Blog: SIGGRAPH 2011: From a Student’s Eyes
It’s been a couple of days since SIGGRAPH 2011 ended, and I’m still taking it all in. As a first-time attendee and first-time Student Volunteer, I must say it was an astonishing experience. The jaw-dropping technology at ETech, the fascinating work in the Art Gallery, the amazing variety of speakers giving presentations on the most engaging topics—everything was absolutely perfect.
What went beyond the talks, screenings, and presentations was the incredible variety of people who showed up. I am now honored to say I attended the same conference that some of today’s (and tomorrow’s!) brightest minds did.
On volunteer orientation day, SIGGRAPH and CGW, through the Student Volunteer Committee, welcomed Volunteers with a presentation by Greg Butler (The Moving Picture Company), Troy Brooks (Digital Domain), Jason Dowdeswell (Image Engine) & Matt Ward (Rainmaker), some of the biggest names in today’s digital content creation industry. The panelists went over various topics, including their lives and their work in computer graphics. Their insight was very informative and inspiring for all of us. They were very open and honest when answering our questions and presenting their work. It was amazing to hear how these talented and hard-working people got to where they are now.
The Autodesk Student Experience was a fantastic event hosted by Autodesk. They had speakers such as Kenny Roy (co-author of “How to Cheat in Maya 2012”), Sandeep Kulkarni (Training Specialist at Digital Domain), Adam Sale (Softimage Certified Instructor), Duncan Brinsmead (principal scientist with Autodesk), Mathieu Mazerolle (Lead Engineer on Assassin’s Creed), and Carlos Baena (animator at Pixar Animation Studios, and co-founder of Animation Mentor) teach classes about their areas of expertise. They also shared a reception during which students got to talk to some of the speakers, and had the opportunity to meet other students with the same interest in the computer graphics industry.
The talk discussing the production process of Pixar’s “La Luna”, given by no other than director Enrico Casarosa himself, was absolutely remarkable. He presented the short film at the beginning of his talk, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one in the room with watery eyes, wondering how something could be so beautiful. Casarosa is one of the most articulate directors ever, and the film is a whole lot more enjoyable after listening to him explain the various stages of production and inspiration. Like other speakers, he went over every detail of inspiration for the film: his childhood in Italy, cartoons he loves, and by-hand techniques. It was amazing to see how he and his team came up with solutions for every issue the film dealt with, and how much of themselves they put into it. The result is a beautiful piece of art that touches the human heart like only Pixar can do it. “La Luna” was also presented at the Computer Animation Festival. It looks even more beautiful (how is that even possible?) in 3D.
The Computer Animation Festival was eye candy at its best. From astonishing student films such as Gina Moffit’s “Sweater Dog,” to Digital Domain’s demo reel, the CAF was continuously showcasing the very best in computer animation. Pixar’s “La Luna”, Moonbot Studios’ “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” and Disney’s “The Lion King” in 3D were some of the audience’s favorites.
What struck me the most about SIGGRAPH was the great variety of people from all fields. I met the most amazing people, some of them industry professionals, and some of them high school students, some locals from Vancouver, and some who had traveled all across the globe. It was fantastic to meet people who are as excited about this industry as I am, and it’s even more exciting to know that these people are now part of my everyday life. I cannot wait to meet these people again—whether it’s at a coffee shop next Tuesday, or next year in Los Angeles. I can’t wait for SIGGRAPH 2012!