SIGGRAPH 2010: The People Behind the Pixels
I recently attended SIGGRAPH (or Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques), a premier international computer graphics, video, animation and new technologies conference.
This year’s conference focused on the stories, people and elements underlying computer graphics and interactive techniques (the people behind the pixels). As a result, I got good insight from all levels of creative and production.
The big technology push this year was “stereoscopic 3D.” TV, movies, media, gaming applications—all are starting to employ stereoscopic technology. There was also discussion of how real-time 3D design in software packages like Maya could be handled with a pair of the stereoscopic glasses. Based on several of the talks, it sounds like the actual production techniques are costly and still being worked out, but the idea is well in place.
Studios are pushing for 3D everywhere as these movies can draw higher ticket prices and profits. However, many are leaning on the cheaper solution of rotoscoping flat video, rather than shooting in true 3D. Hopefully, the success of “truly shot” 3D movies (Avatar, Tron: Legacy) and computer animations (Pixar, Dreamworks, etc.) will continue to succeed and help push the limits of 3D with the use of layered shots, linked cameras and alpha channels.
The importance of 3D was also on display during the first day’s young creative showcase. There were a number of virtual reality booths that immersed attendees in real-time stereoscopic environments, complete with touch and smell.
Meanwhile, the lectures at SIGGRAPH balanced all this technology with the human element and thoughts on the industry. Don Marinelli (Executive Producer at Carnegie Mellon) described the importance of emphasizing storytelling, experience, and arts of all kinds in education. Jim Morris (Executive VP of Production at Pixar) gave a historical look at how Pixar and other studios came to be. And director Joe Kosinski, Digital Domain artists and Disney honchos previewed the upcoming movie Tron: Legacy.
Finally, the SIGGRAPH animation showcase gave attendees a chance to view some of the strongest visualizations and productions from the past year. I really enjoyed seeing all the unique styles and amazing ideas from around the world—some beautiful, some dark, some funny, but all very well-crafted. It was a fitting end to a conference brimming with creativity and technology.
Here are links to some of the more impressive efforts on display:
http://www.poppyfilm.com/index.html (Jury Award)
http://polynoid.org/polynoid_loom.html (Best in Show Award)
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