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.
Registration kicked off with a line that snaked around the edge of the South Lobby. Student volunteers stood at the ready in their red vests to direct individuals to the right line as the doors opened to Petree Hall C. Attendees surged into the room, racing to collect their badges.
The SIGGRAPH Student Review also launched their Fire Sale to sell prior Computer Animation Festival Programs on DVD at greatly discounted prices. The DVDs are being sold on a first come, first serve basis until their inventory has been cleared out. Check it out, so you don’t miss out!
Only two days left until we kick off SIGGRAPH 2012! This year the conference returns to its familiar stomping grounds at the LA convention center in downtown Los Angeles. With all the recent growth around the Convention Center and Staples Center, the venue keeps getting better each year!
As always, this year’s conference has something for everyone: The Studio for the artist, Technical Papers for the seasoned professor, the Job Fair for the recent grad, and Production Sessions for the industry professional. You name it, we’ve got it! With so much going on, it’s impossible to take it all in. Stay tuned here for information on what’s happening at SIGGRAPH 2012. We have this blog, a Facebook Fan page, Twitter account, and, new this year, FourSquare and Google+ to keep you abreast of everything that’s happening. So whether you’re “Art” or “Science,” we’ll keep you up to date on all there is to see. We can’t wait to see all of you next week!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.