ACM SIGGRAPHia

Reflections of a First-Time SIGGRAPH Attendee

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Miscellaneous, SIGGRAPH 2011

I am not a computer graphics professional. In fact, my Master’s degree is actually in (gasp!) English. I appreciate the science and artistry inherent in the industry, but I will admit that when my husband gets home from work and starts talking about tessellation, I tend to go cross-eyed and start reenacting episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer inside my head.

So what am I doing at SIGGRAPH? After 13 years of the hubby’s SIGGRAPH stories (I met Gonzo! I saw Dick Van Dyke! I saw an extended trailer for that Olivia Wilde movie (otherwise known as Tron)!), I was curious to see for myself. I finally had the opportunity this year, and it was just an added bonus that this year’s conference is in the absolutely gorgeous city of Vancouver.

I kicked off my SIGGRAPH experience with the Technical Papers Fast Forward, which turned out to be an exercise in “Let’s make Mary feel really, really stupid!” (Although other attendees assured me that this session tends to have the same effect on them, as well). I pulled out a scrap of paper and kept a running tally: papers I could at least understand the basic premise of vs. papers that made me go “What???” The ratio turned out to be about 3:1 in favor of my own ignorance, but I still enjoyed the session. Lots of pretty pictures (I believe that’s the correct technical term) and interesting showmanship techniques (gorilla suit, anyone?).

The next night, I sat in on the Electronic Theater (because even an English major can enjoy watching movies!). From the clever to the creepy and everything in between, the range of storytelling and imagery was amazing. If you didn’t attend on the first night, make a point of fitting it in your schedule – you have three more chances!

So my first impression as a SIGGRAPH outsider? Let’s just say that I look forward to being further amazed/confused/intellectually humbled over the next three days.

 


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