Editor's Note - SIGGRAPH 2008: It's a Wrap - 9/08
Issue: Volume: 31 Issue: 9 (Sept. 2008)

Editor's Note - SIGGRAPH 2008: It's a Wrap - 9/08

Chief Editor

After a two-year hiatus, SIGGRAPH once again returned to Los Angeles, and attendance was up by nearly 4000 from last year’s San Diego show, with more than 28,400 artists, animators, modelers, scientists, researchers, game developers, academia, students, and others enjoying the technology. 

The Computer Animation Festival had a new structure, and the week-long festival proved popular and allowed viewers more flexibility in catching a program or two…or more. A special screening was held on Friday to showcase the prize winners (see “Best of Class,” pg. 10).

A special treat was the keynote by Pixar’s Ed Catmull, an industry legend. Yet, he stood humbly on the stage, revealing some difficult decisions Pixar made, particularly concerning the release of RenderMan—celebrating its 20th anniversary—as a commercial product.

Throughout the halls, show-goers could easily spot the industry’s Vikings, those proud and brave—not to mention sleep-deprived—artists who competed for 32 hours straight to create the best animation of at least 15 seconds in length. In the end, Team Grojf took home the honors for “The Red Truck.” Attendees also had a chance to step back in time to ancient Rome, through the venue Rome Reborn, a CG rebuild of the city at its glory in 320 AD. Chief among the technologies used was Procedural’s CityEngine, software that allows for the fast creation of large-scale urban environments and used to quickly generate 7000 buildings for this project. Rome Reborn was part of the New Tech Demo area, which evolved from the previous Emerging Technologies.

The show floor seemed larger this year, though some attendees thought otherwise. The New Tech Demos and Art Gallery dissected the exhibition area, both situated on the exhibition floor. While the venues received more foot traffic, the buzz from the floor at times made it difficult to hear the instructions in the New Tech Demos, while the peace and serenity of the Gallery was lost.

As for vendor news, Intel made some noise—a lot of it—with Larabee, its graphics processing unit, still under development. The GPU, when released, is expected to compete with Nvidia’s GeForce and AMD’s ATI Radeon. Luxology surprised most with it Nexus licensing agreements with Dassault and Bentley, making its mark in the CAD/CAM/CAE/CAA realm even more visible. Meanwhile, the company is gearing up for the next release of Modo, and in doing so, showed off Nexus 4, the architecture beneath Modo. Of course, actions speak louder than words, and the audience was stunned when the technology was put into action during the replication of not just one high-res rhino, but a whole herd of them, which rendered in a snap. Another big unveiling was Softimage XSI 7 with ICE, which eases coding hassles. Maxon was also deserving of applause with its new Cinema 4D R11, but I believe its jewel to be BodyPaint, which continues to gain users at the major film studios. As expected, Autodesk showed off its large and growing stable of top-level DCC products, and did not disappoint.

SIGGRAPH, without question, was a success. There was something new and exciting around every corner. The high points are many, and they can be viewed at www.cgw.com. Also, enjoy the annual SIGGRAPH summary from CGW’s contributing editor George Maestri, as well as student blogs, compliments of FireUser.com. Meanwhile, get ready for jambalaya, jazz/zydeco, shrimp remoulade, Cajun spices, and more as SIGGRAPH gears up to visit the Big Easy in 2009.