ACM SIGGRAPHia

SIGGRAPH Venues/Programs

Electronic Theater Opens

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival kicked off another great year on Monday, culminating in the premier of the 2011 Electronic Theater. The annual showcase of the very best in computer animation includes over thirty selections of student work, animated shorts, commercials, and samplings of the year’s very best visual effects work. Among the animations are this year’s award winners: Paths of Hate (Jury Prize), The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (Best in Show), and Flamingo Pride (Best Student Project). If you didn’t make it to Monday’s screening, don’t worry, you have three more opportunities: Tuesday and Wednesday night at 6:00pm and Thursday at 10am. You don’t want to miss one of the highlights of the conference and don’t forget to stick around after the credits for a special late addition from Pixar!

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The CAF Production Session: So Different Yet So Marvel

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

Today in Ballroom C/D, attendees gathered to catch the production session titled “The Visual Effects of Thor and Captain America: So Different Yet So Marvel.” The session kicked off with the inspiration for Asgard which is a melding of capturing the mood of Asgard in the comic’s art, using classic fine art imagery and science fiction references. It then transitioned into both the challenges and opportunities of creating a great establishing shot. This poses a challenge because you have to create a fully developed world from buildings to inhabitants whether it’s something the audience ever sees or not. The establishing shot message came up again later with Captain America and the 1940s Brooklyn setting. The panel hopscotched from Visual Effects Supervisor to Visual Effects Supervisor as they covered the techniques used to make CG blend well with live action. A key example of this, is “Skinny Steve” in Captain America; actor Chris Evans is a large man and it was a bit of a challenge to make his smaller counterpart in the movie while still keeping Chris Evan’s performance (rather than a digi-double).

The session made it more apparent than ever that creating movies is a huge collaborative effort. One fact in particular brought this to the forefront: over 13 companies worked on the visual effects for Captain America.

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Keynote: Cory Doctorow

by on Aug.08, 2011, under Keynote Speaker, SIGGRAPH 2011

Today’s Keynote presentation opened with 2011 Conference Chair Pete Braccio greeting attendees and highlighting many of the volunteers who helped make this year’s conference possible. After remarks from SIGGRAPH President Jeff Jortner and ACM President Alain Chesnais, attention turned to the presentation of this year’s ACM SIGGRAPH Awards. Awards were presented to Charles Csuri (Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art), Olga Sorkine (Significant New Researcher), Richard Szeliski (Computer Graphics Achievement Award), and Jim Kajiya (Steven Anson Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics).

Once the awards presentation was complete it was time for this year’s keynote speaker, Cory Doctorow. Mr. Doctorow is a contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and Wired, as well as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He spoke at length about the current state of copyright law, how it is used by governments and corporations, and its effect on content creators including authors and digital artists. Following the keynote he answered questions from the audience and did a book signing in the SIGGRAPH Bookstore.

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The Studio Talks

by on Aug.08, 2011, under SIGGRAPH 2011, The Studio

First thing this morning The Studio hosted two back-to-back talks. The first was Pixar’s presentation of “New and Used Cars” and the second was ILM’s presentation of “The Spirit of ‘Rango:’ Dissection of Character Animation and Rigging.”

New and Used Cars

The Studio Talk started off with funny tidbits about each of the presenters, which seems to be an ongoing theme for the Talks. The presentation focused on the shading techniques developed for Cars 2 to help reduce render time and expense. The team made three advancements:

  1. Layer consolidation method
  2. Metallic flakes
  3. Circular scratches

With the layer consolidation method, the team was able to collapse the layers and keep their parameters. This allowed them to reduce render time 17% with only small differences between renders that were consolidated and non-consolidated. The metallic flakes section focused heavily on the math and some of the criteria for the shader. The final segment was regarding circular scratches. The key takeaway is that they aren’t circular. The texture is directional and more of a line that when applied circles around the center of the highlight.

The Spirit of “Rango”

This presentation was met with a lot of interest and quickly turned into standing room only. As a refresher, the movie’s trailer was shown first. Then the ILM team went into some of the differences of animated features versus live action movies:

  • Everything is virtual
  • Asset management (assets can be tracked easily during any time in the process)
  • Performance vs. interaction
  • Rig Complexity

After giving the overview of the differences, they moved onto getting the characters from concept to animation ready. This section naturally transitioned into their procedural rigging program, Block Party, which uses standard blocks for all base rigs. This system made it easier to share animations between models, which in turn made it easier to animate so many characters.

The discussion moved onto proprietary plug-ins, facial rigging, and the animation tools used. Then Kevin Martel, the lead animator of Rango (the character), went over the character development process. This process includes getting to know the character as though he/she is a real person; this makes animating them easier because it gives insight into what their mannerisms might be like. The team had some required movie viewing for inspiration for Rango who is more like Don Knotts than a chameleon. This in addition to performance references from Johnny Depp and the animators helped bring Rango to life.

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OpenGL Course Back and Better Than Ever

by on Aug.07, 2011, under Courses, SIGGRAPH 2011

A SIGGRAPH Course staple helped kick off the conference this year in an updated form. The long running “Introduction to OpenGL” course (now “Introduction to Modern OpenGL Programming”) has been revamped to cover the latest advances in the premiere 3D API. The content was appropriate for both new developers interested in learning about developing interactive 3D applications, as well as experienced developers looking to update their skills with modern techniques. The material covered included the updated OpenGL pipeline and how it differed from the original fixed-function pipeline first developed in the early 90’s, a simple OpenGL application, viewing and modeling transformations, vertex and fragment shaders, and texture mapping. Attendees came away with a great start on developing their own 3D software projects.

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International Game Developers Association (IGDA)

by on Aug.07, 2011, under International Resources Events, SIGGRAPH 2011, Students

International Resources hosted the IGDA to speak about their Global Game Jam. The IGDA is the largest non-profit organization serving individuals that create video games. IGDA’s Global Game Jam is a 48 hour event where people around the world come together to make games. And games can be anything from non-digital (like card and board games) to digital (like phone or computer based games).

In addition to the Global Game Jam, the IGDA touched on its Scholars Program. The program is designed to get students and industry professionals together. The IGDA also offers a Leadership Forum for industry professionals who would like to learn how tolead a team.

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The Studio

by on Aug.07, 2011, under SIGGRAPH 2011, The Studio

The Studio opened its doors today at noon. To kick off the opening, there was a roundtable chat that explored the past, present, and future of digital technologies. The moderator for the chat was none other than our keynote speaker: Cory Doctorow. The chat filled the available seating and had some attendees standing watch. In addition to the Studio Presentation, the Studio also kicked off its Workshops. If you’d like to get your hands on the Studio’s Presentation and Workshop schedules, you’ll find Student Volunteers in red vests passing them out near the entrance.

Computers are set up for workshop participants in addition to having various companies present to show off their wares.  There is also an “electronic crafts” area where people can let their creative side out while also creating electronic masterpieces.

Come check out The Studio in West Building, Ballroom A. It’s open from 9am to 530pm except for Thursday when it closes at 1pm.

 

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Technical Program Starts Today!

by on Aug.07, 2011, under Courses, SIGGRAPH 2011, Technical Papers

Welcome to the first day of SIGGRAPH 2011!

The technical program kicks off today with Courses and Talks at 2:00pm. Whether you want to learn more about the latest techniques for game interactions or visual effects or the basics of modern graphics software development, there’s a course for you this afternoon. If you’d like insight into the cutting edge of graphics research, head over to Talks. The Talks program opens the week with “Pushing Production Data” and “Facing Hairy Production Problems.”

Finally, tonight at 6:00pm is the always popular Papers Fast Forward! Come for a fast and fun preview of the 80+ papers in the conference. You won’t want to miss it!

 

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SV Orientation

by on Aug.07, 2011, under SIGGRAPH 2011, Students

Student Volunteer (SV) Orientation kicked off just after 4pm on Saturday. For those of you unfamiliar with the SV program, it’s designed to get students involved in the conference by making it more affordable. Maya Karp, the SV Chair for 2011, made a brief introduction before playing a video to introduce the SV Committee and Team Leaders. It was hilarious and indicative of the Chair’s (and her team’s) fun-loving nature.

Pete Braccio, the conference chair, made a small statement on what the conference’s theme means to him before introducing the various committee chairs. Pete also made the SVs aware of how many committee members started off in the SV program… Quite a few of them as a matter of fact. Some have made this conference their home as this year’s theme “Make It Home” indicates and have volunteeredfor years.

After the committee members left, the SV Committee went over the FAQs for the SV program.

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