, old vs. new?
It’s more about giving these very busy executives, who are generously offering their time and insights, the forum in which they can express their views as part of a conversation, and not as a presentation or an argument. This will be a bit of a state of the union…where we are and where we’re going…
The ancient Greek’s symposium was a drinking party for debate, plotting, boasting and revelry; will any of these things be occurring at the SIGGRAPH Symposium – and will there be any Greeks involved?
This is hilarious, and I certainly would welcome drinking, debate and plenty of revelry….not sure we’ll have conference togas though.
Why anyone interested in education should attend SIGGRAPH 2010
by Bev Standish
When I first heard of SIGGRAPH I pictured wonderful exhibits of software, graphics and animation.
I thought there would be wonderful opportunities to expand my skills in the digital arts and meet
fascinating people who were leaders in the industry.
The fact that SIGGRAPH showcases the best in computer animation, the latest in technology and
research, and hosts talks and panels presented by both up and coming and well established
academia and industry leaders is incredibly exciting. Any one of those elements would be
reason enough to attend SIGGRAPH 2010. But it turns out that’s not all SIGGRAPH has
to offer… especially for an educator. SIGGRAPH is a very special gathering of people from
all over the world: people who are outstanding researchers, artists, industry professionals,
representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation,
educators from every level of academia, and government officials, who can come together to
discuss the future of education.
The future of education looks a bit grim these days. A Time Magazine report highlights some
disturbing facts: one million American students drop out of school every year—that’s one every
SIGGRAPH 2010 offers some initiatives that can make a difference to education. This is not just a
conference for people who teach multimedia. It is a conference for those who use multimedia to
teach; who want to invent ways to use it to better education. SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on
Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) 2010 will undoubtedly be the most thrilling place for
an educator, such as myself, to be. The opportunities for collaboration are phenomenal.
The Disney Learning Challenge is offering an exciting initiative based at SIGGRAPH 2010 that takes
my breath away. The goal of this group is to harness the potential of digital technologies and children’s
creativity to advance learning. George Leonard’s book “Education and Ecstasy,” profoundly claims that
learning can and should be fun; the Disney Learning Challenge does likewise, pinpointing my exact interest!
The Challenge will showcase entertaining interactive technology that will impart “Active Knowledge of
Learning Concepts.” The group is engaged in using the digital arts to teach different subjects such as
the solar system, coordinate geometry, rhythmic music, vocabulary, fractional quantities, habitats and
ecosystems, geometric transformations, revealing the rock cycle, and the use of simple machines using
the visual arts. The word synnamation has recently been used to describe animations that communicate
complex scientific and technological concepts to a variety of audiences. It sounds similar to what the
Disney Learning Challenge is proposing for ages 7-11. Although this initiative is directed at capturing
the creative potential of all students, imagine the impact that using digital technologies will have on
students who might be hard to reach otherwise. If students were having more fun in the education
system, perhaps the dropout rate would decrease dramatically.
The buzz word in education today is “immersion.” Using the visual arts in a way that incorporates
academic themes is right on target. The 3D animator of today must learn artistic principles but must
also learn how to simulate a multitude of real world properties. In short, the world of 3D animation
involves a total immersion into storytelling, math, science, physics, art and music; educators who wish
to inspire their students will delight in these engaging learning concepts. I can’t wait to share ideas
If this isn’t enough to excite you there also are Birds of a Feather (BOF) events: informal presentations,
discussions, and demonstrations for people who share interests, goals, technologies, environments, or
backgrounds. Birds of a Feather events are made possible through the conference, but are actually proposed and organized by SIGGRAPH 2010 attendees.
For educators looking to reach out into their local communities, Stephen Jacobs who is involved with
SIGKids pointed out a few sessions of interest: “This year we are offering an all day workshop [on] Wednesday for the local Girl Scouts. They have a badge called ‘Games for Life’ and we developed a
one-day workshop at RIT [Rochester Institute of Technology] to let them meet most of the requirements
in a day. We’re also running an early Tuesday AM “Train the Trainers” workshop for SIGGRAPH Attendees
or Volunteers who might want to run one in their local communities.”
There is also a Birds of a Feather event “Meeting for Parents and Troop Leaders” as a part of SIGKids.
This session is a Q & A about careers and education in the game industry. As Mr. Jacobs explained to me,
his first involvement with SIGGRAPH was in 1994 where he was “part of SIGKids and had a booth that
demonstrated a program we’d run in Rochester for English as a Second Language students to write ‘Books
Without Words’ on their computers and use a hypermedia authoring package to make an interactive version
as well.” It will be interesting to see what this group is up to this year.
In addition to the above, another BOF event is being presented by California Educators. This session
is for public and private school educators pre kindergarten to post graduate. They will welcome
professionals who currently work with schools or are interested in doing so.
The 20XX.EDU: Grand Challenges in Education (Part 1) panel will focus on the future of education
and how digital technologies can serve it. The discussion topics and questions are:
- • How can educational institutions take advantage of the increasing
popularity and dissemination of these technologies?
• How can individuals/institutions benefit from the massive increase
in participatory and collaborative learning in our society?
• What are the major challenges in education today, in the sciences
and the humanities?
• What are the new educational trends and paradigms for the new,
• What kind of new learning contexts can be created outside of the
The panel that is asking these questions is made up of a diverse group of outstanding researchers
and artists, academy and industry professionals, educators, and government officials. This group
meets Wednesday July 28th from 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM. Fortunately, there is also the 20XX.EDU:
Grand Challenges in Education (Part 2) which meets from 10:30 to 12:15pm to continue this
Hopefully educators can come together with these exciting SIGGRAPH groups to explore the future
of education, share ideas and learn from different perspectives. Hope to see you there
Portland 3D Modeler presents “Escape of Middle C” Movie
by Bev Standish
On Sunday May 23rd Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH presented a movie created by Bev Standish called “The Escape Of Middle C.” This movie took eight years to make, with all animation and music done entirely by Standish. Eighty-eight people attended the event which began with an introduction by the Portland movie maker on her motivation and the process and the adventure of making a 3D animated/live action fantasy adventure-mystery movie. It was designed to motivate children to read music and to introduce basic music reading skills.
Standish described how the movie was made with Autodesk 3ds Max, how long it took to produce the 77-minute animated movie, and introduced members of the cast and crew who were in the audience. Also shown were opening animations, done by two of Standish’s students.
The storyline featured a child from another planet who could be healed only through music. The young alien’s father used his authority to ban music. Sheet music was burned and walking, talking instruments were hunted down and thrown in jail. The note Middle C escaped to earth with other criminals and the alien authorities followed. The notes had personalities that made them unforgettable, including their position on the music staff. They warned children on earth of impending danger by spelling words on the music staff using their letter name. The children in the movie and in the audience were compelled to decode the words (name the notes) in order to solve the clues and save the day.
Following the movie, there was a question and answer period and a reception with food and cake.
See link to Digital Elf Studios.