Dreammaker (Jury Honors) From Germany, this piece by Leszek Plichta of
Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg surpassed the expectations of the
jury, thereby receiving accolades from some of the industry’s top representatives.
En Tus Brazos (Award of Excellence) Another student
entry, this short from directors Francois-Xavier Goby,
Edouard Jouret, and Matthieu Landour of Supinfocom/Premium Films,
also garnered a coveted prize.
HP Hands “Paulo Coelho” This image is from a spot for HP by creative
directors Rich Silverstein and Steve Simpson from Motion Theory in the US.
Often called the Academy Awards of computer graphics, the annual SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater is a premier event for the world’s most innovative and amazing digital films and video creations. This year, an internationally recognized eight-person jury—which, collectively, has expertise in all the various segments of the industry—selected 39 submissions for the honor of appearing in the 2007 Electronic Theater. All told, the jury, in three and a half days, reviewed more than 900 entries, which is 20 percent more than the total of the previous record for submissions. The jury’s choices represent outstanding achievements for this era in the particular area of computer graphics that each animation represents, says chair Paul Debevec of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.
The entries to the Computer Animation Festival—which comprises the Electronic Theater and Animation Theaters—are representative of the wide range of interests in computer graphics present at SIGGRAPH, including animation, visual effects, research, scientific visualization, art, broadcast, and real time. Similarly, they reflect CG excellence from around the globe: 72 animations are from outside the US. “I am thrilled with the jury’s selections and feel they did a great job not only in choosing innovative and excellent pieces, but also in selecting those from across the board in all the submission categories,” says Debevec.
Aside from the Electronic Theater pieces, another 93 were chosen for the Animation Theaters. This content will be presented in themed segments that will play throughout the show.
Three groundbreaking films received the coveted SIGGRAPH festival awards: “Ark,” Best of Show; “Dreammaker,” Jury Honors; “En Tus Brazos,” Award of Excellence. “This year’s winners are perfect examples of how computer graphics is enabling small, independent groups to create films with vast landscapes, complex characters, and amazing visuals,” says Debevec. “Just as CG blurs the line between real and virtual, each of these, in its unique way, explores what is tangible and what is imaginary, and whether that difference is important.”
According to Debevec, this is a notable year for studio shorts in the Electronic Theater. There are always tent poles of the show that everyone looks forward to, and they include Pixar’s “Lifted,” Blue Sky’s “No Time for Nuts,” and Blur’s “A Gentlemen’s Duel,” he notes. “Not every show is lucky to have three of the major studios with a major shorts effort.”
2007 is also a big year for real-time content; to that end, there are nearly 10 minutes of real-time material in the theater. One highlight is a documentary of a new game module for Half-Life 2, called “Portal,” which has an especially innovative gameplay element. Additionally, there will be a montage comprising various real-time technical advances in gaming, as chosen by the jury. Also, the show features various scientific visualizations, including a breathtaking animation of a galactic formation, called “Formation of a Spiral Galaxy.”
“Every piece is there because it is different—it pushes beyond the borders of what we have seen before,” says Debevec. “And there are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments that are humorous in unexpected ways.” In other words, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
A small selection of images from this year’s the Electronic Theater is presented in these pages. —Karen Moltenbrey