30 June 2011

Computer Animation Festival Preview Video is Live

For a preview video of the incredibly packed 2011 SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival use the following link and be prepared to get blown away. It is going to be a great show!

To request interviews with the key folks behind this year's Festival, contact media@siggraph.org.

24 June 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Exhibition Experiencing Dramatic Growth in International Participation

The SIGGRAPH 2011 Exhibition is shaping up to be diverse in both in international (exhibitors from outside the U.S.A.) participation and first-time SIGGRAPH exhibitors at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

SIGGRAPH 2011 is currently running 45% ahead of last year in terms of overall international exhibitors. Specifically there are already 64 international exhibitors committed this year vs. 44 at this point in time last year. Canada, UK, France, Japan, Korea, and China represent the majority.

A vast majority of the *first-time* exhibitors are based internationally. Of the 29 first-timers registered for 2011, 25 are located outside the United States, representing seven countries. In 2010, only 13 had committed to exhibit last year at this point in time.

“We are very pleased with the results from our efforts,” said Mike Weil, SIGGRAPH Exhibits Manager, “First-time exhibitors are important because they often bring new technology and innovation to the industry. In addition to our long-time and important exhibitors, the show will also be filled with many new, and to a greater extent non-U.S. based organizations. And we are not done adding more companies to the show.”

(Pictured left: Mike Weil, SIGGRAPH Exhibits Manager since 1992.)

According to Weil, by more than doubling the number of first-time exhibitors as compared to last year, attendees will be exposed to new organizations they have never seen or heard of before. This sometimes even leads to collaboration amongst participating exhibitors and new possibilities are uncovered on the tradeshow floor. Weil attributes some of the success this year to key assistance by Canadian partners as well as the strength of the conference program and the surging energy in the computer graphics industry in Vancouver and across the globe.

The current list of SIGGRAPH exhibitors is available here.

20 June 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Announces Computer Animation Festival Winners

BEST IN SHOW AWARD: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, Moonbot Studios

SIGGRAPH announces the Computer Animation Festival's Best in Show, Jury Award, and Best Student Project recipients for SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver, 7-11 August 2011. A total of 77 films will be shown during the Computer Animation Festival. Nominees were chosen by an expert panel of jury members from 891 submissions representing 44 countries.

"The level of quality and technical expertise
exemplified by this year’s submissions continues to raise the bar for the extreme innovation and leading technology the Computer Animation Festival delivers year after year,” said Joshua Grow, Computer Animation Festival Director and 3D Stereo Coordinator for The Creative-Cartel.

He continued, "The submissions selected to be featured at SIGGRAPH 2011 are a true testament to the leaps and bounds the Co
mputer Animation Industry has achieved since the Computer Animation Festival first debut at SIGGRAPH and promises a very exciting road ahead.”

The Computer Animation Festival is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival. Since 1999, several works originally presented in the Computer Animation Festival have been nominated
for or have received a "Best Animated Short" Academy Award. This years selections will be featured during the Computer Animation Festival through a series of daily Festival Screenings and the iconic Electronic Theater allowing attendees to get a glimpse behind the making of computer generated effects, visualizations, and animations.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, Moonbot Studios

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) William Joyce and Brandon Olde
nburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and Technicolor musicals.

JURY AWARD Paths of Hate
Directed by Damian Nenow, 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 Directed by Tomer Eshed, 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.


Escape of the Gingerbread Man!!!

Directed by Tod Polson, The Monk Studios

A young storyteller challenges the old master in a pub on the Irish west coast. The “Escape of the Gingerbread Man” is a mad romp through the Irish countryside. As well as a subtle commentary on the changes in traditions, and culture that is happening throughout the “emerald isle.”

The Experience of Fliehkraft

Directed by Till Nowak, frameboX

Humans mount themselves onto gigantic robots and try to get centrifuged through space. Sounds like science fiction, but it is what happens in theme parks. Machines with the power of tanks offer five minutes of anti-gravity therapy. An attempt to escape this world ... driven by 10,000 horsepower.



Directed by Tyler Carter, Brigham Young University

A regular night of dream delivering turns into a literal nightmare when an orphan's book of Ancient Aztec Mythology comes alive. The Dreamgiver must save the orphan from his own nightmare!

Sweater Dog

Directed by Gina Moffit, Ringling College of Art and Design

A normally happy go lucky dog is put into a restricting sweater by his owner but tries to go on with his normal every day activities.

Editor's Note: A preview video of this year's Computer Animation Festival will be available soon. Check back to this blog for updates.

16 June 2011

A Brief Conversation with Artist Meats Meier

Following below is a brief conversation with Meats Meier - the artist behind the Computer Animation Festival's "Animation Mother" pictured below.

Meier is currently a freelance illustrator and animator living in Los Angeles. He taught the first ever ZBrush course at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, and is the author of the very popular "Introduction to ZBrush" training DVD produced by the Gnomon Workshop.

Meier is als
o an award-winning digital artist (including two Expose' Master awards) with over a decade of experience in a wide range of artistic fields. His artwork is on the cover of numerous books, magazines, and web sites and he was honored with the prestigious "Maya Master" title by Alias at SIGGRAPH 2003.

What was your inspiration for this year's image?

The inspiration for this year's image was my interpretation of the design theme of SIGGRAPH 2011 - slightly psychedelic, a little hippy, and very colorful. If you saw her in real life, she would be morphing and changing every second - these images are just snapshots of what she looks like at any time for that year.

What does the image symbolize to you personally?
The Animation Mother to me symbolizes the industry and SIGGRAPH itself - always changing, always updating, something new to look forward to.

How specifically did you create the image?

This is the fourth year that I've created the SIGGRAPH Animation Mother, and each year I take elements from the version the year before and use those parts of the base for her new look. This year, I had the model Jessica Johnson scanned into a 3D model, and I used that mesh as a base to create her actual body parts. The fun part is just adding and taking away a lot of intricate detail until I'm happy with how she looks. If a new technology appears in the 3D world, there is a good chance that I will use that technique in her creation.

How much time did it entail?
I worked on it for just about four days or so. I like to try a lot of different poses and looks until I stumble upon the 'one'. I have so much fun with these images, if there wasn't a deadline (and if I didn't have other things to do) I could probably work on these until I die.

Where do you look for inspiration on a daily basis?
Nature really is my biggest inspiration. It seems like all design problems have been solved and perfected in nature. Life itself is always so interesting, so many levels of intricacy.

What brought about this collaboration between you and SIGGRAPH?
In 2008, Jill Smolin - who was in charge of the Computer Animation Festival that year - asked me to design something for the show. We discussed options, and we finally decided to do something a bit like a piece that I had done years ago that I called "Mother Nature". We got a really nice response to the image, and I was asked to continue the image for the coming years.

Any interesting projects you are working on currently?
Nowadays I'm mostly involved in art and animation for the music industry. Right now I am working on art for bands like TOOL, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. Art and music go hand and hand, and I love the creativity that is allowed when working on rock-and-roll.

To view more samples of Meier's work, go here.

15 June 2011

SIGGRAPH Launches Business Symposium to Address Industry Needs and Direction

For nearly 40 years, SIGGRAPH has inspired, educated, and influenced the direction of research, production, and artistic communities. At SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver, 7-11 August 2011, the conference is introducing the SIGGRAPH Symposium: The Business Think Tank. This one-day event brings together leaders to address the past, present, and future of the global computer graphics industry.

The Business Think Tank introduces an opportunity for industry leaders and visionaries to discuss issues related to finance, strategy, culture, and creativity in a conversational environment. This full-day event on 7 August 2011 features discussion groups and two enlightening featured speakers intended to spark frank and honest interaction about the industry in the 21st century.

"The intimate, interactive nature of this inaugural Business Think Tank is the ideal forum in which to inspire idea-sharing and problem-solving among some of the visionaries within the global computer graphics community," says Jill Smolin, SIGGRAPH 2011 Director from 3ality Digital. "This highly interactive day will feature conversations and presentations of industry-specific issues and challenges within our local and global community."

Planned participants include:

Featured Speakers:
  • Gail Currey, Head of Studio, PDI/DreamWorks
  • Andy Hendrickson, Chief Technology Officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Business Session:
  • Victoria Alonso: EVP,VFX and Post Production, Marvel Entertainment, LLC
  • Rory Armes: CEO, Gener8 Digital Media Corp.
  • Dan Glass: EVP, Senior VFX Supervisor, Method Studios
  • Namit Malhotra: CEO, Prime Focus
  • Don McGowan: General Counsel, The Pok√©mon Company International
  • Marc Weigert: Executive Producer, VFX Supervisor, CEO, Uncharted Territory, LLC
Culture Session:
  • Steve Bocska: CEO, Pug Pharm Productions Inc.
  • Kim Davidson: Co-Founder, CEO, President, Side Effects Software Inc.
  • Warren Franklin: CEO, Rainmaker Entertainment Inc.
  • Jenny Fulle: Founder, Visual Effects Producer, The Creative Cartel
  • Shannon Gans: CEO, Co-Founder, New Deal Studios, Inc.
This Symposium is a new initiative for SIGGRAPH, and is intended to accommodate approximately 200 people who are on the business side of the industry. They might be artists who are now company leaders or leaders who work with artists. They are the people who look to each other and other leaders to define and run the industry.

Registration for the SIGGRAPH Symposium: The Business Think Tank is now available. Attendance for this event is very limited.

14 June 2011

Interview with SIGGRAPH 2011 Art Gallery Chair

Following below is a brief interview with Mona Kasra, SIGGRAPH 2011 Art Gallery Chair, who explains her vision and insights into this year's amazing Art Gallery - Tracing Home.

Kasra is a new media artist and educator currently pursuing a PhD at University of Texas at Dallas with a focus on emerging media and communication.

What was your vision behind this year’s Art Gallery?
Tracing Home actually came about as a result of blending SIGGRAPH 2011’s main conference theme “Make it Home” into my personal research interests around the effects of networked media on our culture and our existence. Home is a strong component in production of identities and can signify community and belonging while, on the other hand, can indicate a sense of displacement and isolation. As an Iranian-American, I have been personally fascinated by its personal, political, historical, or cultural definitions.

Given that our understanding of the word home is constantly being shaped and reshaped, I was eager to see how digital artists trace home in the age of networked technology where our sense of body, space, and time is rapidly dematerialized through non-physical hyper-connections. I was especially looking for artworks that critically addressed the current blurring boundaries between virtual and physical. So, Art Gallery’s Call for Submission (CFS) this year invited artists to submit their digitally mediated artworks that searched for, examined, or constructed different dimensions to the concept of home in the 21st century. I should mention that after the jury process, I was blown away by the variety of perspectives that the participating artists have embarked on - certainly beyond what I had imagined in the first place.

How did the community respond (number of submissions, etc)?
The response to SIGGRAPH Art Gallery’s CFS was quite impressive this year. We received over 300 high quality submissions from across the world in a broad range of mediums and disciplines. Submissions varied from those directly responding to the main theme of the exhibition… to those who drew attention to variety of sub-themes and for instance dealt with the ideas of nostalgia, spirituality, surveillance, privacy, control, etc.

All together, the level of breadth and creativity in many of the entries was incredible. The Selection Committee - which was composed of a group of artists, curators, and academic experts in the areas of art, science, and technology - had to go through a lengthy and difficult process of evaluation in order to identify and assemble the content of this year’s exhibition. The outcome of their careful selection is a fresh look at home in relation to its physicality as well as its emotional and sociopolitical aspects.

How will this year’s experience be different than the past?
Well, Art Gallery this year is thematically much more specific and narrowed down. We asked the artists: “where and what is home in the networked era?” and invited them to creatively engage in a more detailed exploration of a rather familiar concept. As a result, even though the selected artworks are very different in approach and technology, an invisible but unifying conceptual theme connects them all tightly. I certainly hope that such strong interconnection among the artworks would further engage the audience with the content of the works and the content of the overall exhibition.

This year, during the course of the conference, SIGGRAPH 2011 Art Gallery committee will provide the audience with educational opportunities such as guided “Daily Tours” and “Informal Art Talk” sessions. The goal of these programs is to expand on Tracing Home and expose the attendees to the various ways that artists use technology for artistic and conceptual expression.

Additionally, thanks to SIGGRAPH International Center, Art Gallery will be offering multilingual podcasts which will further explain artists’ thoughts and ideas behind their exhibited works. We hope that these podcasts facilitate self-guided tours of the gallery as attendees will be able to access the audio files on the spot just by scanning assigned QR codes using their smartphones. Podcasts will be accessible on the web closer to the conference and can also be downloaded prior to visiting the gallery.

You have been involved with the Art Gallery for several years now, what keeps you motivated to stay involved as a SIGGRAPH volunteer?
Simple… the ultimate opportunity to meet and work with some of the most inspiring artists and art lovers from around the world. The experience has been truly worthwhile.

What is the best advice you can give an artist interested in submitting to future SIGGRAPH conferences?

My advice is three-fold actually:

1- Read SIGGRAPH Art Gallery’s Call for Participation (CFP) carefully and thoroughly. CFPs vary every year. Submissions that do not relate or respond to Art Gallery’s CFP stand no chance of getting accepted to the show by the selection committee.

2- Spend substantial amount of time to review and follow the submission requirements. Incomplete or wrongly completed submissions will not be considered. Write a lucid description for your submission and provide a detailed Artist’s Statement. Explain your vision, intentions, and process in depth and especially address how your work relates to the CFP.

3- Keep an eye on the submission deadline. Every year, Art Gallery receives multiple requests from artists for late submissions, all of which regretfully get declined.

What do you hope attendees take away from this year’s Art Gallery?
First and foremost, I hope Tracing Home will be a memorable exhibition that inspires, informs, and engages the audience with its space and content; one that fosters dialog between attendees and participating artists. Secondly, in terms of our theme and our preoccupation with home in the networked age, I hope the selected works will collectively trigger the audience to re-examine and reflect on our new life trajectories especially in regards to hybrid realities of virtual and physical.

For complete details, visit the Art Gallery web page.

For the preview video, visit the video page.

08 June 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Preview Videos Posted

SIGGRAPH Preview Videos are now available for the content in the Art Gallery, Technical Papers, and Emerging Technologies.

Videos previewing Vancouver as well as its Gaming, VFX & Special Effects, Education & Technology Communities are also available on this page.

These videos are all found here. Check back to this Blog in the next few days for the Computer Animation Festival preview.

06 June 2011

Interview with the SIGGRAPH 2011 Courses Chair

Following below is a brief conversation with Ann McNamara, SIGGRAPH 2011 Courses Chair and assistant professor in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University.

Her research is in computer graphics and she is currently particularly focused on the application of visual perception to accelerate and improve computer graphics and visualization.

SIGGRAPH Courses are short (1.5 hours) or half-day (3.25 hours) structured sessions that often include elements of interactive demonstration, performance, or other imaginative approaches to teaching. Attendees hear directly from industry experts and gain knowledge critical to career advancement and job satisfaction.

What are some of the advantages for attending Courses for both SIGGRAPH newbies and veterans?
Courses are all about learning from the experts and gaining inside knowledge - knowledge that is applicable for everyone. The committee is also careful to include a broad spectrum of courses ranging from introductory courses for those new to the field, to advanced instruction on the most current techniques.

How many submissions did we receive this year?
We had a bumper year for submissions with 54 submissions in total! Not only were there lots of submissions, but also the quality of the submissions was extremely high. This made selection very difficult, but it's a good complaint - the quality of courses this year is outstanding!

Is there international participation in this year's content?
Yes, we have course presenters from all over the globe including the United States, Canada, Spain, Japan, Austria, the UK, and many more.

Did you see any trends in this year's content?
Lots of rendering!

In serving as this year's Courses chair, what was your vision and did the content urn out as you had hoped?
The original vision for Courses in SIGGRAPH 2011 was as always to select the highest quality content for our attendees to experience. Overall I am extremely happy with the content; things really did turn out as well as, if not better than I had hoped. Of course I was just part of a larger team that helped to bring this all together in addition to the entire S2011 committee - I was lucky to have lots of help from the wonderful jurors on the general jury, Pete Braccio (Conference Chair), Mark Elendt (General Submissions Chair), Dan Wexler (Late Breaking Chair) and Naty Hoffman (Game Development Community Director).

Also, what turned out well is that we have some new courses on topics that haven't traditionally been part of the Courses repertoire. For example Advances in New Interfaces for Musical Expression will look at case studies from NIME, and Compiler Techniques for Rendering
will focus on cutting-edge projects that apply compiler technology to improve the performance and functionality of renderers and shading systems. These are just two of the many courses this year that have exceptionally well-qualified presenters that will provide the top-notch instruction for attendees.

In a two-part course, would it still be beneficial to attend the second part of the course if you aren't able to attend the first?
Absolutely! We have three stellar two- part courses this year on Production Volume Rendering, Advances in Real Time Rendering in Games, and Beyond Programmable Shading. While they might be more worthwhile as a complete set, I wouldn't hesitate to attend just one part if that was all my schedule would allow.

Which courses are you anticipating being the most popular?
Wow! That is a tough question because we have so many great courses - personally I am excited to see all of them! But in the popularity stakes I can try to predict a few - the two-part courses that I just referenced will be very popular I am sure! Here are a few more:

There is an amazing collection of people involved in Filtering Approaches for Real-Time Anti-Aliasing.

Bruce Block author of "The Visual Story" will give a course on Cinematography that should strike a cord with everyone.

Storytelling with Color will be very popular. Course organizers Kathy Altieri and Dave Walvoord both experts from Dreamworks have done extensive work on recent Dreamworks blockbusters (HTTYD and KFP2) and are amazing presenters!

What is your advice to someone interested in submitting a course for a future SIGGRAPH
Think about your own expertise and the knowledge you have to share and reach out to other experts with similar experience and knowledge so you can build a strong team of presenters. Also, attend as many courses as possible. There are different presentation styles and delivery methods; some courses are hand-on and interactive - think about how you could encourage knowledge transfer through your own course! Also don't get discouraged, the quality of submissions is very high, and the jury will provide valuable feedback so if you are not successful the first time around you can always resubmit that next year.

You seem to have a pretty busy schedule between teaching, publishing, and research. What are some of your current favorite projects?
At the moment I have some interesting projects in the pipeline so calling favorites is another tough question. We are doing some exciting work (with my collaborators Drs. Reynold Bailey at RIT and Cindy Grimm at WASH-U) on a new technique we developed called Subtle Gaze Direction, where we try to guide a viewers gaze around a scene (without them being aware of this fact and without disrupting the image) - we have published two papers so far on this work - we presented our TOG [Transactions on Graphics] paper on this at SIGGRAPH 2010, which was very cool.

While I thoroughly enjoy all my projects, I find Subtle Gaze Direction particularly fascinating because there are so many applications and avenues for future research … we truly have only begun to explore the possibilities.

01 June 2011

Interview with the SIGGRAPH 2011 Emerging Technologies Chair

Following below is a brief conversation with Cole Krumbholz, SIGGRAPH 2011 Emerging Technologies Chair and co-founder of Koduco Games, who shares his insights, opinions, and thoughts regarding SIGGRAPH 2011.

Here's the 2011 Emerging Technologies Preview Video

How many submissions and acceptances did this year's Emerging Technologies have?

23 accepted out of 103 completed submissions.

What are some highlights of this year’s technology?
This year several Emerging Technologies works embed sensors into commonplace items offering casual methods for interaction. A throw pillow becomes a TV remote, a bathroom mirror reports your vital health information, and the back of your hand becomes a touch interface. In addition, some works this year are all about fun: one offers a new kind of physical table-top game, while another puts a new spin on the classic wooden top.

Any new trends this year?
One thing we’re trying to do this year is to extend the Emerging Technologies experience beyond the physical location in the convention center. We’re trying out some exciting new ways to make the pieces easier to talk about and follow.

What were the biggest challenges you faced putting together this year’s Emerging Technologies?
This year our biggest and most exciting challenge was how to best utilize the amazing Vancouver Convention Centre. The Emerging Technologies, the Art Gallery, and the Studio exhibits will be co-located in a common area this year. We’ve been working hard to include as many works as possible while maintaining a good flow and creating an exceptional attendee experience.

[Editor's Note: The SIGGRAPH Reception will take place from 9pm - 11pm on Monday (week of conference) and attendees will be able to interact with all the Emerging Technologies.]

Which technologies have the greatest potential for impacting every day life?
Though we’re more connected now than ever before, face-to-face communication still beats videoteleconference hands down when it comes to conveying presence cues. Two Emerging Technologies works this year tackle the problem of telepresence in very different ways. One transfers body pose and facial expressions to a remote operated puppet that can sit in your lap. The other takes telepresence mobility to new heights -- the remote collaborator’s head is displayed on a floating blimp!

Each year there always seems to be something wacky accepted into Emerging Technologies. Is this year any different?
Definitely not. This year we have a host of technologies that border on bizarre including a pregnancy simulator, a virtual crepe factory, and the telepresence blimp [mentioned above].

View more details on all the Emerging Technologies.