For decades now, SIGGRAPH has celebrated cutting-edge animation from around the world in its Computer Animation Festival. Once again, the best work will be presented in the prestigious Electronic Theater. This year, however, the festival is moving beyond the flat screen to present short films and experiences in a new space, the VR Theater, where attendees will experience the next generation of storytelling in virtual reality.
According to Pol Jeremias, this year’s festival chair, an international jury reviewed hundreds of submissions; 23 have been accepted and will be seen in the Electronic Theater. Ten VR short films will be shown in the VR Theater.
“The Computer Animation Festival has a lot of innovative and unique experiences happening this year for the first time. These include
our very first VR Theater – we created this venue to add to our attendees’ viewing experience each day. Here they can see 10 of the top VR films that are pushing the boundaries of VR technology and VR content,” says Jeremias. These VR films range from environmental documentaries, to short stories, to music experiences, and so forth. The VR Theater will show where the VR industry is heading and what’s driving it forward.”
The work featured in the festival spans the genres of short films, visualizations, visual effects breakdowns, and game cinematics. For the VR Theater, the work entails short films, documentaries, music experiences, and some very abstract pieces. International contributions are high this year, with 80 percent of the accepted festival entries coming from outside the US, while one-third of those in the VR Theater are international.
“Every year the submissions are just incredible, and this year is no different. I’d like to make a special mention of the quality of the student work this year. You need to see it,” says Jeremias. “The Computer Animation Festival is a unique opportunity to see how far our industry has come over the past 12 months, and this year, with the inclusion of real-time films in the Electronic Theater and VR Theater for the first time, we think we have something unique that the audience will love.”
Moreover, SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards. Since 1999, several works originally presented in the Computer Animation Festival have been nominated for or have received a Best Animated Short Academy Award – a statistic that speaks volumes.
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As an added bonus this year, there will be a Sci-Tech Panel from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. And, there will be several invited pieces from ILM, MPC, Pixar Animation Studios, Weta Digital, and Epic Games.
“We will be showing incredible student work, and for the first time, real-time short films, played back in real time!” says Jeremias.“We are excited also to be presenting several panels featuring the directors of some of the festival and VR Theater films, giving the audience a chance to learn from them, ask questions, and establish a dialog with these talented people.”
Three awards will be presented from the juried content: Best in Show, Jury's Choice Prize, and Best Student Project.
“I believe that watching the Computer Animation Festival really empowers our attendees. They get to see content and information they can’t see anywhere else. It stimulates their imaginations into investigating new ways in which to get things done, by learning from the best content from all over the world.”