Computer Animation Festival Highlights: Beyond the Film Reels

Category: Siggraph
Chicago, Ill. - The Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH 2010 offers more than just a viewing experience. In addition to film screenings, the Festival includes interactive sessions and opportunities to learn industry secrets, behind-the-scenes stories, and advice from some of the most successful professionals in this field.

"Attendees will get a glimpse of the work that went into creating some of this year's most successful films, including Avatar, The Last Airbender, How to Train Your Dragon, Alice in Wonderland, and many more," said Isaac Kerlow, computer animation festival director from The Earth Observatory of Singapore/NTU ADM. "Nowhere else in the world will so many computer graphics and animation experts come together under one roof to discuss both success stories as well as failures. In essence, sharing information is how this industry continues to move forward by leaps and bounds year after year."

Listed below are just a few of the learning opportunities during the Computer Animation Festival:

Production Sessions
Production Sessions are high-level discussions that showcase how computer graphics and interactive techniques are actually designed and implemented. Attendees of all experience levels may benefit.

The Making of God of War III:
Izzy, concept artist; Patrick Murphy, lead character modeler; Bruno Velazquez, lead animator; Bryan Koszoru, environment artist; Paul Coda, Sr. environment artist; Jung Ho Park, concept artist, SCEA, Santa Monica
The makers of God of War III detail the creative process behind the game's visuals. The first part of the session follows the lead character, Kratos, from initial concept art through modeling to animation. Particular emphasis is given to issues specific to game animation, such as integration with player control and combat systems. The second part focuses on the game environments, exploring different approaches used to create game levels from initial concept art.

Making Avatar:
Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor; Stephen Rosenbaum, visual effects supervisor; Richard Baneham, animation supervisor, Weta Digital
Avatar
is the first predominately digitally created film, shot and directed as a live action film. Key to the director's vision was having photorealistic, believable digital characters, and environments fit seamlessly with live action. To accomplish this, Weta Digital, led by Joe Letteri, developed innovations that enabled the director and actors work as if they were in a conventional live-action movie, even when filming sequences that were entirely computer-generated. For the audience to connect with the blue- skinned ten-foot-tall Na'vi, they had to see the actor's soul shine through the character's eyes. This required increased realism in character animation, especially the facial animation. The emotional performances of the characters in Avatar are an achievement that have taken digital characters to a new level of believability and have, at the same time, enhanced story telling.

Animation Blockbuster Breakdown
Shawn Kelly, lead animator, Industrial Light Magic; and co-founder, Animation Mentor; Carlos Baena, lead animator, Pixar Animation Studios; and co-founder, Animation Mentor; Eric Goldberg, supervising animator, Walt Disney Animation Studios; Michael Makarewicz, supervising animator, Pixar Animation Studios; Aaron Hartline, animator, Pixar Animation Studios; and Animation Mentor
Animation industry veterans break down shots from your favorite animated films. In 10-minute presentations, they each show two animated shots from recent feature films, summarize the challenges they experienced with each shot, and reveal new ways to approach the craft of animation.

The Last Airbender - Harnessing the Elements: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire
Pablo Helman, visual effects supervisor; Olivier Maury, engineer; Daniel Pearson, cg supervisor, Industrial Light Magic
To create the visual effects work for M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, ILM developed a hybrid GPU-based simulation engine and renderer. In this session, the production team explains how this novel system allowed artists to achieve photorealistic results at exponential speed increases over previous methods of complex simulation. The team also shed light on the vast 3D environments created for the show, dissect some of the more challenging effects sequences, and reveal how the results were achieved.

Day Night
Teddy Newton, director; Kevin Reher, producer, Pixar Animation Studios
When Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods, sparks fly! At first, they are frightened and suspicious of each other, and they quickly get off on the wrong foot. But as they discover each other's unique qualities and realize that each offers a different window onto the same world, their friendship helps both to gain a new perspective. The Stereo 3D screening of Day Night precedes a presentation by the director, Teddy Newton, who explains his inspiration for the film, what it took to get a green light from the studio, and the challenges posed by such a technically ambitious process.

Live Real-Time Demos
This content showcases the very best of video games and real-time simulations. To help emphasize the difference between these works and pre-rendered works, real-time pieces are demonstrated live on their actual platforms without any post-production. In addition, a selection of these projects will be available for interactive demonstrations in The Sandbox--an open videogame play area.

Agenda Circling Forth
Fairlight and CNCD
A unique real-time demo that takes its inspiration from the Impressionist painters but with an innovative modern twist: it builds animated 3D scenes entirely from particles. Every pixel truly is alive in this piece.

GlyphSea
University of California, San Diego
Real-time demonstration of novel glyph-based visualization techniques. One of the scenarios shows the Big One earthquake simulation, highlighting effects on the Los Angeles region.

God of War III
Sony Computer Entertainment
God of War III
is the latest entry in the successful God of War series and the first on PlayStation 3. It combines epic set pieces with exquisite fine detail, and its visuals display both technical and creative virtuosity.

Making Love
Quel Solaar
This demo is an exploration of the world of the procedural one-man indie MMO LOVE. The demo also showcases the tools used to create assets, like sketch-based modeling, 100% automatic UV mapping, shader and asset management tools, and the layer-based procedural texturing tool.

Supersonic Sled
Nvidia Corporation
The Nvidia Supersonic Sled is a full physics simulation of a mechanical assembly subjected to heavy loads. Using PhysX, CUDA, and DirectX 11, this demonstration uses real-time simulation and graphics techniques to produce a realistic and exhilarating experience of driving a powerful machine on the edge of control.

Animation Clinics
New this year, industry leaders, and masters will review students' final projects and offer creative, production, technical, and career advice. Each chosen work will receive 40 minutes of review during three public sessions open to conference attendees. Clinics are a great way to get direct, constructive feedback from industry experts


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