August 4, 2006

SIGGRAPH 2006 Draws a Crowd in Boston

Boston - SIGGRAPH 2006, the 33rd conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques, registered 19,764 artists, research scientists, developers, filmmakers, and academics from 80 countries for the industry conference and exhibition in Boston this week. More than 230 companies, of which 76 were first-time exhibitors, presented and demonstrated their solutions, services, and innovations during the three-day exhibition portion.
"Returning to Boston for the first time since 1989 was met with a resounding response from the local and international community," notes John Finnegan, SIGGRAPH 2006 Conference Chair from Purdue University. "The city of Boston did a fantastic job at welcoming the computer graphics and technology community to this part of the country."
Currently in charge of design and development for Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Joe Rohde has led conceptualization, design, and production for Disney's Animal Kingdom since its inception in 1990. An avid adventurer, he has traveled in Indonesia, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Kenya, Tanzania, and elsewhere, both on his own and in the process of designing Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Most recently, Rohde has led the development and production of Expedition Everest, the new thrill attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This project took him and other Imagineers to the far corners of the Himalayas, researching the background details to incorporate into the very authentic environment designed for Expedition Everest. As with many other projects at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a portion of the research focused on conservation.
The essence of Rohde's keynote at SIGGRAPH was the prime importance of a consistent narrative when telling a story -- whether it is a written novel or a Hollywood blockbuster. Rohde's rationale is that the human brain is predisposed to classify data into specific categories. He further dissected storytelling into three components -- theme, design consistency, and research for realism.
During his speech, Rohde detailed his initial journey to discover that consistent narrative for the Everest Expedition as he accompanied the scientists who documented the biodiversity of these areas. During the trip he also explored oral traditions of the Yeti that were integrated into the storytelling of the attraction. He then discussed how Disney Imagineers turned this information and experience into the thrill ride Expedition Everest.
Immediately before the keynote address, ACM SIGGRAPH presented three awards: Computer Graphics Achievement Award, given to Thomas W. Sederberg from Brigham Young University; Significant New Researcher Award, presented to Takeo Igarashi from The University of Tokyo; and ACM SIGGRAPH Outstanding Service Award, given to John M. Fujii from Hewlett Packard Company.
The Computer Animation Festival jury gave "One Rat Short" by Alex Weil of Charlex (United States) "Best of Show" honors. Special Jury Honors were also given to "458nm" by Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Tom Weber of Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg.
SIGGRAPH 2007, the 34th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, will be held at the San Diego Convention Center, August 5th through 9th, 2007. More information is available online at