The Good and Bad of Siggraph 2008

Posted on August 22nd, 2008 in CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

- The good -

Downtown LA
Once deserted, the whole quarter is booming with housing projects all over. Next Siggraph in L.A. will be lively.

 Double clip badge

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Yay, no more flip-flopping badges. With two clamps the badge holder stays straight. I don’t know why I keep my old Siggraph passes.

The weather
It’s California. Sunny, or sunny with light clouds. This summer in Montreal, 2 out of 3 days were rainy.

XSI ICE

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I have been following ICE since the first presentation of Moondust at the Softimage research summit of Siggraph 2006 in Boston. Softimage finally released XSI 7.0 with ICE just before Siggraph, and it’s turning a lot of heads.

Mudbox 2009

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The presentation at the Autodesk User group was a tremendous success, with this version presenting a complete sculptor/painter tool. Still in Beta, but the release is only a few weeks away.

The exhibition floor
I kinda liked how the exhibition was split in the middle, with the New Tech Demo and Studio taking up the center space. Of course it’s sad that the venue is smaller than the previous years yet again, but at least it’s easy to get around and you get to explore more Sigg stuff.

Haptics
What stood out at the New Tech Demo were the numerous haptic setups. Gloves, controls and other feedback interfaces were all over. Expect some fancy new force-feedback controllers for CG work real soon…

Softimage Nice ICE party
My head still hurts. But it’s a good thing.

Computer animation festival
A great collection of sessions, with the best being the two-day stereoscopy talks. Which brings me to…

3-D Stereoscopy
It’s the next best thing since sliced bread according to the movie industry.  Stereo talks, stereo cameras, stereo displays, stereo glasses… CG, digital effects and post-production are of course very tied to all this.

- The Bad -

The Food
Getting good food at the Convention Center is a nightmare. Outside the Center is even worse; you have to get to one of the nearby hotels to get a decent restaurant.

TV in hotel

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Smallest hotel TV ever. My grandmother had a bigger set than this in her bedroom.

Wireless Internet
What, I’m so close to Sillicon valley, and Wi-Fi is dead slow in hotels, restaurants or at the Convention Center. I don’t get it.

… and the worst thing about Siggraph 2008 :

No Electronic Theatre
A very, very big hole in Siggraph 2008 appeared by leaving out the ET in a weird revamping of the Computer Animation Festival. Not many attendees could balance their filled-up days to attend the complicated schedule of shows.



Siggraph 2008 : Day 2

Posted on August 15th, 2008 in CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

I did not think I would spend a lot of time in the conference sessions, but the two-day program on 3-D stereoscopy has been amazing!

Animated 3D Cinema: Imaginary Worlds Brought to Life
Great insights on 3-D CG productions with issues and solutions for stereo work. The know-how presented certainly applies to live pictures and visual effects.

Live 3D Cinema: Capturing Real-World Depth
Closer to our field of work, very informative talks on shooting 3-D productions, from guerrilla setups from Encyclopedia Pictura for Bjork’s Wanderlust video, to feature film like Journey to the Center of the Earth. Also this eye-opener: “Dimensionalisation” by In-Three Inc., with their work on bringing 2D movies to 3D with added perspective effects.

3D Future: Rounding Up the Future
The conclusion of the two-day marathon of stereo talks. Very high-level discussion on the future of stereoscopy 3-D.

Exhibition
Had a few minutes to stroll around the show floor, again fairly small by old Siggraph standards but this is how it goes now. More on this in day 3.

Softimage Nice Ice party
Most excellent night at Club 740 in downtown LA! I was at a great party with Vanilla Ice, Ron Jeremy and girls hanging in drapes from the ceiling. I have Softimage to thank for this.

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Siggraph 2008 : Day 1

Posted on August 12th, 2008 in Software, CG Community, Technical by Marc Bourbonnais

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So I’m in California for my 11th Siggraph, 4th in Los Angeles. The first thing that struck me is that housing is booming in downtown LA. What used to be a dead zone around the Convention Center is now covered with condo towers.

Got all my registration worked out at 7:30 this morning, as always the crowds at Siggraph are extremely well-behaved and the hundreds of non-registered attendees waiting patiently at the doors walked in without so much a fuss.

I attended the new Computer Animation Festival presentations in the morning, a nice addition to the regular classes. I miss the now defunct Electronic Theatre but these new sessions look great. The program on stereoscopy is particularly interesting. Two sessions this morning:

3D primer : The fundamentals of Stereoscopy
The most comprehensive 3-D tutorial I’ve seen. Very informative, both historically and technically. I particular enjoyed Peter Anderson explaining 3-D cinema with chopsticks. Interesting to see a battle forming between Real-D and Dolby 3D

Great Failed Ideas in Production
As suggested during the session, this panel has to come back. Hearing CG masters like Dyksrta and Knoll talk about tough calls in their careers is, to say the least, comforting.

The rest of the day was a bit rushed, where I jumped around in 3 vendor sessions:

Nuke user group
Their first user group; I could not stay long but did get to see some interesting workflow for The Mummy 3 and Ocula, Foundry’s new tools for stereoscopy.

Softimage Education Summit and Research Summit
I gave a very short talk for the education partners of Softimage about what students need to know to get into VFX studios. Short answer: be pleasant to work with, period. I met new traning centers that will stay in touch. I stayed around for the start of the research summit to meet with old friends that I can only meet at Siggraph.

Autodesk User Group
A very big event, happening at the Shrine Auditorium. The show itself was quite long (just over 3 hours) but most of the presentations were good, notably the Mudbox 2009 preview and the stereoscopy recap. Still, 3 hours is a heck of a long time for marketing chit-chat.

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And that’s more than enough for one day. See you all tomorrow, with the start of the exhibition.



Siggraph 2011 : Vancouver

Posted on December 21st, 2007 in CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

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Title says all. It was announced today that Vancouver will be hosting the 2011 Siggraph conference. Pretty big news, this will be the first North American Siggraph outside the US. Congratulation to everyone in Vancouver!



Siggraph 2007 : Day 3

Posted on August 11th, 2007 in CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

Now that I’ve slept 12 hours after this ridiculous trip back, here is what I had planned to post two days ago… and talking about sleep deprivation, right now I’m on my way to supervise a shoot for the whole night. Augh.

The day started with the traditional 3vis – Montreal breakfast. At every Siggraph 3vis invites the attendees from the Montreal region for breakfast. It was great to see again my colleagues from A2M, Buzz, Damn fx, Hybride, Meduzarts, UbiSoft, 3pod and 3vis.

As planned, I spent the whole day at the exhibition, again going through the corporate loop. I spent a good amount of time at the different motion capture booths; with the huge space we have at Modus FX we will definitely setup some sort of production area with a green screen and perhaps somewhere in the future we’ll add some mocap equipment.

My Siggraph concluded in the best way with the Softimage party at The House of Blues; wonderful party, the most excellent music and great crowd.

I’ll have a more thorough report on what I’ve seen at Sigg soon.



Siggraph 2007 : Day 2

Posted on August 8th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

I spent the full day on the exhibition floor, and it should be the same tomorrow. I have to at least visit all the major 3D and 2D booths, and checking out what’s new with motion capture, 3D scanning and other stuff. I’ll post a recap later. Conversations start really quickly when you have “President” written on your badge. I miss going to the conferences, but I’ve got new priorities.

In the evening I attended the Softimage User Group, in the very slick Spreckels Theatre. My ex-employer Hybride was doing a presentation with Chris Watts, the VFX Sup from ‘300’. Hats off to Daniel and Joseph, I know the amount of work involved.  This was the first time I took part in a Hybride presentation… in the audience. I was the unofficial conference speaker back in the days. Times a-changin’.

 I had a choice of 4 parties afterwards; that’s the reward for spending time with vendors all day. Siggraph is all about scheduling conflicts anyway. I decided to check out the one closest to my hotel. The lack of sleep is starting to catch up and Siggraph is not over yet



Siggraph 2007 : Day 1.5

Posted on August 7th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

Even though I do not have a full conference pass, I’ve had plenty to do during my first 1.5 days at Sigg. The night before my trip to San Diego was rough; I had to finish all the paperwork for our corporate bank account and credit margin. I was all done at around 3:30 am. My plane was leaving Montreal at 7:30, so I had just enough time for a quick shower and a 30 minute “nap”. A night just like a prostproduction crunch.

 But now I’m here in beau-ti-ful San Diego. I spent Sunday afternoon walking around the Convention center meeting old friends. Most of them already knew all about our start-up thanks to this blog; the awesome feedback I keep getting never ceases to amaze me. Best wishes came from all around and my associates and I are thankful for all the encouragement we are receiving. It is quite clear we are on the right track.

 Monday started off with meeting software and hardware vendors so we can start working on quotes. It was great to meet a few of them before the hectic pace of the exhibition. As of now the only hardware we’re buying is…a fax machine, a printer and telephones, but in the next few weeks we’ll have to bring in workstations and servers.

 On Monday afternoon I attended the Softimage Research Summit to have a glimpse at what’s in the works with the fine folks at Soft. The Autodesk User Meet was next, followed by the incredible Autodesk Steel Beach party. An absolute blast, it had everything you need for a killer party: people by the thousands, free food, free booze, 360 flight simulators, music, go-go dancers… all on an aircraft carrier. I’m sure Autodesk, Café FX and their partners are more than happy with the turnout.

 Now I know why deep down inside I wanted to become an entrepreneur. To throw huge parties like that one.



Just like my first SIGGRAPH

Posted on July 23rd, 2007 in CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

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So siggraph 2007 is around the corner, and I’ll be there for the 10th time. This will be my first attendance as a company owner, so you’re thinking luxury hotels and expensive dining right?

 Actually, it will be more like my very first siggraph in 1996, when you could get in for less than 50 bucks for the whole week. I was a student at the NAD Center. My class rented a bus and we drove to New Orleans for 28 hours straight. Yup, I slept on a crowded bus floor to get to my first siggy. And we stayed by groups of four in tacky rooms of a cheap motel about 25 miles from the convention center.

 Don’t worry, I’ll be getting there by plane this time and staying at a nice hotel. However, I have to say bye-bye to a full conference pass since I’ll have to spend a lot of time at the exhibition. I can’t miss the opportunity to meet in person about 95% of our future vendors. I also do not want to put my corporate conscience to the test and choose between talking to a reseller about new graphic card specs (zzzz…) and attending “Transformers”: Giant Frickin’ Robots”. Better be safe than sorry.

 The good thing is that the show floor is getting more entertaining every year with great demos and presentations. ILM for example had a wonderful booth setup last year with even an appearance by John Knoll. I’ll miss the papers, sketches and panels, but there’s still a bunch of stuff to see on the floor.

 See you in San Diego in a couple of weeks…