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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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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Reflections of a First-Time SIGGRAPH Attendee

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Miscellaneous, SIGGRAPH 2011

I am not a computer graphics professional. In fact, my Master’s degree is actually in (gasp!) English. I appreciate the science and artistry inherent in the industry, but I will admit that when my husband gets home from work and starts talking about tessellation, I tend to go cross-eyed and start reenacting episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer inside my head.

So what am I doing at SIGGRAPH? After 13 years of the hubby’s SIGGRAPH stories (I met Gonzo! I saw Dick Van Dyke! I saw an extended trailer for that Olivia Wilde movie (otherwise known as Tron)!), I was curious to see for myself. I finally had the opportunity this year, and it was just an added bonus that this year’s conference is in the absolutely gorgeous city of Vancouver.

I kicked off my SIGGRAPH experience with the Technical Papers Fast Forward, which turned out to be an exercise in “Let’s make Mary feel really, really stupid!” (Although other attendees assured me that this session tends to have the same effect on them, as well). I pulled out a scrap of paper and kept a running tally: papers I could at least understand the basic premise of vs. papers that made me go “What???” The ratio turned out to be about 3:1 in favor of my own ignorance, but I still enjoyed the session. Lots of pretty pictures (I believe that’s the correct technical term) and interesting showmanship techniques (gorilla suit, anyone?).

The next night, I sat in on the Electronic Theater (because even an English major can enjoy watching movies!). From the clever to the creepy and everything in between, the range of storytelling and imagery was amazing. If you didn’t attend on the first night, make a point of fitting it in your schedule – you have three more chances!

So my first impression as a SIGGRAPH outsider? Let’s just say that I look forward to being further amazed/confused/intellectually humbled over the next three days.


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Day in Review: Monday

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Day in Review, SIGGRAPH 2011

Monday had a fantastic start with some interesting presentations in the Studio. The highlight of the day, however, was the keynote speaker: Cory Doctorow. He spoke about the need for reform in copyright laws.

The CAF hosted a Production Session about the visual effects of Thor and Captain America which was met with a lot of interest. The evening hours brought a lot of hard decisions for conference attendees, because there were many overlapping, amazing events, such as: the Reception, Electronic Theater, and the ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter’s Party.

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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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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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