Siggraph 2009 CAF - Part 2 - Siggraph Computer Animation Festival

Carlye Archibeque is no novice when it comes to the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival. In 2007, she was assistant producer; in 2008, producer; and this year, chair. Having held those positions and having attended the conference and exhibition for the past decade, she has observed a number of changes in the festival, as each chair integrates his or her own aesthetic and technical sensibility through their many choices—everything from the wording of the Call for Entries toward a specific theme or specification, to carefully selecting the members of the jury.

Continuing with last year’s structure, this year’s festival includes presentation sessions related to making CG video content, from biomedical research visualizations to narrative animations. “The great thing about the festival sessions is they straddle the line between ultra-technical and entertaining,” Archibeque says.

And, of course, the theme of the entries themselves seems to vary year to year. For the narrative animations, Archibeque says there seems to be more of a sense of levity and hope in the stories than in past years. On the flip side, a lot of the darker-themed films are “pretty dark,” she adds. For pure look development, there is a lot of fluid and debris work in everything from commercials to visual effects films. Also, artists are playing with lighting and rendering in a number of submissions this year.

“Last year, the festival used its sessions to educate [show-goers] on the history of the CG industry. For example, there was a whole day devoted to the history of animation,” says Archibeque. “I took that concept and chose to focus on different aspects of the CG world where digital tools create visualizations that impact both the entertainment and personal parts of our lives.” For instance, there is a day of Talks and Panels on the history and progression of 3D urban planning tools that span pencils to 3D rendering of the reconstruction on parts of New Orleans after Katrina.

More than 800 entries were submitted to this year’s jury, with less than 150 juried pieces appearing in the festival, along with less than 20 curated pieces. Of the juried submissions, approximately 300 were from students.

So, how does this year’s festival compare to last year’s? “Every year is different. I have had an interesting and educational involvement in the festival for two years before I planned my own. After being involved in both the traditional structure and last year’s experimental restructuring, the goal was to provide the attendees with an experience that is a happy medium between the two, where new content can thrive and good traditions can live on.”

Presented on these pages is a sampling of images from animations that appeared in the festival. –Karen Moltenbrey