SIGGRAPH Venues/Programs

Talks: “Game Worlds”

by on Aug.06, 2012, under SIGGRAPH 2012, Talks

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.

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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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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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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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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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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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The CAF Production Session of Kung Fu Panda 2

by on Aug.10, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The CAF production session, “DreamWorks Animation: The Yin and Yang of Creating the Final Battle in ‘Kung Fu Panda 2,'” was designed to help people understand how the collaborative process works. The process doesn’t have a linear start to finish, instead it is a fluid process that can take filmmakers back to previous steps and back again. The session was even set up to show this process. Rather than having each presenter go in turn, they continually rotated from person to person as the creation process had. They began with the 2D art that was the initial inspiration for the final battle scene. The team then worked on coming up with different versions of how the battle scene would play out. It was during these experiments that they realized that the setting wasn’t visually interesting. The art department came up with an alternative setting which lead to redoing the already completed model of the city to add canals, in addition to going back to the story to make the appropriate changes.

The discussion continued with other considerations such as lighting, color scheme, and water interaction before going into Q&A.

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Birds of a Feather: Studio Views of Student Demo Reels

by on Aug.10, 2011, under Birds of a Feather, SIGGRAPH 2011, Students

This talk was appropriately scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Job Fair. There were three presenters, one from each of the following companies: Electronic Arts Canada, CG Scout Inc., and The Moving Picture Company (MPC).

The presenters had a lot of overlap on what they look for in a demo reel, but ¬†they did have some areas where they differed too. It is for this reason, the importance of doing your research was stressed. Before you send in your reel, be sure to find out what (if any) specific submission requirements the studio has and how best to cater to the company you are applying to. One size doesn’t not fit all when it comes to submitting your reel.

EA Canada started off the discussion with what they look for:

  • Creative originality: avoid copies of things, they want something that seems fully original
  • The “Approach:” what techniques were used/how you accomplished it
  • The “Package:” how you’ve packaged it together (like CD/DVD case), the naming conventions used and, in the case of websites, how navigable they are
  • Revelance: make sure you do your research and that your work is consistent with current industry standards
  • Honesty: your reel should reflect you and what you want to do… assuming you already know

Also, be sure you keep in mind that you have 30 seconds to hook them or they may end up fast forwarding through your reel.

CG Scout Inc. was next to speak with some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Find a mentor in your field before you start, hopefully someone who works for the company you would like to work for
  • Don’t make it gross, twisted, or sexual: this could be seen as an unfavorable reflection of you
  • A Demo Reel should be no longer than 50 seconds
  • Only show your best work, because you will be gauged on what is consider the “worst” of your reel
  • Consider the style of the studio

She then went into some specific recommendations based on the job you want, whether it’s: animating, modeling, or VFX and lighting.

The MPC began their talk by admitting much of what they look for was already mentioned so there is some consistency from company to company. But there are a few places that they differed or added onto what was already discussed:

  • Be specific with your reel, because if you send a generalist reel you may have a position offered to you doing something that you may have no interest in
  • If in doubt, leave it out
  • Stick to 2 minutes for your reel, but the first 30 seconds need to count
  • Put your name and email address at the beginning and the end to make sure it doesn’t get overlooked
  • If working with a reference object, show the reference and then your work. This shows how realistic your work can be
  • Thoughts on music is dependent on the studio, just make sure to avoid anything that can be considered offensive
  • Check in on your reel, but don’t stalk
  • Reapply once every six months or when you have something substantially different
  • Don’t take it personally if you don’t make the cut– timing is everything!

Finally, be sure to do your research and know your market. There are 18,000 graduates a year in Canada alone; the one thing that can set you apart is your talent.

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E-Tech and Art Gallery

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Art Gallery & E-Tech, SIGGRAPH 2011



The Art Gallery’s theme this year is Tracing Home which is a presentation of “exceptional digital and technologically mediated artworks that explore issues related to the concept of home in the networked age.”




Emerging Technologies features a wide range of work from being able to experience pregnancy with a fetal movement simulator to a MoleBot.




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