|The SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival is an internationally recognized event that engages and inspires artists and technologists alike. Each year, it serves as a mirror of what is possible today, and a window into what can be achieved in the future, says festival chair Samuel Lord Black.
The Regulator (Le Régulateur), a French animation directed by Philippe Grammaticopoulos, employs Maya, Photoshop, and Premiere to tell the story of a couple who adopt a child.
True Color, directed by Pierre Ducos and Bertrand Bey of Supinfocom Arles in France, illustrates the story of robots that drive bikes through a white world, repeatedly spreading dirt, while dummies fill gas tanks.
According to Black, the jury process differed somewhat this year compared to previous years, and as a result, the members paid particular attention to building Animation Theater and Electronic Theater programs that were broad in scope, yet maintained the high standards and quality that the shows have exhibited in the past.
This year, the Animation Festival’s seven-member jury-representing research, gaming, entertainment, and academia-assigned the Animation Theater’s 43 projects to one of seven sessions, each characterized by a verb, which best fit or described the animation’s content. They include: Create, Discover, Dream, Escape, Laugh, Play, and Teach.
Manufacturing Proteins with Biomolecular Machines, a collaborative scientific visualization from the University of Texas-CVC software development team, uses Maya and After Effects.
Jona/Tomberry, directed by Rosto and produced by Rocketta Film, uses 3D rotoscoping to match the characters’ faces with live-action torsos. The animation, from The Netherlands, was created with After Effects.
Final Fantasy XII, directed by Yasumi Matsuno of Square Enix, features crowd modeling, realistic cloth simulation, facial animation, and massive environmental modeling, completed in Maya, Shake, and Photoshop.
Among the highlights of the Animation Theater sessions is Discover’s “Scent of a Robot,” a character-based music video created by UVPhactory that combines live-action footage with animation to portray a human as he discovers that he is a robot. Also featured in Discover, along with several other animations, is a reel from Tippett Studio that focuses on the creation of Hell LA and Vermin Man from the film Constantine, during which the effects team turns modern-day Los Angeles into an imaginative post-nuclear environment by way of nightmarish digital backdrops. The Vermin Man sequence, meanwhile, illustrates the technology behind a moving body of swarming creatures that compose the Vermin Man.
In contrast to Tippett’s effects segment is “Recapturing the Lost Colors of Basara,” a historical preservation animation, also shown in Discover, that illustrates how the use of CG and laser scanning helped virtually restore an archaeological treasure to its original colors.
In the Dream session, student filmmakers weave Korean culture and history into their short film project through the use of highly stylized characters in “Chohon.” (For more information about this short film, see “Academic Achievement,” pg. 54.)
Image-Based Material Editing, directed by Erik Reinhard from the University of Central Florida, is a feasibility study on editing the appearance of objects in images from high dynamic range photographs.
Surly Squirrel, directed by Peter Lepeniotis from DKP in Canada, is a tale, crafted in Maya, involving a starving squirrel and a hungry rat who disrupt the natural order of a city park as they duel over a slice of pizza.
Moreover, the Animation Festival jury this year extended its reach into the research, medical, and scientific visualization community, and the groups responded by submitting animations, many of which were accepted into the Animation Theater under the Teach session.
Amfraid, directed by a team at Supinfocom Valenciennes in France, uses 3ds Max, Painter, After Effects, and Premiere to illustrate how fear and imagination often work in tandem.
In the theater venues, the programs ran directly off hard drives using the new QuickTime H.264 compression algorithm, giving the imagery a high visual quality.
Augmenting the festival were screenings depicting highlights from the Japan Media Arts Festival. In addition, there was a Full-Dome Animation Theater, set up in the registration area so that all attendees could experience this growing technology. “Full-dome projection systems are redefining the traditional planetarium, and there is amazing potential in this immersive technology for both small- and large-scale group immersive experiences,” says Black. “People are only now exploring the potential of the dome, and the community is growing. I believe we’re in for some great advances in this area during the next few years.”
Some stills from the Animation Theater appear on these pages. -Karen Moltenbrey
City Paradise, directed by Gaelle Denis of Passion Pictures, is an illustrative story of a woman who initially feels lost after moving from her native Japan to the UK, where everything seems foreign.
Piñata, directed by Mike Hollands, is an Australian animation that uses 3ds Max and Combustion to tell the classic tale about a stuffed donkey’s struggle for respect.
Moscow Souvenir, directed by Luke Bailey from NCCA Bournemouth University in the UK, is an animated short film. Created in Maya and Shake, the “travel journal” contains a loose narrative.