The CAF Production Session of Killzone 3

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The “Killzone” games have come a long way in the last 10 years. The realism has improved and that is made possible by the Playstation 3 which is a more powerful console than its predecessor. Despite the more powerful machine, Guerilla Studios still faced some challenges to make sure the game was an improvement in terms of its visuals but still playable. They wanted to create the sense of a larger world, so the different levels are several times larger than those in “Killzone 2.” They also wanted to add more variety and detail, so came up with some solutions to make that possible. The game is broken up into zones so that the next zone is loading while you’re playing. Once you get into the new zone, the previous zone is dumped from memory. In terms of detail and variety, building blocks were created to allow for a variety of levels to be created more efficiently. The building blocks were also nice, because if the source block is modified, the blocks in the game were modified automatically from the source. This also made it easier if the game wasn’t running properly, because the team could check which building blocks were used the most and then optimize that block to help game play. Another technique used was the use of high resolution and low resolution meshes, the high resolution meshes were put to use when the player is up close to an area, but once they reach a specific distance away, the high resolution mesh is replaced with the low resolution version.

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The CAF Production Session: Industrial Light and Magic

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The CAF Production Session “New Solutions for New Challenges” discussed the challenges of three of their movies. They began with “Cowboys & Aliens” which had over 600 visual effects shots and was made possible with the help of 3rd party vendors. The biggest challenge was creating a realistic world with both an 1870’s western town and aliens. The design of the weapons and aliens were discussed in addition to the techniques employed on-set to maintain eye lines.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” presentation focused on the challenges presented by the mermaids, because of their continual redesign. Other challenges faced were what references to use for the movement of the mermaids and the design of the mermaid’s tail.

The main challenge from “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” was destroying Chicago; the talk focused on the best techniques to use to tear down a building.

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Day in Review: Wednesday

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Day in Review, SIGGRAPH 2011

The CAF featured two production sessions one about Rango and the other about The Smurfs. Both sessions were highly informative and were met with a lot of interest.

The Dailies were flooded with just over 1300 attendees who went to see short clips and presentations of artist’s work.

Today also marked the third showing of the Electronic Theater. Thursday is your last chance to check it out at the conference, otherwise visit SIGGRAPH Encore to purchase the footage of the conference proceedings.

The SIGGRAPH Facebook and Twitter pages held contests in honor of “Wild Wednesday” and two lucky contestants won SIGGRAPH mugs.

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Electronic Theater

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The Electronic Theater kicked off with “The ABCs of Animation,” an amusing introduction to computer animation that took viewer’s through the various stages of the film making process. The showing was a collection of humorous shorts, commercials, and gritty, thought-provoking pieces. “Hezarfen,” “Sweater Dog,” “Time for Change,” and “Flamingo Pride” had viewers laughing, while “Chernokids” left some viewers unsure how to react. Overall, the Electronic Theater was an eclectic collection that successfully kept tired attendees awake and even allowed them to preview Pixar’s new short “La Luna.”

Did you miss the opportunity to catch this year’s Electronic Theater? Then check out SVR Online! Or would you like to review the Electronic Theater from previous years? Then visit the SIGGRAPH Video Review!

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by on Aug.11, 2011, under Miscellaneous, SIGGRAPH 2011

A standing-room only crowd enjoyed SIGGRAPH Dailies! as it returned Wednesday night for its second year. Modeled after the always popular Papers Fast Forward, the program gives artists a minute each to show their animation and describe the techniques used and challenges faced in creating their work.

The 2011 program expanded upon last year’s focus on short animation segments from the major studios to include scientific visualizations, independent animations, student work, and game animation. From new fight sequences from the latest Mortal Kombat game, to visualizations of satellite paths, to hair modeling in the latest Disney animated feature, it was a fun and informative evening for everyone there!

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The CAF Production Session of The Smurfs

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The CAF Production Session “The Smurf-alution: A Half-Century of Character Development” kicked off with a brief history of the Smurfs, who first appeared in 1958 and were later brought to the United States by Hanna-Barbera. Turning the 2D world of the Smurfs into 3D presented some challenges, because their simple cartoon design didn’t hold up in the real world. They attempted to add detail for realism but found that it only made the Smurfs look creepy. After several iterations, the final design of the Smurfs was agreed upon.

After reviewing the stages of the creation of the Smurfs, the presenters reviewed their new on-set data acquisition system which is a combination of HD witness cameras, Smurf stuffies, Trimble laser scanners, and Spheron. The work on the film also lead to the creation of a new lighting pipeline; the new pipeline is highly accurate and is more closely tied to the set lighting than ever before.

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ACM SIGGRAPH Chapters Start-Up Meeting

by on Aug.11, 2011, under ACM SIGGRAPH, SIGGRAPH 2011

International Resources hosted a meeting for those interested in starting up an ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter. A key takeaway was that starting a chapter can be a bit of an undertaking and isn’t something that should be entered into lightly. (This is especially true if you’d like to be an officer of the chapter because being an officer requires membership in both ACM and ACM SIGGRAPH.) It is for this reason that finding a leadership group was recommended, because it’ll allow individuals to share the workload. The next step is to gauge interest in your area, because to get a charter, you need 10 people on the application. ACM can help with this, because if you reach out to them, an email can be forwarded to members in your area on your behalf with your contact information.

For more information on starting an ACM SIGGRAPH chapter visit:

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The CAF Production Session of Rango

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The CAF Production Session of “Getting Dirty: Bringing the Digital Feature ‘Rango’ to Life,” overlapped occasionally with the examples and anecdotes of yesterday’s Studio Talk about “Rango.” The overlap though was highly appropriate and hilarious in some instances, because both presentations shared the reference footage animator’s had filmed of themselves.

The inspiration for the characters was a combination of the voice talent and other references. Don Knotts in particular came up again as an inspiration for Rango. When it came to the voice recording process, rather than having the artists record separately, they were brought together so that they could play off each other. In fact, a lot of the movie was acted out so that they could use the footage as reference material. The footage was boiled down to a best of reel for inspiration.

“Rango” is a first for Industrial Light and Magic, because it’s their first animated feature. It is also Director Gore Verbinski’s first animated feature film. It posed some challenges, the biggest of which was creating the look of the film. The characters served as the centerpiece and there were 70 main characters who were created to be viewed up close. They also created 50 additional characters for the background. The initial 2D character designs were turned into 3D using ZBrush to give a rough idea of what they would look like in a 3D environment. The characters were built independently of one another and when they were brought together in a line up some concerns came up and some characters had to be modified. Lighting tests were also done with the characters just as they would be in a live action film.

The session continued with a discussion of the town of Dirt and the fact that they were going for a photographic look. The floor opened for Q&A and it was during this time that it came up that the entire movie was key framed.


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Day in Review: Tuesday

by on Aug.10, 2011, under Day in Review, SIGGRAPH 2011

Today’s highlight was the opening of the Exhibition floor and the Job Fair. Attendees made the rounds to collect swag and network. The Exhibition floor and Job Fair open at 9:30am tomorrow for those of you who haven’t had the chance to check it out.

Pixar had a production session on “La Luna” today. The presentation was met with a huge amount of interest and had a line that snaked around the hall.

The Art Gallery hosted a reception for artists to present their work and also give attendees the opportunity to meet the Art Gallery committee.

We ran contests today on Twitter and Facebook. Four lucky participants won t-shirts in honor of what we call “T-Shirt Tuesday.”

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Cars 2

by on Aug.10, 2011, under SIGGRAPH 2011, The Studio

The Studio Talk presentation “Tokyo Race Lighting for ‘Cars 2′” was a brief but informative session that covered the lighting strategy of the Tokyo race. The lighting strategy was broken down into four categories:

  • Diffuse lighting
  • Reflection lighting
  • Organization
  • Optimization

Diffuse lighting was further broken down into track lights, illuminated signs, and headlights. Reflection lighting was a more detailed talk focused on the importance of cutting down the render time and thus the cost. Optimization seemed especially important because it dealt with making the scene renderable and generalizing lighting techniques to create a lot of different looks efficiently.

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