It’s been some time since Computer Graphics World has attended the Imagina conference and exhibition in Monaco. Previously known as “the SIGGRAPH of Europe,” the show had been the graphics community’s first stop along the road to new products, CG techniques, and digital demonstrations for the ensuing year. And for many digital artists, the Imagina Awards set the tone for the year’s animation festivals.
This is no longer the case; instead, Imagina has found its own identity.
A few years ago, Imagina apparently repositioned itself. Imagina is now officially called “the European 3D Community Event.” And the title is befitting. The event is truly broad in scope, stretching across all aspects of computer graphics and 3D technology. The expo floor was small, and the vendors here were heavily geared toward digital architecture and driving simulation. But on a positive note, this gave a number of new companies in this arena the opportunity to shine without having to compete for attendee attention alongside vendors showing off the use of their visual effects tools in creating the latest box-office flash.
A number of these vendors were not without some eye candy of their own. Imagina hosted the ninth international Driving Simulation Conference in partnership with Renault. Therefore, there were exhibitors that featured a mock vehicle that attendees could then virtually drive in adverse weather conditions. Of course, these setups proved to be a big hit among the largely engineering crowd, but they would have been just as popular among the video game attendees at the Game Developer’s
Conference! On the subject of gaming, IMGTP demonstrated its interactive virtual city model, which utilizes the Crytek CryEngine 2, the same game engine developed for the recently released title Far Cry. Moreover, in the Media & Entertainment Conference, Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek, detailed the work behind this innovative game.
For years, those working in the CG field have acknowledged the usefulness of technological cross-pollinization in the various industry segments. And Imagina did a great job illustrating this concept both on the expo floor and in the various conferences: industry, architecture, landscape, and media and entertainment. This trend continued during the Imagina Awards, as nominees competed for prizes in the areas of industry, architecture/landscape/territory, and media and entertainment. (Some of the projects receiving prizes at the show will be featured in an upcoming issue within the Portfolio section.)
According to the event staff, attendance at this year’s Imagina was up 15 percent over last year, and they attribute the growth to the show’s focus on four industry segments. Another added attraction—aside from the beautiful location of Monte Carlo—was the free entrance to the exhibition hall for professionals and students.
So while my first impression of Imagina 2008 was that the show leaned heavily toward architecture and driving simulation, I soon learned that a wide range of industry segments were represented here as well. Too often we identify CG in terms of the most recent visual effects or 3D animated film. But, as Imagina clearly demonstrated, computer graphics is not just for feature films and games. It is vital to just about any industry. Laurent Puons, the event’s general manager, sums it up best: “Today 3D is considered a must-have technology with exceptional growth rates. It is a key strategic tool, be it as a design aid, for visualization, the decision-making process, or the promotion of a concept.”