This year’s Art Gallery theme was “In Search of the Miraculous” and “features digital and technologically mediated artworks that reveal moments of wonderment” (from the Advanced Program). The Art Gallery offered some lovely, and occasionally interactive, pieces that would be difficult to describe just through the written word… Instead, let’s take a look at the tour presented by this year’s Art Gallery Chair, Osman Khan.
Emerging Technologies (E-Tech) on the other hand “presents innovative technologies and applications in several fields, from displays and input devices to collaborative environments and robotics, and technologies that apply to film and game production” (from the Advanced Program). The opportunity to see both of these venues has come and gone, but just as we have a tour for the Art Gallery, we also have one from this year’s Emerging Technologies Chair, Preston Smith. Check it out to see what you missed… or relive it!
The session was broken into one 40 minute presentation and two 20 minute presentations. First was “Curls Gone Wild: Hair Simulation in Brave” which focused on the challenges presented by all the different types and styles of hair in the movie. In order to handle the complexity, a new simulator was written called Taz. It was originally designed for curly hair but is general enough that it could be used on other hair types and was used on most of the hair in the movie. There was an in-depth look at how the simulator was created and then the focus shifted to rigging which gave the animators additional control over the hair.
Next, was “High-Fidelity Facial Hair Capture” which described a process to scan faces with facial hair. The process allows for an individual to be scanned without having to shave and includes removing a person’s facial hair digitally and replacing it with a simulation. The last presentation was “Furry, Fuzzy, Lovable: Once Upon a Monster’s Fur Pipeline” which focused on how to streamline the fur making process for game characters.
This Talk consisted of four smaller presentations. The first was titled “Computer-Assisted Animation of Line and Paint in Disney’s Paperman” and started with a clip from the short so attendees could see the look of the piece. Paperman is considered a 2D/3d hybrid and faced many challenges due to this fact. Several tools were developed to create the short, including a MotionBetween tool, to make things easier for the artists. Despite the fact that everything was created digitally, the movie was lauded as a handcrafted piece because the artists painted the scenes to give the short its distinctive look.
“Simulation Preview in Brave” was next and talked about the use of low resolution clothing to allow animators to preview what the shot would look like; the preview took the guesswork out of the animation process. “Stable, Art-Directable Skin and Flesh Using Biphasic Materials” started with a brief history on skin simulation before doing a breakdown of skin and flesh simulations. The talk ended with future related work which included such things as skin wrinkles and speeding up the simulation process.
The final presentation was “Character Design: Visual Complexity in Brave” and focused on the challenges of building the animals in the movie. The process of building the horse, Angus, began with research. This allowed the modeller to become familiar with the muscles in a horse and to pick and choose the most interesting and prominent of the muscles. In the case of the bears and Angus, there was some trial and error until they found what worked to give the animals a sense of realism in their movements.
Inspired by SIGGRAPH Asia 2011’s popular Symposium on Apps, this new program presents the latest advances in mobile technologies. Situated in the hall by the 400-series rooms, SIGGRAPH Mobile features such things as LED-to-LED communication and augmented reality demonstrations. The “LED-to-LED Visible Light Communication for Mobile Applications” demonstration shows the advantages of this type of communication and showcases how this technology can be used in clothing. “When the World is Not Enough: Augmenting Reality to Bring Products to People” uses QR codes to download the necessary app to an individual’s phone, thus allowing them to help market products through augmenting reality.
To learn more about what SIGGRAPH Mobile has to offer and more about the other demonstrations, visit the SIGGRAPH Mobile page.
South Hall K was the home of several CAF production sessions from Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks. The morning kicked off with Sony Pictures Animation’s “Checking in at Hotel Transylvania.” The film took 6 to 7 years in the making and director, Genndy Tartakovsky, was brought in later in the production process. His vision for the film included over-the-top expressions that are commonly found in 2D cartoons. This was a departure from the original vision of the film and presented some challenges because many of the characters had already been built. The session explained how the animators surmounted these obstacles in addition to the challenges presented by the snappy timing.
After the Hotel Transylvania session ended, Sony Pictures Imageworks presented their session, “Travel Behind the Scenes of Men in Black 3.” For those who hadn’t seen the film yet, they started with the movie’s trailer. The session focused on the responsibilities of a VFX Supervisor and explained how interdependent all the various departments of a film are so collaboration is key. The crew faced several challenges which included: working within the MIB look and feel, shooting without a full script and facing location and weather related issues. Next, they reviewed specific scenes and the steps that were taken to bring them to the screen.
A few hours later, Sony Pictures Imageworks kicked off “The Untold Story of The Amazing Spider-Man” with a 3D showing of the trailer. After the trailer, VFX Supervisor Jerome Chen explained that the movie is considered a “reboot”. During his explanation, he described some of the ways that this movie differs from the other Spider-Man movies. Examples included the fact that the film had a new director and new actor to play the role of Spider-Man in addition to a new desire for an organic, naturalistic style to the look and movement. The remaining portion of the session was broken into discussing the animation and final sequences of the film. The animation section included a breakdown of the high school fight scene and the final swing scene of the movie. The final sequences section discussed how to gradually freeze a lizard and how the water effects were created during the sewer fight. The session ended with attendees putting their 3D glasses back on to catch additional scenes from the movie.
As attendees entered room 406AB, student volunteers handed them two sheets of paper, charcoal, and a paper towel. Their purpose was later revealed when Evan Hirsch, the course leader, had attendees draw the right side of the room. The drawings were used as a tool to encourage feedback from others. Hirsch talked about the easiest ways to kill morale which included: ambiguity, subjectivity, inconsistency and thoughtlessness. When asking for feedback from peers, an artist should create a brief that defines the problem and establishes the constraints. This prevents any confusion on what aspect of the work requires feedback.
When giving feedback, be careful to be constructive and give specifics on what isn’t working; don’t just say you don’t like something. Hirsch also talked about the importance of not telling an artist how to fix the problem. Allowing them the opportunity to sort it out for themselves gives a greater sense of buy in and an opportunity to recover from their “failing.”
With these new principles in mind, Hirsch had attendees make a second drawing of the right side of the room with specific requirements in mind. It had to be a single line drawing that was fun and proportionate; the critique of the second drawing focused on whether or not the artist had fulfilled their requirements.
The Disney Pixar presentation of Brave reviewed the process of creating the movie from the original art to the CG. The film took 6 years to make and started with the artists taking advantage of the internet to do some
initial research. Later, select members of the crew made two trips to Scotland for reference; this trip armed them with approximately 10,000 reference photos that allowed them to build a richer and more exciting world.
Next, the talk delved into character development. The appearance of the characters was used to help articulate their personality and the talk focused on Merida and the Queen (also known as Mumbear). Merida in particular was designed to maintain a youthful appearance and to be very expressive. Kelly MacDonald, the voice of Merida, was studied carefully as reference because of the differences in her mouth movements due to her Scottish accent. In contrast to Merida’s free-spirited personality, the Queen’s appearance was dictated by her control. Her mannerisms are very contained and her long hair is tightly bond. These same characteristics were carried over into her behavior has a bear.
The remainder of the time was dedicated to the clothing and hair simulations, sets, and lighting the world of Brave.
The line to South Hall K stretched past the Compass Cafe and down the hall toward the West Lobby. Attendees expressed concerns about sufficient seating as they waited for the doors to open for The Avengers session.
The Avengers visual effects were a collaborative effort between Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Weta Digital. ILM started the session with the importance of the digital doubles; they had to have a great sense of realism to pass muster. The discussion moved to the changes in the Iron Man costume and continuing the tradition of finding a new way for Stark to get into his suit. The biggest challenger, however, was The Hulk. Toward that end, they used features of Mark Ruffalo’s face to help bring the character to life and mentioned that the greatest challenge was his eyes.
Weta Digital concluded the session by talking about the work that they did on the movie which included several environmental shots. They covered the importance of maintaining a sense of realism when building environments from scratch. This included being aware of how the light would interact with smoke in an explosion and the surrounding environment.
The panel’s moderator, Jason Jerald, kicked the introductions off by explaining how the panel was structured. The panelists would start with position statements, then Jason would address them with some questions, and then it would be the audience’s turn.
The first panelist introduced was Richard Marks with Sony Research and Development; he helped develop the Playstation Move system. Marks started with a recap of motion gaming at SIGGRAPH and mentioned the button vs. no button question as being more properly considered as a holding something vs. not holding something question. There are just certain motions where it is more natural to have something in hand. He also hypothesized that motion-control games will improve as developers adjust to the technology and learn to take advantage of it.
The second panelist was Brian Murphy with Microsoft; he helped develop the Kinect system. Murphy mentioned that the intent of the Kinect system was to make gaming a more social experience, much like arcades. The idea was to remove traditional barriers and invent new ways to play. He then completed his position statement with key lessons he has learned about motion gaming design.
The third panelist was Joseph LaVoila with the University of Central Florida. He talked about his academic background and mentioned that motion-control games are at a crossroads, because hardcore gamers don’t adopt the technology. He inferred that this was due to problems with the hardware and software. LaVoila then mentioned the combining of the Playstation Move and Microsoft Kinect systems to enhance the user’s experience and showed some photographic examples.
The fourth panelist was Keith Steury with Microsoft Studios User Research. He’s a Research Manager with an experimental psychology background and talked about how the technology should adapt to the user and not the other way around. He also made the point that developers should focus on what motion control is good at and presented an example of being able to simplify a game controller thanks to motion based features.
The final panelist was Amir Rubin the President and CEO of Sixense Entertainment. He focused on the best features of a controller, which included being wireless, precise with a wide range of body tracking. He concluded that a good developer will make a game that is so immersive that the user will forget about the controller.
Jerald then kicked off the questions portion of the panel.
Members of the gaming community were brought together to address some of the issues they faced during game production. Emil Persson from Avalanche Studios discussed some of the obstacles they faced when bringing the world of “Just Cause 2” to life. Some examples included shadow glitches and disk space. He then talked about the fixes that were employed to address the issues and reviewed some DOs and DON’Ts.
Caleb Howard from EA Canada focused on “Creating 300 Tracks on a 10-Track Budget.” He mentioned the tool that was developed for SSX to improve the work flow and also delved into market pressures which included creating high quality, lower cost games in less time.