The annual SIGGRAPH conference and exhibition for computer graphics and interactive techniques draws professional content creators from around the globe. Started in 1974, the event is the largest in the world focusing on research breakthroughs, alternative realities, human-computer interaction, animation, creativity, and more.
This year’s conference, held in Los Angeles, was attended by approximately 18,700 – the highest since 2013. Without question, the conference was electric with game-changing technology, from real-time rendering, to real-time production, to open source, to alternate realities. Some of these advancements are being integrated into a number of products from various vendors, while some are being furthered by a specific company.
Computer Graphics World spent some time meeting vendors in suites, meeting rooms, and on the show floor, examining quite a range of new offerings. We tried to meet with as many people as possible, and based on what we saw and heard, have selected those technologies we believe to be worthy of our Silver Edge Award for the best in show from SIGGRAPH 2019.
Silver Edge Award Platinum Winners
Nvidia RTX – When Nvidia introduced the RTX platform last year, which fuses ray tracing, deep learning, and rasterization, there was no doubt it was going to change the landscape of the CG industry. What a difference a single year makes. Now we are seeing a collection of RTX Studio laptops and mobile workstations from major partners that take advantage of the RTX capabilities, so hats off to Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Boxx for their RTX offerings. Also, we have to applaud Nvidia for its RTX Server.
Epic Unreal Engine – With the surge of real-time capabilities, thanks in large part to Nvidia’s RTX, content creators are using real-time production tools on various projects and films. Chief among these is Epic’s Unreal Engine, a powerful game development tool that has become a leading VR tool for all manner of immersive experiences. Although UE 4, the most recent version, was released in 2014, it continues to receive updates and continues to greatly impacted immersive applications, significantly expanding the engine’s reach into all segments of the industry.
Unity 3D engine – Once a leading game engine, Unity 3D is now a leading real-time creation platform, extending its reach across various industries and applications. Like Epic’s Unreal Engine, we applaud the Unity 3D engine for helping to move XR forward into new markets with new applications and a robust tool set.
Silver Edge Award Winners
Chaos Group Project Lavina – We continue to be impressed with Chaos Group’s Project Lavina, which received a Silver Edge Award in 2018 for making it possible to fully ray-trace massive 3D scenes smoothly and easily. It is now inching closer to reality for users. Many new features were demonstrated at the show using several impressive scenes to hit home how the power of this impressive technology. This included a one billion polygon KitBash3D city by Evan Butler, an environmental artist, and a fully interactive walkthrough of Kevin Margo’s
CONSTRUCT movie site (first introduced a few years ago) – using an Nvidia RTX card and a laptop.
Foundry – Typically
CGW selects a specific product for the Silver Edge Award, but in this case, we want to highlight Foundry for continuing to innovate across various applications and for its research efforts to bring the latest cutting-edge capabilities into its various products, from Modo to Nuke to Mari.
Maxon Cinema 4D – For some time now, Maxon has been slowly adding dynamic features to its Cinema 4D content creation software, but this year, the company has taken a giant step forward, making Release 21 more robust than ever – a package that 3D artists need to consider as a vital tool set, with a new Caps and Bevel system, new Field Force dynamics, speed enhancements, and broader integration with popular hardware and software technologies. The company has also embarked on a “3D for the Whole World” initiative, making the software more accessible to 3D artists through easy installation, licensing, and low-entry subscription pricing.
Pixar USD – Pixar released its Universal Scene Description (USD) as open-source a few years ago, giving the CG film and game industries an effective, standardized way to describe, assemble, interchange, and modify high-complex virtual scenes among DCC tools used in studios. Indeed, the release was big news at previous SIGGRAPHs, but this year, USD was among the more heavily-discussed topics due to its widespread adoption.
Blender Institute’s Blender – Blender is an open-source 3D content creation tool that has been used by many in the industry. However, at this year’s show, Blender received a lot of recognition and support from some of the top players to further its development. Meaning, we expect even more DCC professionals to use Blender in the near future. As a side note, Ton Roosendaal, Blender founder, was recognized by analyst Jon Peddie with the JPR Technology Advancement Award during the annual Jon Peddie Research luncheon during the conference.
The Khronos Group’s OpenXR Specification – For years now, The Khronos Group, an industry consortium, has worked hard on the creation and adoption of open standards for the 3D community. Its most recent work involved the ratification and public release of the OpenXR 1.0 specification, a unifying, royalty-free open standard that provides high performance, cross-platform access to VR and AR platforms and devices. For this and all its efforts in the open standards realm, the group has earned this well-deserved recognition.
Silver Edge Award Runner-ups
Vicon Shogun 1.3 – Shogun 1.3 is introducing precise finger solving so users can record the entire body, including the hands and fingers, during motion capture.
Glassbox Technologies DragonFly and
BeeHive – Glassbox is trying to make virtual production as easy as capturing movies on an iPad.
A real-time virtual sync solution, DragonFly is a low-cost, professional, cross-platform virtual camera for Unreal Engine, Unity 3D, and Maya that enables users to view CG environments, character performances, and scenes in the same way as they would in a live environment – only virtually. Moreover, DragonFly does not require knowledge of the host software. BeeHive, meanwhile, enables collaborative virtual scene syncing, editing, and review, whereby users can see live changes from multiple users at the same time, regardless of the tools they are using.
OptiTrack skeletal solver – The solver results in artifact-free, real-time character animation in OptiTrack optical motion-capture systems, even during incidents of heavy occlusion.
photo by Dina Douglass © 2019 ACM SIGGRAPH