31 July 2011

SIGGRAPH Art Gallery Unveils Event Line-Up

The SIGGRAPH Art Gallery released its line-up for events during conference week.

The theme for this year is "Tracing Home" and the following is Mona Kasra's [the SIGGRAPH 2011 Art Gallery chair] vision statement for the content:

"In the era of networked technology, the interplay of physical and virtual within our lived experience opens up portals and wormholes enabling simultaneous and discontinuous realities at the touch of a button, echo of a voice, or nudge of a sensor. The new dynamics not only reconfigures our relations with ourselves and with one another, but most importantly, it reshapes our sense of identity, belonging, and place. The SIGGRAPH 2011 Art Gallery: Tracing Home, presents exceptional digital and technologically mediated artworks that explore issues related to the concept of home in the networked age."

Listed below is a guide to the week's activities:

Reception: Leonardo, Art Papers, and Art Gallery
TUESDAY, 9 AUGUST 2-3:30 PM | Art Gallery
Experience "home" in the networked age. Talk with the artists, designers, and Art Papers authors about their work. And meet the members of the SIGGRAPH 2011 committee who organized this year's Art Gallery.

Daily Art Tours
MONDAY, 8 AUGUST - WEDNESDAY, 10 August, 1-1:30 pm
Members of the Art Galley committee offer 30-minute guided tours to introduce visitors to Tracing Home and some of the specific artworks displayed in the exhibition. The daily tours begin in the Art Gallery.

Informal Art Talks
Tracing Home participating artists casually explain and discuss their works, process, and ideas . These talks are followed by short Q & A sessions and an opportunity to meet and chat with the artists. All talks are presented in the Art Gallery.

Monday, 8 August
4-4:20 pm
Anya Belkina
Emerson College

4:20-4:40 pm
Travel Stones
Jacquelyn Martino
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

4:40-5 pm
The Insatiable
Jawshing Arthur Liou
Indiana University

Tuesday, 9 August
4-4:20 pm
The Garden of Error and Decay
Michael Bielicky
Kamila B. Richter
HFG/ZKM Karlsruhe

4:20-4:40 pm
tele-present wind
David Bowen
University of Minnesota

4:40-5 pm
0h!m1gas: biomimetic stridulation environment
Kuai Shen Auson
Academy of Media Arts Cologne

Wednesday, 10 August
4-4:20 pm
Open House
Patrick LeMieux
Duke University

Jack Stenner
University of Florida

4:20-4:40 pm
Julie Andreyev
Simon Overstall
Emily Carr University of Art + Design

4:40-5 pm
Third Skin
Andrea Zapp
Manchester Metropolitan University

Here are links to the 2011 Art Gallery Video Preview and Podcasts [available in multiple languages]. A guided Media Tour will be available on Tuesday, 9 August, at 3:30pm. Sign up for the tour in the Media Office on-site.

22 July 2011

Jon Peddie Research Releases Analysis on Computer Graphics Industry

**The overall CG market will exceed $100 billion in 2014**

**Industry enjoys 7% growth for past five years**

The computer graphics (CG) industry has been a growth industry since it was established the late 1970s. Weathering the storms of the recession of 2009, the CG industry is back on track and showing new invigorated vitality and potential.

The CG hardware market was worth $53 billion in 2010 and should exceed $67 billion in 2011. The market for CG software was worth $13 billion in 2010 (not counting services, maintenance and other aspects). CG software is expected to grow to $14.8 billion in 2011 as the industry shakes off the remaining effects of the recession and customers start replacing software tools.

As a result of the pull back due to the recession, more people will be buying computer graphics software programs and we will see the development of traditional segments like CAD/CAM expand as new design approaches in automotive, aerospace, and architecture are brought forth. Visualization, a market that has been almost dormant for the past few years is poised now for great expansion due to exciting and lower cost technologies.

There is considerable opportunity for computer graphics software on several fronts. The tools for making movies is the highest profile market but it represents a very modest proportion of the total market. Design tools, game development, manufacturing, and scientific visualization are much larger markets and there is a great deal of opportunity as these markets adapt to changes in mobile devices, and take advantage of the vast compute power in the cloud. There has been a bubbling up of interest in computer graphics tools for mainstream and hobbyist users. It is still a tiny proportion of the overall market, but this too is an area where Jon Peddie Research is seeing intriguing product development and growth.

Over the course of the next five years, we will see the effects and tools used in filmmaking extend to much larger markets for small production houses, independent filmmakers, and even enthusiast/hobbyists. Game development will shift to accommodate new game platforms including mobile devices. And, most exciting, we expect to see a resurgence for imaging, vector graphics, and desktop publishing as new distribution models enable new business models for the publishing industry.

The demand for programmers, artists, scientists, and designers has picked up again and firms are actively looking for people who can use and exploit these new programs and their associated hardware accelerators. The economic recession has caused a slow down but it’s going to look like a small bump in the road by 2014.

Given these trends, Jon Peddie Research expects the rate of growth continuing to grow.

Exhibitor Tech Talks Schedule Announced

At the SIGGRAPH 2011 Exhibitor Tech Talks, attendees are able to get the inside story direct from the commercial developers of tomorrow's hot hardware, software, and systems. Benefits include question-and-answer exchanges and one-on-one conversations with the speakers after each presentation. All talks will be given on the Exhibition Floor in Booth #801

Following is the current line-up for Vancouver:

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
Tuesday, 9 August 11:15 am - 12:15 pm
Video Processing With AMD FirePro Solutions

PC architecture and graphics-processing units have become ubiquitous in broadcast and post-production workflows. This talk reviews the types of processing and rendering that the GPU excels at and illuminates some of the emerging trends for tightening GPU integration into these workflows.

DigiPen Institute of Technology
Tuesday, 9 August 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm
The Academic Infrastructure of Innovative and Successful Video Games

A detailed look at the academic infrastructure of interactive media technologies and the special emphasis placed on incorporating innovative game design and gameplay mechanics to make video games highly successful and marketable.

The Bakery
Tuesday, 9 August 3:45 pm - 4:40 pm
Bakery Relight: Interactive Lighting, Shading, and Rendering for Pros

Designed for the high-end feature film, television, industrial, automotive, and architectural design industries, Bakery Relight is the first interactive, all-in-one lighting, shading, and rendering solution. Born out of years of hands-on experience on top-grossing feature films, Relight supports the lighters’ and shaders’ iterative process with full-resolution feedback in seconds.

Wednesday, 10 August 9:45 am - 10:45 am
Physics-Based Virtual Reality

Thanks to their unique physics-based approach, OPTIS light-simulation specialists provide real-time, predictive visualization solutions based on measured physical properties of surfaces and materials. OPTIS solutions are used by engineers, ergonomists, and designers to optimize perceived quality and the visual ergonomics of HMIs.

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
Wednesday, 10 August 11:15 am - 12:15 pm
OpenCL and OpenGL/DirectX Interoperability

The computing power of GPUs is now accessible to improve the interactivity of 3D graphics. Leveraging this capability requires optimum interoperability between compute (OpenCL) and graphics APIs (OpenGL/DirectX). This talk demonstrates how to compute and update geometry with OpenCL on APUs, how to update VBO on discrete GPUs, and how to compute physics data on OpenCL and transfer those data to discrete GPUs.

Autodesk, Inc.
Wednesday, 10 August 12:45 pm - 1:45 pm
Multi-Threaded 2D Renderer Design

Rendering real-time high-quality 2D vector graphics through a 3D pipeline is a challenging task that requires custom algorithms for shape tessellation, edge anti-aliasing, and text rendering. For best performance, Scaleform 2D renderer includes optimizations such as multi-threaded rendering, mesh caching, and draw-primitive batching. Following a high-level design description, this talk dives into multi-threaded rendering, introducing a novel render-tree design that allows the both threads to access scene graph nodes simultaneously, greatly reducing copy overhead. This strategy is particularly effective when only a subset of nodes is modified every frame and can be applied to any real-time rendering engine.

Xsens Technologies B.V.
Wednesday, 10 August 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm
How Much Animation Can You Do in a Day?

This talk shows how to speed up your pipeline with the Xsens MVN animation tool. It also explains how to record a motion, edit the motion, and insert it into a scene in no time, or even real time, using the Xsens MVN system.

Organic Motion
Wednesday, 10 August 3:45 pm - 4:40 pm
Organic Motion Unveils the Latest Developments in Next-Generation Computer Vision

Preview the building blocks of the latest human-computer interaction.

19 July 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Game Industry Content Summary

The following is a roundup of all content at SIGGRAPH 2011 originating from the game industry as compiled by Naty Hoffman, SIGGRAPH 2011 Game Development Community Director from Activision Studio Central.

From Naty, "Please note that this content originating from the game industry is not the same as 'content of interest to game developers', which is a much larger set. Also note that I have taken a fairly strict definition of “game industry” - basically a studio that develops games, or a research group belonging to a game publisher."

SIGGRAPH 2011 has content from 30 game development studios:
  • Advanced Technology Group (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe)
  • Avalanche Software (Disney Interactive Studios)
  • Avalanche Studios
  • Black Rock Studio (Disney Interactive Studios)
  • Blizzard
  • Bungie
  • CCP Games Iceland
  • CCP Games Newcastle
  • Criterion Games (Electronic Arts)
  • Crytek
  • Disney Interactive Research
  • Double Fine
  • Electronic Arts Black Box
  • Electronic Arts Canada
  • Electronic Arts Montréal
  • Electronic Arts Tiburon
  • Epic Games
  • Evolution Studios (Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Frontier Developments
  • Guerrilla Games (Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Kalloc Studios
  • LucasArts
  • Media Molecule (Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • NetherRealm Studios (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Q-Games
  • Remedy Entertainment
  • SCE Santa Monica Studio
  • Treyarch (Activision Blizzard)
  • Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Valve
Please note: If the studio is owned by a publisher and it’s not clear from the studio name which (for example, “SCE” = “Sony Computer Entertainment”), then the publisher’s name is listed in parenthesis. Publisher-owned central R&D groups are listed as studios. When the work described was done at a previous place of employment of the author or presenter, that place of employment is listed instead of their current affiliation.

SIGGRAPH 2011 game industry content covers 25 games titles:
  • Alan Wake
  • Battlefield 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Costume Quest
  • Cars 2: The Video Game
  • Crysis 2
  • EA Sports MMA
  • EVE Online
  • From Dust
  • God of War III
  • Halo: Reach
  • Killzone 3
  • Kinectimals
  • LittleBigPlanet 2
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Motorstorm Apocalypse
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
  • Need for Speed the Run
  • PixelJunk Shooter 2
  • Portal 2
  • Split/Second
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2
  • The Saboteur
  • World of Warcraft
The lists below break out all the game industry content by program. First the title of the content (course/talk/paper etc.) is listed, then the studio name (as in the studio list above), and finally (in parenthesis) the game title which the content is focused on. If the content is not focused on any specific game title, (#) is used.

  • Advances in Real-Time Rendering in Games Part I: Bungie (Halo: Reach), Avalanche Software/Disney Interactive Studios (Cars 2: The Video Game), Crytek (Crysis 2), Media Molecule/Sony Computer Entertainment (LittleBigPlanet 2)
  • Advances in Real-Time Rendering in Games Part II: Electronic Arts Montréal* (Battlefield 3), Electronic Arts Black Box (Need for Speed the Run), Treyarch/Activision (Call of Duty: Black Ops), CCP Games Newcastle (#), SCE Santa Monica Studio (God of War III), Electronic Arts Canada (#)
  • Filtering Approaches for Real-Time Anti-Aliasing: Double Fine (Costume Quest), SCE Santa Monica Studio (God of War III), Advanced Technology Group/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (#), Kalloc Studios (The Saboteur), CCP Games Newcastle (#), Avalanche Studios (#), LucasArts (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2), Crytek (Crysis 2)
  • Beyond Programmable Shading Part I: Disney Interactive Research (#)
  • Character Rigging, Deformations, and Simulations in Film and Game Production: Electronic Arts Canada (#)
  • Destruction and Dynamics for Film and Game Production: Avalanche Software/Disney Interactive (#)
* - Presenter is from Electronic Arts Montréal, but Battlefield 3 was developed by DICE.

  • Making Faces: Eve Online’s New Portrait Rendering: CCP Games Iceland (EVE Online)
  • MotorStorm Apocalypse: Creating Urban Off-Road Racing: Evolution Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment (Motorstorm Apocalypse)
  • Spherical Skinning With Dual Quaternions and QTangents: Crytek (Crysis 2)
  • Rendering the Interactive Dynamic Natural World of the Game: From Dust: Ubisoft Montpellier (From Dust)
  • Deferred Shading Techniques Using Frostbite in Need for Speed The Run: Electronic Arts Black Box (Need for Speed: The Run)
  • Animation Workflow in Killzone 3: A Fast Facial Retargeting System for Game Characters: Guerrilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment (Killzone 3)
  • Occlusion Culling in Alan Wake: Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake)
  • Increasing Scene Complexity: Distributed Vectorized View Culling: Electronic Arts Black Box (Need for Speed: The Run)
  • Practical Occlusion Culling in Killzone 3: Guerrilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment (Killzone 3)
  • High-Quality Previewing of Shading and Lighting for Killzone 3: Guerrilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment (Killzone 3)
  • Run-Time Implementation of Modular Radiance Transfer: Disney Interactive Research (Split/Second)
  • Fluid Dynamics and Lighting Implementation in PixelJunk Shooter 2: Q-Games (PixelJunk Shooter 2)
Technical Papers:
  • Physics-Inspired Upsampling for Cloth Simulation in Games: Disney Interactive Research (#)
  • Character Shading in EA Sports MMA Using Projected Poisson-Disk-Based Ambient Occlusion: Electronic Arts Tiburon (EA Sports MMA)
SIGGRAPH Dailies!:
  • Mortal Kombat X-Ray Attacks: NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Mortal Kombat)
  • God of War 3: Chimaera Tail Swipe Attack: SCE Santa Monica Studio (God of War III)
  • God of War 3 Poseidon Creature Boss Fight: SCE Santa Monica Studio (God of War III)
Computer Animation Festival:
Electronic Theater
  • Halo Reach: Bungie (Halo: Reach)
  • Portal 2: Turrets: Valve (Portal 2)
Screening - Commercials, Games, and Music
  • Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice: Valve (Left 4 Dead 2)
  • Portal 2: Bot Trust: Valve (Portal 2)
  • Portal 2: Turrets: Valve (Portal 2)
  • World of Warcraft: Catacysm Intro: Blizzard (World of Warcraft)
* Please note that game cinematics not made by the game’s developer aren’t counted.

Production Sessions:
  • Guerrilla: The Creation of Killzone 3: Guerrilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment (Killzone 3)
Real-Time Live!:
  • Kinectimals: Frontier Developments (Kinectimals)
  • A Look Under the Hood of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit: Criterion Games/Electronic Arts (Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit)
  • Samaritan Real-Time Demo: Epic Games (#)
The Sandbox:
  • A Look Under the Hood of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit: Criterion Games/Electronic Arts (Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit)
  • Alan Wake: Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake)
  • Bring the Storm to the Apocalypse: Evolution Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment (Motorstorm Apocalypse)
  • Killzone 3: Guerrilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment (Killzone 3)
  • Kinectimals: Frontier Developments (Kinectimals)
The Studio:
Studio Workshops
  • Introduction to Python Scripting: Crytek (Crysis 2)
  • Rigging Characters for CryEngine: Crytek (Crysis 2)
  • World Creation in CryEngine: Crytek (Crysis 2)
Emerging Technologies:
  • Surround Haptics: Sending Shivers Down Your Spine: Black Rock Studio/Disney Interactive Studios (Split/Second)
International Resources Events:
The IGDA Presents Game Jam!: IGDA (#)

14 July 2011

Interview With SIGGRAPH 2011 The Studio Chair: Chris Williams

Following is a brief conversation with Chris Williams, The Studio Chair from Knowledge Adventure! (pictured at right).

He currently is their Creative Director and attended the University of California, Riverside.

For someone who is new to SIGGRAPH, what should they expect from their Studio experience this

This year is going to be spectacular! It is all about D.I.Y. wrapped in a Steampunk theme. The Studio has always been about getting hands-on experience with all types of equipment that one may not normally encounter in their daily lives. This year we took it a step further by focusing on cool technology and techniques that anyone could do themselves. One doesn’t need a $250,000 3D printer for rapid prototyping; you can start experimenting with something such as a $1,200 Makerbot. Since it comes in kit form, it allows for complete understanding of the technology during the construction process. It is great to discover that technology isn’t magic hidden behind a black box. Anyone can have access to it.

Not only does The Studio have some of the coolest toys at SIGGRAPH, but we also have some amazingly creative people. We have individuals from all over the world and from every discipline who are passionate about teaching and collaborating with other creative individuals. The Studio is the prefect venue for large exchanges of ideas.

When did you first come to SIGGRAPH and what specifically clicked in your brain that it was a good fit?

I first came to SIGGRAPH over 10 years ago when it was in Los Angeles. I was in awe with the assemblage of so many creative people in one place. I thought I found seventh heaven when I stumbled on the Studio. It was full of wonderful technology that attendees could use, experiment with, and learn on. There was the latest software, futuristic hardware, and a creative buzz that filled the air. I found that I was signing up for every workshop possible and ended up spending almost all of my time at SIGGRAPH there. I have never left.

How will it be the same or different from prior years?

The Studio will always be based on a “hands-on” area where technology is fueled by fun creative energy. This year is no exception! We have a host of donated equipment and software that attendees can try out, learn about and experiment with. The main difference this year is that we were heavily involved with the Unified Jury. It was a great experience to review and select projects, talks and workshops that would best fit inside The Studio. Along with curated venues, the juried selections promise to bring incredible talent together and a sharing of ideas.
What is one … or a few …. of the most special aspects of The Studio to you personally?

The Studio volunteers as well as the presenters! Each year, I love returning to SIGGRAPH, The Studio and working with, problem-solving with, creating with, such talented people. It really is like returning home and seeing old friends and family. Everyone who volunteers their time, equipment, and software really cares about teaching and sharing with others new technology and ideas. That is pretty special. That is SIGGRAPH.

Past attendees’ comments mentioned that the Studio atmosphere was a bit chaotic, how have you tried to address that this year?

What is great about The Studio is that it is always a bit chaotic. Even with all of the endless hours of planning, most of the donations and workshops aren’t finalized till the 11th hour. It should be commended the amount of corporate wrangling and solicitation it takes to host The Studio. Most of everything at The Studio is donated and all the time is volunteered. With that said, each year we outline new pipelines and procedures that will make for a more organized attendee experience.

Participating in the formalized venue of the Unified Jury was a monumental step in better organization. This year we have also tried to create a layout that allows for easy flow-through of traffic while encouraging exploration of each venue. Regardless, The Studio will be a fest for the mind.

What are some of the things you are most excited about in the Studio?

I am usually excited about getting “hands-on” experience with the latest technology and software. I look forward each year to which new 3D printer will be available or newest motion capture technique that will be in The Studio. This year, I am really looking forward to all of the great talks and presentations in The Studio!

I am incredibly excited that we will be starting off The Studio with the highly anticipated roundtable talk with Cory Doctorow moderating! We then continue the week will all sorts of industry talks, creative talks, hands on presentations, and fun workshops. I like that The Studio talks and presentations are a little more personal. Instead of being in a giant room with an industry legend on some tall far-away edifice, attendees are up close and personal and can ask questions. It is a little more interactive than just spectating.

What drew you to volunteer to be considered as The Studio Chair this year?

I wanted to give back! For years, The Studio has provided numerous techniques and experiences that I have been able to use in my professional life. I have learned many methods in The Studio and applied them in creating our company’s video games. Besides the obvious tips and tricks for 3D modeling and animation, there have been many non-obvious ones which include large format printing for advertising, pre-press printing and color correction for retail venues as well as lenticular imaging to showcase our 3D products. Because of the SIGGRAPH Studio, I was able to bring additional value to my company and colleagues. I find it an honor and privilege if I can help and teach others so they can benefit from the same experience.

On a personal level you have managed to stay with the same company for 16 years - which is rare in any industry – what makes it such a good fit and how have you done it?

I love the company that I work for, Knowledge Adventure! The company has been around for about 20 years during which it merged with Davidson and Blizzard (way before WOW) which then was acquired by Cendant, Havas, and finally Vivendi/Universal. I have had the benefit of working on all types of titles, licenses, and art styles. The work is hard, but we also play hard. The office is full of toys and we shoot Nerf guns at each other everyday. I have a great and incredibly talented team whom I would go through the "Gates of Hell" with.

We noticed you have an inspiration for talking spirits and skateboards, please elaborate on that interesting combination.

Creating Ouija boards and skateboards is a direct result of The Studio. While SIGGRAPH was in San Diego, a laser engraver was donated to The Studio and I fell in love with the sheer potential of the machine. For the next couple of months, I saved my pennies (lots) and bought my own laser. I liked the detail that the laser could give me so I wanted to produce art with incredibly intricate designs that I could combine with woodworking. The spirit boards came out of my fascination with the Victorian Era and the skateboards from growing up in California. I never would have been creating these boards without the experience gained from The Studio.

[Editor's note: Image on the left is one of his creations.]

Sources tell us that you have a particular passion for Circus Peanuts, any validity to this rumor?
I love Circus Peanuts and will consume about a bag a day. I use them as mini-brain batteries (in fact, I just ate four so I could write this :). I am naturally spastic, but I don’t think the “Peanuts” help matters. I love the taste, texture, and that they are a “fat free candy.” It is a “win – win”. The love is probably more about their texture as I dislike “peeps” and regular marshmallows (mushy).

The best is when someone tries them. It only happens once! They twist their faces up as soon as the sugar overload hits them (amateurs). They usually only finish half which usually means “more for me.”

Fun fact – When they were designing Lucky Charms, they first used bits of Circus Peanuts for the marshmallow addition. It was a success as they took longer to get soggy in milk. The rest is history. I also like Lucky Charm marshmallows but they are too small and too hard to get a good mouthful.

Usually when I say that I eat lots of circus peanuts, people often conclude it is the nutritious natural nut not a big squishy orange facsimile of a peanut. It’s like a cartoon peanut and that makes me happy.

Finally, to achieve your personal “Mission Accomplished” for The Studio in 2011, what would you hope attendees feel as they look back on their Studio experiences?

I would hope that attendees feel that they experienced many new and interesting technologies and techniques which they could bring back to their place of work and share with colleagues. In addition, I hope that they are inspired both technically and creatively by the workshops, sessions, presentations, and the people. I figure if they can take away a useful experience or technique that they can apply to their daily lives, then we have been successful.

[Editor's note: The Studio is packed with content including Studio Workshops, Digital Artistry Sessions, and Studio Talks. Attendees are encouraged to plan in advance as there will be limited capacity.]

13 July 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Computer Animation Festival: From Game Content to Major Hollywood Films

The SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival has a long history of presenting a variety of the world's most innovative, accomplished, and amazing creators of digital gaming, film, and video. The Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver, 7-11 August 2011, provides a personal viewing experience unlike any other. In addition to film screenings, the Festival includes interactive sessions and exclusive learning opportunities to gain industry secrets and advice from some of the most successful professionals in the field.

“Once again, the content in the Computer Animation Festival offers something of interest to just about everyone – from industry newbies to veterans,” said Joshua Grow, Computer Animation Festival Director from The Creative-Cartel. "The content ranges from commercials to gaming. It is truly the year’s unique opportunity to hear directly from the best in the business. It should prove to be educational and inspirational.”

Listed below are just a few of the learning opportunities during the Computer Animation Festival:

Production Sessions
Production Sessions are high-level discussions that showcase the computer animation and visual effects in some of the Computer Animation Festival's most provocative works. SIGGRAPH 2011 featured Production Sessions include:

The Visual Effects of "Thor" and "Captain America": So Different Yet So Marvel
Marvel Studios devotes great time and effort to deliver great great storytelling, strong visuals, and compelling characters to movie audiences. This session compares the films "Thor" and "Captain America" and shows how visual effects are a critical aesthetic ingredient in their success. Visual effects supervisors Wesley Sewell and Christopher Townsend and their teams from Digital Domain, Double Negative, Whiskytree, Luma Pictures, and Lola VFX review how the films combine beauty and authenticity.

Pixar: "La Luna"

Enrico Casarosa, Pixar Animation Studios
"La Luna" is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat, they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family's most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions? Following the Canadian premiere screening of "La Luna", its director, Enrico Casarosa, discusses the journey that led him to create this very personal short and demonstrates the singularly artistic style by which the film was crafted.

DreamWorks Animation: The Yin and Yang of Creating the Final Battle in “Kung Fu Panda 2”
The climax of the CG-animated movie “Kung Fu Panda 2” is an epic battle featuring a flotilla of boats, an ancient Chinese-styled city, thousands of wolves armed for battle, action featuring hundreds of characters in a single shot, stylized graphic lighting, fantastical cannon fire and explosions, and a set of effects-supported Kung Fu moves. This talk provides a unique insight into the making of a CG-animated movie that goes beyond the traditional idealized concept of the pipeline.

Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Getting Dirty: Bringing the Digital Feature “Rango” to Life
This in-depth discussion focuses on the production of Industrial Light & Magic’s first animated feature “Rango”. ILM’s unique approach to the genre brings a new dimension to the animated feature, giving “Rango” the visceral quality that the company is best known for in its visual effects work. The presenters review all aspects of the work from initial asset development through animation, simulation, lighting, and compositing.

Imageworks: The Smurf-alution: A Half-Century of Character Development
Sony Pictures Imageworks animation supervisor Troy Saliba and leading members of their Vancouver animation team take the Smurfs from the most primitive pencil sketch to a contemporary 3D stereo rendering.

Industrial Light & Magic: New Solutions for New Challenges
The Industrial Light & Magic team delves into the effects created for three of 2011’s largest summer films, dissecting the challenges and revealing their solutions. The panel breaks down the visual effects challenges presented on this year’s slate of films including: “Cowboys & Aliens”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”.

Guerrilla: The Creation of Killzone 3 - Game Production Session
This talk details various aspects of designing and developing videogames at Guerrilla. It highlights methods that are very similar to methods used in the CGI industry, and it illuminates some of the most important differences. And it covers the complete breadth of videogame development from artistic design to production pipelines and tool and engine development.

Real-Time Live!

This program showcases the latest trends and best techniques for pushing the boundaries of interactive visuals in video games and real-time simulations. To help emphasize the difference between these works and pre-rendered works, real-time pieces are demonstrated live on their actual platforms without any post-production. Each live presentation lasts less than five minutes in a fast-paced, 45-minute show of diverse and aesthetically stimulating work. SIGGRAPH 2011 Real-Time Live! highlights include:

Chrysaora: WebGL Jellyfish Simulation

Savannah College of Art and Design
Chrysaora is a real-time jellyfish simulation created entirely with web technologies such as JavaScript, WebGL, WebSockets, and CSS. It uses realistic rendering and simulation techniques similar to those used in modern 3D video games, but it can run in an internet browser on any operating system.

Enlighten Real-Time Radiosity
Geomerics Ltd.
Using Geomerics Enlighten technology, this demo shows how dynamic real-time lighting enhances game play and visual quality in computer games. Enlighten is a cross-platform, real-time radiosity solution that can generate bounce lighting for a game level in a fraction of a frame.

Samaritan Real-Time Demo
Epic Games Inc.
Samaritan is a real-time demonstration of the latest Unreal Engine 3 technology that shows off DirectX 11 support and DirectX features such as tessellation and displacement mapping, geometry shaders, multi-sampled textures, and Shader Model 5. High-end rendering enhancements include image-based reflections, Bokeh depth of field, subsurface scattering, anti-aliased masked materials, deferred rendering with MSAA support, and high-quality dynamic shadows.

iMedic: Immersive Medical Environment for Distributed Interactive Consultation
Digital Artforms, Inc.
This interactive medical visualization system is based on two hand-held tracked controllers that directly control the position and orientation of two 3D cursors. Button presses enable direct manipulation of space with either or both hands, resulting in intuitive manipulation of the viewpoint. You can place yourself anywhere at any orientation and at any scale with just a few simple gestures.

RealD Presents 3D Day
The Computer Animation Festival also features an entire day highlighting the enormously popular growth of 3D in movies, including an introduction to 3D by 3ality and an excerpt from Disney’s “Lion King” in 3D. SIGGRAPH 2011 3D highlights include:

Paths of Hate
Platige Image
Two pilots, driven by blind hate, chase each other in their airplanes and thereby write cryptic messages of madness into the firmament. On their way into the abyss they transform into inhuman and distorted creatures that finally become part of the history of hate.

Flamingo Pride
The Konrad Wolf Potsdam-Babelsberg Film and Television University
Frustrated being the only straight flamingo in a gay flock, our hero falls in love with a lady stork that flies by. Unable to convince her of his serious intentions he isolates himself and goes through an identity crisis. An intensive encounter inspires him to make a bold move.

IMAX Hubble 3D Visualization Excerpt: Journey Into the Orion Nebula

Space Telescope Science Institute
An excerpt from IMAX “Hubble 3D” takes viewers inside the Orion Nebula to witness the birth of stars and planets. This cinematic scientific visualization, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories, is the result of close collaboration between research astronomers, computer programmers, and visualization artists.

"Green Lantern"

Sony Pictures Imageworks
In a vast universe a small powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice: the Green Lantern Corps. A new enemy, Parallax, threatens to destroy the balance of power. Their fate and that of Earth lie in the hands of the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

11 July 2011

SIGGRAPH Game Content Revealed: Part III

Following is the final entry of a three-part series focusing on game content that will be featured at SIGGRAPH 2011. This is a conversation between Naty Hoffman (pictured at the right) and ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter Reporter Mariebeth Aquino.

Naty Hoffman is a Technical Director at Activision Studio Central, where he assists Activision's worldwide studios with graphics research and development. He is a co-author of the book Real-Time Rendering, 3rd Edition.

Background details: This year's content features a substantial amount of game development content: game papers, courses, talks (technical, studio, and exhibitor talks), workshops on game development, and technical papers. In addition, game content can be found in the Computer Animation Festival where Real-Time Live! showcases the latest trends and techniques in games. And for those wanting a hands-on experience, the Sandbox provides the ideal environment to test drive the latest in interactive entertainment.
A Conversation with Naty Hoffman, SIGGRAPH 2011 Game Development Community Director
What are your responsibilities as Game Development Community Director?

My responsibility is to engage with the professional game development community, both to encourage them to submit more content for presentation and to facilitate higher industry attendance at the conference.

It must be hard motivating a game development community which has its own big conferences like the GDC, how do you engage them?

It can be challenging, but SIGGRAPH has some unique things to offer compared to industry-specific conferences like GDC, such as the opportunity to interact with top graphics minds not only within the game industry, but outside it as well. SIGGRAPH attendees can see content presented by people from companies like Pixar, ILM, Disney, Digital Domain, Dreamworks, etc., as well as researchers from top academic institutions around the world. In addition, the graphics focus and extremely high quality bar means that for anyone involved with the visual side of game development (such as artists and graphics programmers), the breadth and depth of relevant content at SIGGRAPH is simply unmatched.

This year, I have enjoyed the able assistance of the game development subcommittee; a group of prominent developers who have been advising me and helping me reach out to studios across the world. Other members of the conference committee with game industry ties such as Drew Davidson, Jason Smith, and Chris Williams have also provided invaluable help.
It is important to note that we did not start from scratch; we benefit from the momentum slowly built up over previous years. Each year SIGGRAPH has more content submissions from game developers, more presentations of interest to them, and more awareness in the game development community in general. I hope that within a few years, we will be close to parity with the film production community in terms of content and attendees.
How important are emerging technologies in game development, or rather, are upcoming technologies supported by game studios?

The game industry is highly technology-driven; new technology is constantly being evaluated, and if it fits the needs and constraints of production it is integrated into the engine and/or tools pipeline. A few examples of note include screen-space ambient occlusion, filter-based anti-aliasing, deferred shading, and high-dynamic range image-based (HDRI) lighting. All of these have been covered at SIGGRAPH - one of them (filter-based anti-aliasing) is the topic of a half-day course this year.

Industry and research can often tell different stories (i.e in goals and communication) - is one more important to game development, and one to SIGGRAPH? Or if not, where and how do these two areas intersect?

Game development tends to be focused more on short-term development, but we do keep an eye on longer-term research as well. SIGGRAPH covers both - some programs (such as the Technical Papers) are targeted more at research and some (such as Courses, Talks and The Studio) at current industry practices.

Which upcoming trends in game development do you see having the greatest impact on game production? And are these featured in this year's SIGGRAPH games coverage?

Rendering techniques are always evolving in our industry, both on the PC side (where constantly increasing hardware power enables new techniques) and on the console side (where much ingenuity is needed to squeeze out better visuals ever year from the same hardware). The courses "Advances in Real-Time Rendering in Games" and "Beyond Programmable Shading" cover both sides of this divide; many of the techniques presented are also relevant for emerging platforms such as tablets and mobile phones.

A specific example of technology used to increase visual quality on consoles is the recent rise of new techniques for filter-based anti-aliasing, which (as I previously mentioned) has an entire course devoted to it this year: "Filtering Approaches for Real-Time Anti-Aliasing".
Another important trend is the convergence of techniques between film and games - we have a lot to learn from the film industry and I believe they are interested in learning from us as well. SIGGRAPH has a variety of content addressing this. Some are explicitly targeted at both industries (for example, the courses "Destruction and Dynamics for Film and Game Production" and "Character Rigging, Deformations, and Simulations in Film and Game Production"). Also, content presented by people from one industry is often of interest to the other - I often find interesting content in the film production Talks and Courses, and I hear from my film industry counterparts that they find useful information in the game development content at SIGGRAPH.

As free-to-play, mobile and independent games become more popular (for gamers and developers, alike) is there potential to optimize top notch technology for such games?

Definitely. Mobile platforms in particular are rapidly increasing in power, and as they continue to do so in the future, they will enable unprecedented visual quality on the go. Since the types of games, input devices, and visual styles often differ from games on more traditional platforms, there is also a need for new technology as well as adapting existing methods.

The game development community is expanding. Great ideas and concepts are now emerging from the independent community - without the use of high performance technology. Will SIGGRAPH cover these noteworthy areas as well?

SIGGRAPH welcomes ideas from all areas of game development, not just "blockbuster" console titles. One of the talks this year (in the "Light My Fire" session) is by an independent developer, Q-Games; Frontier Developments - another independent studio - is presenting their game "Kinectimals" in the Real-Time Live! program. I would like to see more submissions from indie developers in future years, especially from some of the smaller teams.

What are some of the highlights of the game development content?
There is so much good game development content this year, it's hard to
pick just a few highlights. Many of the courses have great game content, two in particular are "Advances in Real-Time Rendering in Games" (both parts) and "Filtering Approaches for Real-Time Anti-Aliasing". There are also many game development Talks - for example, the entire "Hiding Complexity" Talk session. A few highlights from other Talk sessions: "Rendering the Interactive Dynamic Natural World of the Game: From Dust", "Deferred Shading Technique Using Frostbite in Battlefield 3 and Need for Speed The Run", and "Fluid Dynamics and Lighting Implementation in PixelJunk Shooter 2". The Computer Animation Festival is showcasing a lot of game content as well, most notably "Halo: Reach" and "Portal 2" in the Electronic Theater and "Killzone 3" in the Production Sessions; several other games are featured in the "Commercials, Games, and Music" screening.

Unusually, one of the Technical Papers ("Physics-Inspired Upsampling
for Cloth Simulation in Games") was written by game developers; I hope for more such at future SIGGRAPH conferences. This year, there are many game presentations at The Studio which are also well worth attending. Finally, the Real-Time Live!, Sandbox, and SIGGRAPH Dailies! programs are showing several notable game pieces.

Is there content that applies to people both new to the game industry and veterans?

Most of the content is targeted at relatively experienced developers,
though beginners who listen carefully should find it interesting as well, and perhaps get some good ideas for areas to study up in! Some of the content should be more approachable for beginners; SIGGRAPH Dailies!, Sandbox, and Real-Time Live! come to mind, as well as the game content at the Computer Animation Festival and The Studio.

What are your “must attend” sessions this year?

I haven't had a chance to work out my schedule yet, but I very much
hope to see the Technical Papers Fast Forward, Cory Doctorow's keynote, SIGGRAPH Dailies!, the Electronic Theater, and the "Advances in Real-Time Rendering in Games" course.

06 July 2011

SIGGRAPH Gaming Content Revealed: Part Two

Following is the second entry of a three-part series focusing on gaming content that will be featured at SIGGRAPH 2011. This is a conversation between Jason RM Smith (pictured at the right) and ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter Reporter Mariebeth Aquino.

After successfully leading the SIGGRAPH 2010 Real-Time Live! program, Jason RM Smith continues his legacy as Chair and Director for 2011 and 2012. In his life outside SIGGRAPH, he is Digital Production Supervisor at LucasArts San Francisco.

Background details: This year's content features a substantial amount of game development content: game papers, courses, talks (technical, studio, and exhibitor talks), workshops on game development, and technical papers. In addition, game content can be found in the Computer Animation Festival where Real-Time Live! showcases the latest trends and techniques in games. And for those wanting a hands-on experience, the Sandbox provides the ideal environment to test drive the latest in interactive entertainment.

A Conversation with Jason RM Smith, SIGGRAPH 2011 & 2012 Real-Time Live! Director and Chair

What are your responsibilities as Director and Chair of Real-Time Live!?
It’s actually a combination of things which makes the role so interesting.

Firstly, I’m accountable for ensuring Real-Time Live! and the Sandbox are each a success in their own right at SIGGRAPH 2011. Fortunately I get to work alongside a bunch of super smart people who know how to organize an amazing conference, which makes my job much easier.

Secondly, I get to move the two events further forward in terms of placement and understanding as part of SIGGRAPH; they are still both relatively new compared to many other areas of the show so a goal for 2011 was to ground them in their own right, building on the great work established by Evan Hirsch in previous years.

The last major goal was to look to broaden the content (and hopefully the interest) in RTL! Computer Graphics has such a great community it was relatively easy to establish a subcommittee who provided outreach across a wide range of industries and groups that are pushing the boundaries of real-time graphics.

The sub-committee was almost too successful – we ended up with so many strong submissions that deserve to be on stage it was a real challenge to keep the show within its allocated time-slot.

What is the Sandbox? What was the vision behind it and what role does it play at SIGGRAPH?

The vision behind the Sandbox is very straightforward. Real-Time Live! is all about the live presentations from the artists and engineers responsible for the work, and the Sandbox was setup to allow SIGGRAPH attendees to try these projects hands-on, for themselves. (I’m also using it to squeeze in additional content just because there were so many great submissions; be sure to check out the handful of projects in the Sandbox you won’t find anywhere else at the show).
It’s also a really nice change of pace; after a few hours of lectures it’s fun to exercise the physical reflexes a little. Whether you want to race cars or interact with virtual Jellyfish, the Sandbox has something for everyone.
With the rapid evolution and advancements in technologies such as real time rendering, are games using top-notch technologies as impressive to gamers as they are to game developers? Are users more aware or appreciative of what goes on behind the scenes to create their games of choice?

You know, I’m constantly amazed by the number of gamers and communities who are extremely real-time tech savvy just through their interest in the medium. They represent a minority group of players but their depth of knowledge is just incredible.
Looking at the gaming audience in general, I think it’s much more a question of how the technology contributes. If developers’ use breakthroughs to drive a more holistic, compelling experience overall, there is no doubt the work involved is appreciated, even where the exact areas of improvement aren’t obvious to most people playing the game. Ideally, we want to focus 100 percent of the player’s attention to the situation we’re presenting on screen. In many ways, if the technology behind the scenes is obvious or demands attention as an element, then we have failed at delivering the most immersive experience possible.

In-game cinematics temporarily take gamers out of the active play role and place them in a more passive role. With large game development studios placing high importance on the quality of these cinematics, do you foresee a shift towards maintaining player involvement by making these segments more seemingly active?

Yes; there’s no doubt that developers are becoming more comfortable delivering meaningful action and narrative to garner an emotional response from the player using real-time sequences. As this becomes standard, our understanding of cinematics will be challenged as the boundaries between interactive and non-interactive disappear.

As an industry, we’re just beginning to understand how to balance multiple levels of interactivity to deliver a rewarding experience that sits comfortably between storytelling and retaining an immersive experience. The trend has started; it’s interesting to see where it will lead over the next couple of years.
Which is the stronger driving force:
- Video game hardware technology or video game software technology?
- The artist's craft to create video game content or the programmer's knowledge of the latest render technology?

None of them; or all of them. It’s a trap!

What makes a creative industry successful can be broken down or split up into many component pieces, but ultimately the one thing that drives all of those areas is innovation. It’s not always about doing something new, using the same pieces in a new way can be just as progressive, but it’s the underlying creativity that makes the difference, whether affecting one or all of the areas above.

05 July 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Gaming Content Revealed

Following is the first entry of a three-part series focusing on gaming content that will be featured at SIGGRAPH 2011. This first entry is a conversation between Drew Davidson (pictured at the right) and ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter Reporter Mariebeth Aquino. Drew Davidson is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry, and professional worlds: he is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center – Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University and the Editor of ETC Press.

Background details: This year's content features a substantial amount of game development content: game papers, courses, talks (technical, studio, and exhibitor talks), workshops on game development, and technical papers. In addition, game content can be found in the Computer Animation Festival where Real-Time Live! showcases the latest trends and techniques in games. And for those wanting a hands-on experience, the Sandbox provides the ideal environment to test drive the latest in interactive entertainment.

A Conversation with Drew Davidson, SIGGRAPH 2011 Games Chair

What are your responsibilities as Games Chair?
To oversee and coordinate game-related content at SIGGRAPH, working with Naty Hoffman (Game Development Community Director), Jason RM Smith (Real Time Live! chair), and T.L. Taylor (Games Papers chair).

In terms of Games Papers, how many submissions were received? Was there an increase in the number of submissions? Did you notice any trends in the content received?
We had around 100 submissions this year, which is right around what we were expecting. Since we've had Game Papers for several years now, we have had between 80-100 submissions each year. As for trends, there seems to be more attention being paid to indie games and user-generated content.

How has the growth of the video games industry affected the amount of game content at SIGGRAPH? Has it affected this year's game content lineup? And do you foresee this trend expanding game content inclusion in future SIGGRAPHs?
That it's there at all attests to the growth of the industry, and Naty Hoffman has done some great work this year getting involvement and participation from the industry in this year's SIGGRAPH. As for expansion, that's tough to tell, it's been successful and it's going to be more of a PR issue as SIGGRAPH works to get the word out to attendees about the amount of good content related to games.

Since games have a little bit of everything, where does game development fit in SIGGRAPH?
Games fit into SIGGRAPH both in terms of graphics (with real-time rendering and such) and also in terms of interactive techniques (issues around design and player engagement) so there's some good fit with SIGGRAPH.

SIGGRAPH 2011 is in Vancouver, a location that has long been associated with game development. Any thoughts on what has made this location a hub for gaming?
Well, it's a great city all around, so it's an appealing place to work, and there has been a lot of local support to do business here. And with the local universities, there is a lot of potential talent. All of this has helped make it a great hub for game development.

Has the conference's location this year impacted the gaming content being included, interest level in content, or amount of submissions/participation by the local community?

It definitely has. Sylvain Provencher and Glenn Entis have been great in helping with some outreach, and again, Naty has done a great job coordinating with industry as well.

What advice do you have for someone interested in submitting content?

It is such a large event, it is really important to go over all the information on the website - it's all there, it just may not be apparent on first pass. And don't be shy about asking questions - you'll get an answer quickly which can help you submit in the right area and complete your submission successfully.

SIGGRAPH is known for debuting the types of technologies that allow for more intricate gaming experiences, such as the advanced motion capture technology in games like L.A. Noire. What do you think is the next big technology that will be featured in mainstream games?
Mobile gaming is really hitting it's stride. We're going to start seeing more integrated experiences that let you take your gameplay with you across platforms. Plus with services like Gaikai, we're going to see games start streaming (like movies and shows through Netflix and Hulu).

On a personal level, what was the last great video game you played and what did you appreciate most about it? What is your favorite video game of all time and why?
Recently, I've been playing a lot of Minecraft. It really is an amazing experience. It's the epitome of a "Sandbox" game, where you can pretty much do whatever you want...but then's there's the night time, for which you better be prepared.

As for all time, that's a complex question, because I enjoy different games at different times and for different reasons. With that caveat in mind, I'm going to mention two of my tops. "ICO" (on the PS2), is a wonderful adventure game that has an enchanting atmosphere and elliptical experience that I enjoy while I play it and that sticks with me afterwards. Second, would be "Words with Friends" (on the iPhone). I regularly play it with my wife as we both enjoy word games. It does such a nice job of taking advantage of the platform to make it easy to continuously play asynchronous games and keep in touch throughout the day.

Cory Doctorow Slotted to Help Open SIGGRAPH 2011 in The Studio

The Studio at SIGGRAPH 2011 is planning on kicking off this year’s conference with a Roundtable Chat on Sunday 7 August 2011 (12pm – 1:30pm) at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The Studio is the place for technical experimentation and innovative creation. It’s where inventors, artists, and dreamers gather to experience the latest hands-on technologies to explore new possibilities and collaborate with other creative people.

With this in mind, The Studio has gathered a group of technologists, programmers, and creative entrepreneurs working within a variety of disciplines for a discussion that explores the past, present, and future of digital technologies.

Scheduled Moderator: Cory Doctorow, SIGGRAPH Keynote Speaker and a contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Wired, as well as co-editor of the popular blog Boing Boing.

Scheduled Participants:

• Hyeong-Seok Ko, SIGGRAPH Asia 2010 Conference Chair and founder/creator of the Digital Clothing software suite;

• Michael Raphael founder and President of Direct Dimensions, focusing on rapid solutions to 3D scanning

• Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways, the revolutionary company that has changed the 3D printing game worldwide.