Fri 10th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Los Angeles shines once again with SIGGRAPH. Not too big, not small, but just right.



Thursday was a blur of meetings and sessions, and a couple hours sitting in the Electronic Theater. When I walked thru into the trades hall for the twentieth time, the security lady trying to stop me by saying they're just about to close.  Wow, that went quick.  There were just as many people running around, staring blankly, walking slowly and gawking at the tech, as any moment in the three day exhibition.  Something said to me this show could keep going on into the weekend.  NewTek was still blazing away, Autodesk was pumping and somewhere up to the left Pixologic, Pixar and Shotgun were drumming along as well.



Then the bagpipes started. 'Amazing Grace' filled the air, and people looked around. This began at the HP stand in the mid 80s. The flavor in the air immediately changed from explaining wares to packing up and running. I made a quick exit as well, cos the pallets were being moved out onto the floor, travel cases were appearing and shoulders were dropping.



What made SIGGRAPH 2012 for me?  As always, the announcements and technology releases, but there was a difference this year.  I felt the courses, papers and some presentations on software lighting were exceptional, if not a little deeply technical. Some production sessions were intensely brilliant, like the Pixar sessions about the hair and the cloth work, admittedly because I'd followed that area with the film.  But sadly there were other movie breakdowns that lacked energy.  The guys just read the scripts and looked very much like this was the last place they wanted to be.  This was in Hall B, in front of a huge audience.

I was greatly impressed with the demonstrations being touted at the trade stands for Autodesk, NVIDIA, Pixologic, NewTek, AMD, MAXON and Luxology. This made the streaming videos we had on the site here that much more valuable but also, for those at the show, the stands were given a human face. An approachable focus for those wanting to talk to the experts and gather info about the products.  Let's hope Anaheim carries the Californian flavor and keeps the SIGGRAPH magic going.

One way to make sure the magic continues is to register for SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 in Singapore, and this opens for registration this weekend. If you are reading this from the Asian side of the Pacific, this is your call.  See you there.


Related links:


SIGGRAPH Asia 2012

SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim

High Frame Rate

Wed 8th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


High Frame Rate debate continues after milestone SIGGRAPH presentation.


What are the benefits of the High Frame Rate (HFR) process to film making and distribution?  What hurdles are due for the production personnel and other industries the distribution channels?  Wednesday's Special Production Panel at SIGGRAPH here in Los Angeles called in some very high end people to piled up on stage, all very much for the development of this technology at the earliest opportunity.


The large panel included Phil Oatley from Park Road; Darin Grant, Digital Domain; Jim Besheasrs, Dreamworks;  Lincoln Wallen, Dreamworks; Doug Trumbull, Trumbull Ventures Inc.; Dennis Muren, ILM; Jon Landau, Lightstorm Entertainment; Luke Moore, SideFX; Matt Cowan, RealD; John Helliker, SIRT, Sherdian Collage; and Moderator Paul Salvini from Christie.


After the introductions and explanations of what we were about to see, a 3D film was shown to the audience in which James Cameron revealed several examples of specially filmed dramatic sequences. For instance, a dolly around a dinner party table in the middle ages. A locked off panning view of the same action; a sword fight and some dancing princesses.   A walk along a modern street past picket fences and a Chinese sword dancer. Each first in 24fps, then 48, then 60fps, (with 180 degree shutter). The difference between 24fps and 48 was evident, and the creamy smooth capture on 60fps was obvious.     A cinematographer probably wouldn't do these flicker-filled shots at 24fps unless he 'desired the effect.'


During the moderated presentation and talkfest, there were some issues raised, but here are the quotes gathered.


"Dramatic scenes played out better in 3D," Jon Landau said. "To immerse audiences, we have the responsibility to tell stories in better ways and to drive people out of their home and back to the cinema.  High frame rate has just as much impact in 2D as in 3D.  More engagement to the audience to the story. That's what's important.  "In digital cinemas today, as far as being ready to project the 48fps, it's a software upgrade," added Landau. "It'd be very simple."


"I can see a difference in the animation realm. Running different rates isn't a new thing for animators and rendering more frames," said Lincoln Wallin. "It could slow down the workflow for animators but perhaps they could still work at 24fps and extra frames could be auto-interpolated."


"The performances on drama and comedy are funnier in 120fps because the eye can pick up the performance better," says Dennis Muren. "Add 3D and you're really there.  I'm a big proponent."


Earlier in his career, Doug Trumbull was doing ShowScan 60fps films. He left ShowScan, but has in the interim been approached by people in support of his quest for HFR. "Today, we no longer have shutters in cameras or projectors. The shutter never closes so it doesn't miss anything. You can also change any part of the frame from 24 thru to 120." A live-action movie could be filmed at 120fps, then could go thru a frame rate grading, like a Digital Intermediate.  Bringing portions of a scene down to 48, back to 24 or leave at 120. "This 'Hypercinema' is more like live performance.  A first person experience. This is a new cinematic experience," he added.  Would this mean CG animations and VFX-heavy movies would have frames taken from the film to convert frames back to 24fps from 48fps.  "As images get sharper, the VFX has to be that much better.  The root work will have to be that much better. Tools would have to be developed to help out with the extra frames needed to be perfected, as VFX artists work frame by frame," said Darin Grant from Digital Domain.



"Nothing is new," said Doug Trumbull. "back in the day, cameras were hand cranked. They had notes about when to crank faster and slower, so nothing is new."

Cinema goers, movie watchers, [read: our customers] have been on many occasions rendered as passive recipients of some very good technology. But would these customers really be that interested in anything more than 24fps cinema presentations if the story is excellent, the acting superb and VFX and CG effects complete the circle?   The presentation this morning showed classic flicker of foreground elements, quick pans and such. Then showed that a faster frame rate would suppress that. OK...


The argument for 48fps was coined by one panelist as a relaxation of restraint. In order for High Frame Rate to be used successfully, it has to be artfully correct as well as financially viable.  



There are some compelling arguments for the Higher Frame Rate. The debate needs to hear from more people working as Director of Photography, as this will change their game, completely. Also some others at the VFX coal face of the industry, without being on stage at SIGGRAPH. There are equally pressing arguments citing improvements to cinema release films today. These arguments have very little to do with 3D, VFX, CG or HFR.  What the cinema needs is more quality in the story department.  This debate isn't over and I hope heads stay cool.  


Related links:



SIGGRAPH Wednesday

Wed 8th Aug 2012, by | siggraph2012



NVIDIA has launched its Maximus 2 workstation platform, featuring Kepler. This allows artists (or anyone really), to perform complex analysis and visualization on a single machine, simultaneously. In Maximus 2, compute work is assigned to run on the new NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU computing accelerator, freeing up the new NVIDIA Quadro K5000 GPU to handle graphics functions. Maximus unified technology transparently and automatically assigns visualization and simulation or rendering work to the right processor. These two cards are combined with Kepler to run in Dynamic Parallelism.


At the OptiTrack stand, the Prime Series of MoCap camera has been shown at SIGGRAPH 2012, with a focus down on the Prime 41, which has a 4.1 megapixel resolution and a marker to camera maximum distance of more than 80 feet. Capture volumes can extend to 150-feet with some very impressive pixel for pixel tracking precision. Made with VFX Studios, game developers, universities and others in mind and costing US$4999, the Prime 41 is about a third the price of other offering with the same specs.




Also on the show floor, Imagination Technologies announces its Caustic Visualizer viewport plugin for Maya. They demonstrated the new technology at SIGGRAPH. This plugin makes ray-traced photorealistic rendering an integral part of the content creation work flow, from initial design.   Built entirely on the Imagination PowerVR OpenRL platform, Caustic Visualizer can deliver an interactive photorealistic viewport experience on a CPU-only desktop that was previously only possible in competitive solutions based on expensive quad-GPU hardware configurations.  Impressive.

I also spoke to Don at Shotgun Software who has announced the 4.0 version of this revolutionary project management software. Built on the base of FileMaker Pro, this database system has been modified to such an extent that many plug and play additions like the new Tank system, means Shotgun can be developed into any style and tracking system you could try and make it into.

I also had a look at the latest moves by Luxology over in their booth on the floor. They had Wes Ball set up showing how he created that amazing short RUIN earlier in the year. A limited time cross-grade offer is up and running at the moment for people thinking of considering a move from other modeling/animating packages. Brad Peebler talked about the new 'Order of Operations' method in modo that keeps rigging simplified. Luxology modo is looking better and better everytime I see their line up.

Related links:



Wed 8th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012

NewTek has a pride spot just inside the door of the SIGGRAPH Trade Show.

For those of you unable to get inside the doors of the Hall down here in Los Angeles, here is the UStream feed of the live presentations and interviews being given right here live at the NewTek booth at SIGGRAPH 2012.

With LightWave 11.5 revealed just days ago, the job of promoting what it is capable of has gone to the shoulders of Rob Powers, Present of the equally new LightWave 3D Group, and a cell of producers interviewing many of LightWave's great artists over the years. Watch above for extra details on the schedules for Wednesday and Thursday.

Related Links:


Tue 7th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


The SIGGRAPH 2012 tradeshow floor opens in Los Angeles for the big exhibition.



First impressions.  Each of the majors are here with a great effort for presence immediately out of the blocks by NewTek. Everyone walked in and they were right there front and center. There was lots to distract though. NVIDIA, Autodesk, MAXON, AMD and a really impressive number of smaller, younger companies taking part in this eclectic mix of tech.   Luxology is continuing to prove itself with the full-featured package modo 601. More studios are kitting out.  They have an all-star presentation team this year.


The Maxon booth (#723) has drawn huge crowds interested in the forthcoming release of CINEMA 4D R14, as well as an impressive lineup of booth presenters. Booth speakers included Andrew Kramer (Videocopilot) – who spoke about how to 'add a whole new dimension to After Effects,' using CINEMA 4D and Element 3D. Other notable speakers include: Nick Campbell (Grayscalegorilla), Casey Hupke, Ash Thorp, and key members of Aixsponza.

You can see the full list of presenters, as well as watch and interact live at
While you’re there, sign up for the free raffle and you may win from nearly $8,000 of high-value prizes including: TurbulenceFD, Mocha Pro v3, and Trapcode Suite.



Earlier on, the conference chair Rebecca Strezelec briefed the media with some stats, also reporting that the Business Symposium was a great success on Sunday, with around 150 attendees, easily convincing those observers lucky enough for a look, that this is another successful new addition by Jill Smolin, bringing new insights and information to the conference at large.



SideFX has opened a brand new on-line store called Orbolt! Here, the community can purchase Smart 3D Assets or sell the assets that they have authored.  You might see away down the posts, we leaked a portion of the Orbolt logo online last week and it has been a lot of fun reading the speculation from the Houdini community about what the logo could possibly mean.   Also, Houdini Master is now Houdini FX and Houdini Escape is now Houdini. With the re-branding comes a significant drop in product pricing. With the new version, Houdini FX is now available for $4,495 while Houdini will remain priced at $1,995. For further savings, customers will now receive their first year on the Annual Upgrade
Plan for free. This creates savings of ups to 30% for Houdini and up to 50% for Houdini FX.



The Los Angeles Conference Trades Hall this year has 161 exhibits, on 44,750sq feet, 42 of them first timers. There are about twice the number of production sessions being presented by the Computer Animation Festival and this year, also, the practice of bringing stock from the workshop into the venue for a photo-op has been started by the production crew of 'Real Steel' with Noisy Boy's big presence at West Hall B.



Now, there was a line up with experience. A panel that included Ron Ames, Associate Producer, Erik Nash, Digital Domain, John Rosengrant, Legacy Effects, Swen Gillberg, Digital Domain and Dan Taylor, Animation Supervisors, all moderated by Michael Fink whose work goes back past 'Contact' and Noisy Boy sitting up as high as the podium through the lot of it.



So how did it all come together?  These guys made it all sound so much tough fun, with Shaun Levy and Steven Spielberg bringing production together, there was the fast realisation that, "when we get the data in from the first fight in simulcam and the virtual camera at the same time, we knew the production was going to be fast," as said by Erik Nash. "We were really producing the film from day one. The moves the MoCap guys, camera operators and choreographers made on Day One rolled right thru to the final edit." The film was blocked out in MoCap. Some crew weren't completely sure, but found they were called for finals almost before they knew it. Each fight in the movie was really shot in MoCap, so when they all flew to Detroit to film the location shots, they knew what they needed. There were of course, extra takes saved for VFX every now and then. "One more for no good reason."

Related links:




Wed 8th Aug 2012, by . | siggraph2012



It’s Day Two of the showfloor being opened at SIGGRAPH and there is still a lot of awesome presenters scheduled to be at the Autodesk booth! They will be presenting non-stop from 10AM-6PM EST on the show floor and online. So no matter where you are be sure to catch great presentations and product demonstrations! The booth schedule details are summarised below:




9:30AM - PRESENTER: Pete Bandstra, Program Director – 3D Arts – Full Sail University & Andrew Hwang, Senior Assets Modeler, The Third Floor Inc.



10AM - PRESENTER: Matt Middleton, CG Supervisor, MPC (The Moving Picture Company).



11:30 AM - PRESENTER: Alex McDowell, Creative Director – 5D Organization.
TITLE: Worldbuilding As Narrative


1PM - PRESENTER: David Cullipher - Founder and Creative Director of Sabertooth
TITLE: Solving the Content Problem.



2PM - PRESENTER: Kenny Roy
TITLE: Achieving appealing cartoony animation using Autodesk Maya.


2:30PM - PRESENTER: Kevin Scharff, Producer - Spark Unlimited
TITLE: Crafting the Narrative for Lost Planet 3.



4PM - PRESENTER: Chris Edwards, CEO & Creative Director, The Third Floor, Inc and Patrick Runyon, Product Specialist, Xsens
TITLE: Real-time Scene Design with Chris Edwards, CEO & Creative Director, The Third Floor, Inc.


4:30pm - PRESENTER: Ryan Tudhope & Kevin Baillie, co-founders and vfx supervisors at Atomic Fiction
TITLE: Atomic Fiction: Small Shop, Big Picture.



Related links:




Tue 7th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


In the Pixar CAF Production Session on 'Brave' Monday afternoon, a lot of solid cred was levelled on Steve Pilcher, the production designer. Pilcher oversaw the creation of the characters, the color swatch belonging to King Fergus, Elinor the Mumbear, and especially the character of Merida the princess with the mane of red hair in the movie.



The animation team discussed the long process of finding the best skin color, SSS level, freckle shape, depth and color, as well as finding the best jaw line and mouth movements to fit the accent supplied by the voice artist Kelly McDonald. Several voice tests were animated to using lines McDonald had delivered in previous movies. Other actors were tried but her's was best and was best captured by the animators as well.  An impish quality was also flagged for her, with her mouth playfully large, "… unless she is angry," said Animator Paul Mendoza.


The animation team worked hard to bring a clumsy performance with grace to Elinor.  She was getting used walking and managing everything in the new bear body.


Another character in the movie that the crew spent a lot of time on was Angus, Merida's horse. While not having curly hairs, he was almost as difficult as Merida to get right. There was a lot to get right with some animators working on the correct behavior of his hair, mainly the mane, tail and fetlocks. Each area had a different kind of hair so an entirely different behavior and stiffness. The new hair simulator that was developed for Brave is called Taz. It began as a research project by Andy Witkin then later Hayley Iben.


Related links:




Tue 7th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Have you seen the bulk discounts available on Ballistic books at the SIGGRAPH Bookstore?

Up the escalator in the West Hall, Breakpoint Books (The Siggraph Bookstore) is having a promo for some Ballistic Titles.

Machine Flesh,
Machine Phase,
Linda Bergkvist Prints
EXPOSÉ 2, 3, 4 & 5
EXOTIQUE 1, 2, 3 & 5


20% off any two (2) titles and 30% off any three (3) or more titles!


Related links:


Ballistic Publishing

SIGGRAPH Traditions

Tue 7th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


personal personal personal



SIGGRAPH setting a range of ways to celebrate the industry.

Monday night's Sake Barrel Opening at the Marriott was steeped in a tradition from a world far from the Belasco Theater further up the street into downtown where The Foundry was holding their GeekFest.

Bill Collis, CEO of The Foundry stood in the depths of this insanely gorgeous establishment, speaking to the dimly purple heavens filled with invisible parties. extolling the histories of the Foundry software development story arc. [See images above] "There have been eight doctors, one professor and no nurses present at the development of the company, and so far 4754 bugs have been squashed," he said. "6,412 support tickets have been solved."

The hard work is being done by the industry, because the shots are being delivered by the industry," said Jack Greasley. Working openly with OpenColorIO, Alembic and EXR, The Foundry's applications have found a home in the industry in the fastest fashion of any software in recent history.  While Scott Metzger added that working with Mari is painting with light, Rob Nederorst came on stage for an explorative look at his work on 'Beautiful Creatures', which is being released in April next year, and he showed how the new Mari 1.5 was able to take advantage of Matte Spherical projection. Lining up a HDR spherical projection into a wireframe scan of a film set.

Related links:


The Foundry



Tue 7th Aug 2012, by . | siggraph2012

NVIDIA streams their live content from the show floor.


If you can’t make it to SIGGRAPH this year, NVIDIA will be streaming live sessions about new GPU technologies, including from partners such as Dassault Systems, RTT, Altair and many others.  You can learn about new tools to accelerate time to market and improve insight earlier in the design process and even chat with an NVIDIA expert during the presentations. Just visit the schedule of talks here or using the links on the sidebar.



Related links:




LightWave 11.5 at SIGGRAPH

Tue 7th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Instant rigging, flocking and bullet dynamics comes to LightWave in new version.



New Genoma rigging system for Modeler, soft-body Bullet Dynamics, modeling enhancements and interchange support for After Effects and GoZ FiberMesh create a robust end-to-end pipeline

The LightWave 3D Group has announced LightWave 11.5. Delivered as a complete 3D pipeline, LightWave 11.5 includes many new features to streamline productivity, including a new Genoma character animation and rigging system for Modeler, predator and prey flocking, Instancing, soft-body Bullet Dynamics, interchange support for Adobe After Effects and Pixologic’s GoZ Fiber Mesh, major workflow enhancements, and more.


“LightWave 11.5 elevates artistic freedom with innovative new features and workflow enhancements that are designed to streamline productivity,” said Rob Powers, president, LightWave 3D Group. “From fast interactive stereoscopic rendering in the VPR to physically accurate hard-body and soft-body Bullet Dynamics, LightWave 11.5 continues to reinforce its leadership position as an end-to-end pipeline.”


LightWave 11.5’s new features and enhancements include:

Genoma is a new modular instant-rigging system that can be used to quickly rig a simple biped or quadruped for animation in Modeler without the need for specialized rigging tools. It offers modular rig presets that consist of skeletal parts such as spines, wings, arms, legs, hands and feet. Complete rigs for biped and quadrupeds can easily be customized using Genoma.

New functionality and architectural advancements in Modeler allow for faster interactivity, performance, and tool development. LightWave 11.5 introduces many new tools like UV Unwrap, Edit Edges, Place Mesh, Slice, Thicken and Heat Shrink that emphasize the system’s power and lay the groundwork for future third-party modeling tool development.

Bullet now includes soft-body dynamics for effects such as cloth, rubber, jelly or other deforming properties. Bullet meshes are also now reactive to bone deformations and wind forces can also be added for rippling effects.

A specialized particle system that allows items to move in very organic ways, Flocking offers new prey and predator behaviors that allow flocks to chase other flocks or have flocking agents seek out and chase the closest prey. Neutral flocks do not chase but still affect other agents for collision avoidance. Other new features include Plane, Pursuit and Arrive directors and the addition of node controls.


A new GoAE button allows you to select elements in a scene and see them in Adobe After Effects—including animation, lights and camera setting. Changes can be made using Camera Tracker in After Effects before returning to Lightwave. GoZ technology for Pixologic’s ZBrush allows you to send models to and from LightWave with automatic node flows for textures and normal maps. ZBrush styling tools can also be imported to LightWave and attached to objects.

Now includes Per-Object control of scale, stretch, offset, rotate and nodal controls, along with new Copy and Paste functions and Path Mode optimizations for greater flexibility and workflow.

ViewPort Preview Renderer (VPR) transforms how artists work in LightWave with fast interactive onscreen rendering. LightWave 11.5 now supports depth-of-field and motion blur effects and stereoscopic rendering in VPR.

Purchase or upgrade to LightWave 11 for US$1495 and automatically receive LightWave 11.5 at no extra cost when publicly available. Upgrade pricing from earlier versions of LightWave is US$695. LightWave 11.5 is expected to ship Q4 2012 at a suggested retail price of US$1495. Educational pricing is also available.   



Related links:

LightWave 3D


Mon 6th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


When Rebecca Strezelec, the SIGGRAPH 2012 Conference Chair introduced the keynote Speaker for the conference in the persona of Jane McGonical, author of Reality is Broken, I was ready to hear something special. What followed the intro was an fast-paced invite into the world of activating the world's collective and future minds to heal themselves with activities and thoughts proven to heal and protect the developing minds of the young; the world's leaders of tomorrow.   I thought Rebecca's intro said it all.    



"Some of her achievements in recent years include:
One of Fast Company's 100 most creative people in business;
One of New York Times' top Ten scientists with the best vision for the future;
One of Oprah Winfrey's ten most inspiring women in the world;
Her classic TED Talk, 'How Games can Make a Better World', is ranked sixteenth of all time, one ahead of Bill Gates;
Earlier this year she was ranked 26th most powerful person in the game industry, one ahead of the CEO of Angry Birds;
Her chief goal in life is to see a game developer win the Nobel prize, oh my goodness, she is wearing the most fabulous shoes today."



In the end, Ms McGonical went on to present a top secret, death-defying, life-changing, world record-breaking keynote speech indeed. For years, McGonical has been obsessed in how games change the way we think. Perhaps developers can create the games to direct the development of the minds that play the game, to improve concentration, to lift spirits, to save lives. Designing cognitive framework shifts in order to heal brains. She knows it work because she has done the professional research and read tomes of results that concur to her ideas, but she has been thru a healing process first hand.  She acquired a brain injury some time ago, which rendered her in a dark place, just wanting to die.   She actually wrote, "If I can't think, who am I?"  Doctors told her, no stimulation, basically, no reading, no writing, no video games, no running, work or email, no alcohol and no caffeine. She deducted there was no reason to live.



She decided she would use the same game play to heal herself and she did it.  As a gamer, she knew which direction to design the activities of the game so she could reach out for help, think constructively, and reach out for others to play the game along with her and therefore find the fun in getting the help she needed. She called it, "Jane the Concussion Slayer". Working for the Institute for the Future in SF, she is actively researching the area of how games assist us to develop a kind of person best fitted to make the best future a possibility instead of a pipe dream.  Her research includes the Art of shaping someone's destiny, and also the Science of giving them new abilities to achieve it.



As a game researcher, the Art of the Science covers all kinds of platforms. Dig into the research yourself.  Jane extended the life of everyone in the room by seven and a half minutes.



Get out your Google and grab Jane McGonical with both hands.  She's a Superwoman.



Related links:




Mon 6th Aug 2012, by | siggraph2012


Autodesk announces extensions for Maya and ads Max 2013.

Software extensions for Maya 2013 and 3ds Max 2013 offer access to new and enhanced features that can help increase productivity and performance, especially made available for Autodesk customers on Subscription.

Features vary by which product, but the details show enhanced creative toolsets for particle simulation;
a great new viewport display and shading improvements; scene assembly tools for better complexity handling.

Take advantage of the latest tools, click thru below  to see what’s new in the extensions.


Related links:

Autodesk Maya 2013

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013


Mon 6th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Local EXPOSÉ artists handed their complimentary copies of the milestone book at Ballistic lunch.



For almost a year now, production on a milestone book has been a big project for the small crew and I at Ballistic. Only a couple of weeks ago, the Tenth edition of EXPOSÉ was made available for Pre-Order on our publishing website and will be available for immediate sale very soon. Today I had the great pleasure to have a lunch with three of the artists who were in the Los Angeles area and visiting SIGGRAPH.




Seen with their complimentary artist copies of EXPOSÉ 10 are (from left) Laurent Pierlot, a senior cinematic modeler at Blizzard Entertainment, winner of the Master Award in Science Fiction; Tom Ciccone, a senior designer and illustrator at Pixlmix in LA; and Toni Bratincevic, a senior environment artist at Blizzard Entertainment as well as third place winner in the recent V-Ray 10-Year Anniversary Challenge.


It was fantastic to hear their stories of how they came to where they are today and also personally tremendous to meet them at last, after so many years of email contact alone. As an added note, I will be walking the halls and tradeshow floor for the next three days with a copy of EXPOSÉ 10 in my pack. Please come up and say hi and have a sneak peek at the real book. The cover by Daniel Uhlig is something to behold.



Related links:

Ballistic Publishing EXPOSÉ 10

Safe Harbor

Mon 6th Aug 2012, by . | siggraph2012

PNY and Safe Harbor Computers at SIGGRAPH 2012 at booth #831


Visit the PNY booth to learn how you can Accelerate Your Inspirations with NVIDIA Quadro by PNY professional graphics solutions. See for yourself how leading applications in DCC, 3D Design, Broadcast, Film and Visualization are optimized using the ultimate GPU power provided by the latest NVIDIA Quadro by PNY graphics solutions including the NVIDIA Quadro SDI series.



PNY and its workstation partners, such as Safe Harbor Computers, will demonstrate real-world solutions using PNY's professional graphics, SSDs, and memory to accelerate professional applications. Safe Harbor’s next generation TSUNAMI workstation will be on display, running Adobe CS6 alongside major 3D applications. Equipped with NVIDIA Quadro by PNY graphics and Blackmagic Design’s Decklink Studio 2, come see how these powerful, custom-built workstations bring real-time performance and SDI output flexibility to Adobe CS6-based editing and effects.



Be sure to visit the PNY booth for more information, show specials, and a chance to win an NVIDIA Quadro by PNY graphics board.


Related links:


Safe Harbor

Sunday Sessions

Sun 5th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Sessions, Posters and Papers, leaving us interested, hungry for more and filled with Curiosity.



Alejandro Garcia from DreamWorks brought real life back into the creation of animation for the audience watching in his 'Principles of animation Physics session this afternoon.


Some major principles of body weight, balance, walk cycles and suchlike which could be said to have been obvious to an observer, but the explanation of the physics behind the movement in real life is great advice for those setting out to make their characters look off balance or not working within the inertia that is in the scene.


I also stepped into Craig Barron's wondrous little presentation on the history of Matte Painting in 'Invisible Art'.  A great insight from one of the cgreats in VFX Matte Painting, one guy who's had his fair moments of working in the days of optical printers and pre-digital creation of background plates.  Through slides of sequences from complete classics like 'King Kong', ' Gone with the Wind', 'even Chaplin's 'Modern Times', and George Meliés.


Barron went thru the ages in some details, capturing some great work from Peter Ellenshaw and Paul Houston in Hollywood in the sixties thru to the eighties. He even showed the Dupy Duplicator, which was the  very crude but efficient motion control system.


The Technical Papers Fast Forward filled the South Hall B to overflowing, with a steady stream of papers for a full two hours. Great work being presented and I now have a few papers and interesting solutions to watch for. I took in about half before I had to run out in search of food.  



After a dinner out with the CGWorkshop instructors and the CGSociety crew, I walked up the hill to catch up with the CGTalk people at the Meetup.  What a cool crowd. After a dark beer I probably should not have had, we all caught a convoy of taxis to be in the Geek Bar just ahead of Curiosity as it landed on Mars.  I've been watching this since is launched and it was great to see a 'soft' landing at the other end. I heard it said at this particular gathering, people sorted out the real geeks from the weekenders.


Related links:



Technical Papers Fast Forward


Sun 5th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


People, names, games and technologies.  Sunday exploration at SIGGRAPH.


This morning I sat down to talk with a couple of guys who have developed the system called Fabric Engine. Paul Doyle and Phil Taylor.  Coming out of the development of the node success of Softimage in at Autodesk, the credibility these two guys have is far-reaching.  It is hoped that developers will spend less time building back-end architecture with this system, and even surpass the performance of normal DCC tools.


Now they have a new framework they call Creation Platform, which is built upon a server side architecture and can run an impressive list of application files. In fact, the speed of iteration of the thumbnails is pretty insane. Even as a thumbnail, each file can be run through as a scrub if necessary.

Creation Platform has been in closed beta at a number of high-profile studios, and only now is opening the technology to a wider range of customers.  Creation applications are built using Python and Qt. For the critical performance parts of an application, Creation uses a custom Kernel Language (KL), which a simple, high-level language. If a TD or developer is comfortable with Python, they will find KL easy to pick up.


The Fabric Engine team will be showcasing Creation Platform at SIGGRAPH 2012 in the AMD booth (#709) and presenting twice daily in the OptiTrack booth (Booth #610).

When one steps into the Emerging Technologies there is a tendency to brush across the top of some of the displays. You won't be doing that in here. One particularly baffling one is being shown by Disney Research titled Botanicus Interacticus and based on the electro-fields within a plant's body. There were examples of large almost-succulent flowers, reeds, and a beam of cane plant.


Each sensor (and plant) giving different interpretations to the pats and strokes, so each reaction was different and quite entertaining. The key to this was the position of the sensor, the temperature of the plant, the area it is touched, and the whether was a grab or a stroke. Possible applications might be the temporal condition of a plant could be used in future to be a room's natural thermostat.  Think I'll go back tomorrow!


Related links:


Emerging Technologies

MARI 1.5

Mon 6th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012



The Foundry launches Mari 1.5 at SIGGRAPH.


MARI 1.5 is promised to be packed with new features that reach beyond the film industry and into the games market. As a proven production 3D digital paint tool, it has helped that provide that link between the creative and the technical tasks of managing  the material. The LucasArts Star Wars 1313 game was created using texturing tools including MARI.


“Mari 1.5 is the result of close collaboration between The Foundry and our customers," says Jack Greasley, MARI Product Manager at The Foundry. "We believe that Mari 1.5 is the most exciting texture painting and 3D digital paint tool available and that it addresses the needs of not just VFX and CG but anyone who needs to put pixels onto polygons.” Improved Overlapping UV Support gives artists the freedom of a smooth and robust workflow allowing shared textures to be re-used across 3D models within the same UV space.



Helping to improve interoperability with Autodesk Maya, artists can now seamlessly handle patch based textures with a single click using the new Maya Texture Export feature. Real-time shadows on textures can be created using the new Shadow Support. Matching of the final look of real-world assets is made easier with DDS Cubemap Support and symmetrical objects paint can be  halved by the Mirroring Support in MARI's paint buffer. 
The Foundry is at SIGGRAPH, and will demonstrating the software at



Related links:

The Foundry    



Sun 5th Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012




After a smooth ride across from Australia on Qantas A380, I was really happy to spot the LACC off the side of the freeway exit. It's almost like a homecoming into downtown Los Angeles and the big friendly foyer of the Marriott at L.A.Live. It's not too hot down here Downtown, and the sun doesn't have a bite. Not that I reckon I'll be spending too much time outside at all.


The Eyewitness 7 News weather man says it could hit triple digits as we move into the middle of the week, so be prepared. Stay inside in those sessions and presentations. There's too much going on inside to consider walking around in the sun. Being the quiet end of Saturday before the start of SIGGRAPH, now's a good a time as any to flag those events coming up tomorrow that are, to my mind, not-to-be-missed.



Picking up your pass is easy enough, but is changed from previous SIGGRAPHs. If you are entering into the West Lobby, at the Staples Center end, go straight up to the twin escalators but turn right.  The Petree Hall is set up for the registration and and dispersal of passes.  Don't forget to bring your photo ID.


The Emerging Technologies display, opening Sunday is one of the first displays to set out for, if you haven't a presentation or course to go to. This year beginning at noon in Room 150-152 and 153A, the expanded ET displays bring interactive techniques to the next level, with some semi-formed applications and input devices that confront and challenge. While some are directed at the game and film production industries, some are right out of the left field of robotics.  


Anyway, that's tomorrow. Today our crew of six needs to catch up, do some meetings, eat and recover, for what will be a big week indeed.


Related links:

Emerging Technologies


Fri 3rd Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Hardware is making its stamp at SIGGRAPH. Lot of cool MoCap systems, and a HoloStation from Christie.

OptiTrack is excited to announce their new series of the motion capture camera system at SIGGRAPH. The two new cameras are specifically tailored to large-volume, full-scale productions. The OptiTrack booth (#610) will have live mocap demos, and presentations from Autodesk, Oblong Industries, Fabric Engine and Halon Entertainment.

Oblong Industries will feature a custom integration of OptiTrack Flex 13 cameras into Oblong’s spatial operating environment, g-speak – best known as the gestural interface platform that enabled the finger tracking interactions in Minority Report.

Christie has become deeply involved with SIGGRAPH this year firstly with a Platinum sponsorship, not only also hosting the High Frame Rate panel with Doug Trumbull, Dennis Muren and Jon Landau, but also showing for the first time, at its booth #1123, its latest solution, the Christie HoloStation, a personal visualization system that displays up to 15 Megapixels of data in a 3D stereoscopic and interactive tracked environment in a compact, six by six foot footprint. It is driven by an NVIDIA Quadro Plex scalable visualization solution, external graphics processing designed for large-scale 3D visualization.

The Christie booth will also display the innovative Christie Personal Immersive Environment (PIE) concept, composed of a three-panel arrangement of Christie FHD551-X LCD flat panels in portrait mode with a roughly 90-degree Field of View (FOV).

Vicon will be showcasing several new products at SIGGRAPH, including new Blade 2 mocap processing software; Cara, a head-mounted facial capture tool; and a new Interaction Device for navigating immersive environments.    Visit Vicon at booth #729 during the show to learn more.


Related links:





Faceware Education

Wed 1st Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Students can now create high quality facial performances free of charge.



Faceware Technologies has announced an Educational Program to colleges around the world. The new program, which is currently being tested by a select number of universities including the UK’s University of Portsmouth, will allow students to create high-fidelity facial animation with the Faceware Professional Software Products, free of charge. Faceware is showcasing the first student project created with its technology, Stina and the Wolf, in booth #1129 at Siggraph 2012.

“Creating detailed and convincing animated facial performances is arguably one of the toughest challenges any animator faces in the 3d world,” said Ron Ryder, CEO of Faceware Technologies. “With our new Educational Program, schools will have the ability to train student animators in this cutting-edge form of animation with our industry leading tools prior to launching graduates into a fast-paced production environment.”




The Faceware Professional Product Line consists of software and hardware technology to handle every step in the production of high-quality facial animation: video performance capture, performance analysis, and facial animation creation. Faceware’s Analyzer and Retargeter software are free of charge; however, studios and commercial clients must pay a processing fee for the analysis for the captured performance.   

With the Educational Program, Faceware is waiving the processing fees to give all students access to free and unlimited use of Analyzer and Retargeter for educational purposes. The only cost associated with the program is for the rental of the optional head-mounted camera system (HMCS), if needed. 




Giving free and unlimited access to Faceware software products allows students to take advantage of the Company’s extensive knowledge and research in computer vision techniques in facial and gesture recognition, and to draw on the Company’s vast experience in providing facial animation on groundbreaking projects such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Wolfman, the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, Halo: Reach and many others.




“The animation industry continues to evolve, and keeping students not only informed about, but trained on, the latest tools is immensely important to the long-term health of our program and the success of our students,” said Alex Counsell, Principal Technician at Portsmouth’s School of Creative Technologies. “Faceware’s suite of tools is arguably the most proven, advanced and easy to learn facial animation technology on the market. Just look at what we did in a matter of weeks for our Stina and the Wolf trailer and the benefits of Faceware become clear."




The first student production to use Faceware’s Professional Product Line is Portsmouth’s Stina and the Wolf. Using Faceware’s software, Portsmouth’s student-run production completed four minutes of detailed facial animation with only a handful of junior animators and one senior animator in four weeks.




Related links:


Lightworks & AMD

Wed 1st Aug 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012



Lightworks announces a visualisation partnership with AMD.


As part of Lightwork’s ongoing commitment to offer a wide range of visualisation technologies, the company will be collaborating closely with AMD to enhance their work in stereoscopic 3D technology.  Lightworks already provides this capability within its Lightworks Author product where customers are able to enhance the perceived realism within their 3D models.  This capability has now been developed further to incorporate hemispherical backgrounds within Lightworks Real time thereby increasing the depth, realism and involvement in the model.


Following on from the work carried out with AMD, Lightworks will be demonstrating the capabilities of their stereo 3D tech within the Artisan product at SIGGRAPH in LA.


Visitors to the Lightworks booth will be able to see the improved performance which AMD FirePro graphics cards give to the rendering of stereoscopic 3D models within real-time. Dave Forrester, CEO at Lightworks, commented; “At Lightworks we’re always striving to give our customers additional functionality that will help them to increase the realism of their work.  Our partnership with AMD means we can now demonstrate greater perceived realism within 3D models to make them come alive for users.”


When you get to the trade floor, visit Lightworks on booth #1137


Related links:



Curiosity landing

Tue 31st Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Watch the Curiosity Mars Rover come in for landing, at the Geek Bar.


If technology and art are your thing, and I have a feeling a lot of you have that running thru your blood, don't miss the chance to watch this piece of history.  Described by many as the 'seven minutes of terror', this is real-life science, technology, color, art and poetry in motion, all rolled into one.  Thanks to Brian Ban for the reminder to post this up.    


At the dark end of the first day of SIGGRAPH, at about 10:30pm, go to Room 404 of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The Geek Bar will open immediately after the Technical Papers Fast Forward on Sunday August 5.  Bring your Conference Badge and remember you will have to organise your own way back to your hotels.   I mean, what's the worst that could happen!?




Related links




NASA Curiosity site


Tue 31st Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


The SIGGRAPH crew just released a report on the progress of the trade show listings and they say they are seeing growth throughout the entire exhibition in all sectors. Long-time exhibitors are taking larger spaces and new exhibitors are flocking to LA to show off their latest offerings. Exhibit space is up over 12% compared to 2011.  There seems to be a continuation of a wave of excitement from the success of SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver.



There are 3D technology breakthroughs offering new tools that are easy to interact with and work on various platforms (film editing and effects, construction, medical, etc.).  This is further evidence that SIGGRAPH is much more than just a computer graphics show. We are seeing an increase in simulation and interactive experiences. Gesture recognition and mobile-enabled software is also hot. 



About a quarter of the companies on the show floor are first-timers. This is similar to last year and a step up from 2009 and 2010 where 10% were new.  There are 19 countries represented here, 37% of the total from outside the USA.  And there is still some spots in the floor plan. It's tight but ACM says they can fit more in.


Advice for attendees
Give yourself plenty of time to see the Exhibition and speak with the exhibitor staff and ask them what is new and different. There are so many new products that exhibitors bring – don’t miss the opportunity to discover the latest advancements and bring that knowledge back to share with your colleagues.


Related links:


mocha Pro @ SIGGRAPH 2012

Fri 27th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Imagineer Systems' mocha Pro is at SIGGRAPH 2012 in booth #222.





The team from Imagineer Systems will be showing the latest version and technology pre-views of mocha Pro and mocha AE, the popular planar motion tracking and vfx utilities. Additionally, throughout the show, guest artists from the visual effects industry will be showing examples of their work that was assisted by mocha.



Guests artists include:

David Shorey: Visual Effects Artist on Supah Ninjas, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol



David Blum: Visual Effects Artist and Trainer  - Charlie's Angeles, Art Institute


James Chick: Lead Compositor from Hive FX will show work from NBC's Grimm.



Legend 3D: (Spiderman, Hugo) will talk about how they use mocha Pro in their stereo conversion process.



Introducing the Imagineer Systems Mocha Pro 2012 Showreel.  Check it out!



Related links:

Imagineer Systems

CG is good

Thu 26th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


The good news is CG is growing seven percent a year.



In a report just released for the pre-SIGGRAPH week, Jon Peddie and his team of 'intrepids' at Jon Peddie Research (JPR) say the industry is slowly recovering from the slowdown that was the GFC.



Peddie Research begins with a note we all concur on.  "SIGGRAPH is a joyful expression of our desire to recreate the beauty, wonder, and even dread in the world we see around us. At SIGGRAPH people share what they've learned and learn from others because the goal is huge. It's nothing less than to create the tools to translate the visual into the digital."



"The first SIGGRAPH conference was in Boulder Colorado in 1974, where 600 people attended. At the time the fledgling, and poorly defined industry was estimated to be worth $540 million dollars (the equivalent in today's dollars would be $2.3 billion)," the report includes.



JPR with its ongoing work studying the hardware and software used in computer graphics is in a unique position to provide a snap shot of the computer graphics industry. The evolution in computer graphics hardware enables more people to appreciate, and, if they want to, create their own works of graphic art on the computer. It has been a long road, but low cost processors are enabling more and more people to work with computer graphics. There is an even larger group of people who have come to appreciate the ability of computers to communicate incredible amounts of information and emotion through visual data.


In addition to the basic elements of CG, such as the hardware and software that have gone into the market analysis shown above, there are adjacent industries such as schools that teach CG, and visualization and design laboratories where everything from airplanes and automobile to toothbrushes and mobile phones are developed.



Related links:




JPR Activities at SIGGRAPH 2012

Jon Peddie Research

Shotgun 4.0

Thu 26th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012



Shotgun Software is announcing not only a new version of its production management software Shotgun 4.0, but going further in bringing Mass Versioning software together with a private beta of Revolver 0.5.  The new version will be released officially on July 30.




Shotgun will have the new software rolled out over their servers in the next days and will show their offering at SIGGRAPH.   With a new 'App' framework, the Shotgun application has a new Crew Planning application, which allows you to see all the artists and crew in your studio, and simply helps you see when they are available to work on what project.  It couldn't be easier. Shotgun 4.0 with new add-on apps like Review Notes and Revolver, all set to go.  Clients with locally installed servers can contact our deploy team to schedule an update.


Shotgun will be doing demos of these new releases of their and sharing sneak peeks of other projects at its annual 'Client Board Meeting', held Tuesday August 7 at 2:00-3:30 PM in room 303A.


Oh, and they are hiring.  Have a look at some of their position descriptions.




Related links:





Houdini reel

Thu 26th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Side Effects Software is proud to release the 2012 Demo Reel featuring the work of Houdini customers worldwide.




From Dreamworks Animation in LA to Blue Sky Studios in New York, to Image Engine in Vancouver and Axis Animation in Scotland this has been a busy year for VFX. The high quality work shown in this reel is a small sampling of all the completed shots and demonstrates the power of Houdini's animation and VFX tools.






Related links:


SIDEFX Houdini


Thu 26th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012



Lars Erik Holmquist is the Chair of SIGGRAPH Mobile as well as the Principal Research chair at Yahoo! Labs.


Last December, the SIGGRAPH Asia conference in Hong Kong introduced a new program titled the Symposium on Apps.  The reaction to the displays and presentations was so acute that, the program is now being shown at SIGGRAPH here in Los Angeles, with the similar name of SIGGRAPH Mobile.  It was a great way to showcase the applied and business side of mobile applications. "For SIGGRAPH Mobile, we want to not only retain that, but also delve deeper into what makes mobile graphics great," says Lars Erik Holmquist, the Chair of SIGGRAPH Mobile. "To this end, we have lined up exciting mobile graphics hardware and software presentations with many of the top providers and leading academics. This is a great development and gives the LA program a unique feel."


The program starts early in the week with a basic introductory iOS graphics tutorial and an introduction of the mobile web framework Cocktails and Mojito. During the main presentation days, there is content ranging from intermediate to advanced, from a panel of some of the biggest mobile GPU vendors to presentations on how to use mobile graphics in settings ranging from advertisements to in-car applications.



"Hanging out in the demo area is a great way for an observer or passive user to become introduced to this new technology," adds Lars. "If you want to get your hands dirty, several tutorials will give you a first taste of developing mobile graphics and apps. And if you want to know how to transform your existing SIGGRAPH knowledge into the mobile world, much of the program is dedicated to showing techniques and frameworks that can optimize that process."



Everyone these days carries the equivalent of a supercomputer in their pocket. The powerful mobile GPUs can develop high-quality interactive graphics (both 2D and 3D) in shorter times and with higher cross-device compatibility. Of course there are heat issues and power limits in phones, but Lars sees the possibilities of higher resolution displays as being very exciting indeed. "Once that level of detail is attained, level is reached, the industry needs to optimize other aspects of the visuals, such as color reproduction and power consumption," he says.



Holmquist is working on some interesting projects at Yahoo! Labs at the moment. "We are working on some incredibly interesting techniques to make the real world searchable and available for information processing. Imagine if you could do a search for your lost wallet, much like you search the Internet for web pages today, and the system would tell you that you left it on the kitchen table! Or what if a store down the street could access your wardrobe and automatically recommend a tie that goes well with your shirts, much like Amazon recommends books based on your and others’ purchases? We call this hyper-personalization, and it has the potential to change how we live and interact with the physical world in the future."


What's in store:

Panel - Mobile GPUs: Markets and Technology
WEDNESDAY, 8 AUGUST 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Los Angeles Convention Center - Room 406AB

Understanding Mobile Graphics - GPUs and Platforms (SIGGRAPH Mobile Talks)
WEDNESDAY, 8 AUGUST 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM | Los Angeles Convention Center - Room 406AB


Mobile Graphics – Hardware and Software Techniques (SIGGRAPH Mobile Talks)
WEDNESDAY, 8 AUGUST 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM | Los Angeles Convention Center - Room 406AB

Mobile Applications – In Your Hand and On the Road (SIGGRAPH Mobile Talks)
WEDNESDAY, 8 AUGUST 3:45 PM - 5:15 PM | Los Angeles Convention Center - Room 406AB



Inspired by SIGGRAPH Asia 2011's popular Symposium on Apps, SIGGRAPH Mobile is also being staged at SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 in Singapore come November 30.  Lars Erik Holmquist is also Chair at the show over there.

Related links:





Wed 25th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


There is a line up of some interesting releases planned for SIGGRAPH, some under EMBARGO and some being already touted in the many feeds and sites for each company. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it will grow as the event gets closer.

First of all, NVIDIA will reveal some of their new developer tools on Wednesday in room 503, in a day of exploring GPUs in CG and interactive design. There are eight talks in total for the day, admittedly going from 9am, right thru til 6pm, so here is the list of the details as sent by the NVIDIA  people. NVIDIA have presentations by Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky Studios, Chaos Group and The Foundry on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Booths #634 and #735.


Watch out also for the live streaming videos of these presentations, for those not at SIGGRAPH this year. They are available from links on the right of this post.


9-10:30 am
GPU Programming for High-Performance Graphics Workstation Applications.


10:40-11:40 am
Enabling the Next-Generation of Computational Graphics With Nsight Visual Studio Edition.


11:50 am-12:50 pm
NVIDIA OpenGL in 2012.


1-1:30 pm
What’s New in CUDA 5.


1:30-2:30 pm
Four Approaches to GPU Computing.


2:40-3:40 pm
GPU-Accelerated 2D and Web Rendering.


3:50-4:50 pm
GPU Ray Tracing and OptiX.


5-6 pm
NVIDIA GPU Virtualization.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Side Effects Software has a few secrets also in their waistcoat pocket, ready for the SIGGRAPH Trade floor to open. The icon left is the only clue they can show just now.  See them at the Houdini Booth at #528.  


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


ZYNC has announced its also coming to SIGGRAPH.  The could rendering and storage technology company is hosting a party with Shotgun, and sharing the stage at The Foundry's Geekfest. After two years of use in both Maya and Nuke, ZYNC's pre-release program now includes 10 facilities, with plans to add another 15 before the January commercial launch. ZYNC's massive pre-release success has been demonstrated in the vfx heavy trailer for the forthcoming Robert Zemeckis/Denzel Washington film "Flight." All 395 of the film's visual effects shots were rendered in the cloud with ZYNC by Atomic Fiction, the sole vfx vendor. In addition, 225 shots for the upcoming Kevin James film 'Here Comes the Boom' were provided by Zero Visual Effects, who also used ZYNC exclusively for rendering.


ZYNC has established partnerships with key vfx software vendors The Foundry, NVIDIA/Mental Images, Chaos Group, Solid Angle and Oktobor Animation Software. In addition, ZYNC is working closely with Shotgun Software to provide integration into their platform which will allow users to launch and monitor ZYNC renders directly from Shotgun.


Related links:







Noisy Boy at SIGGRAPH

Tue 24th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Real Steel's seven foot tall robot will storm into SIGGRAPH.

When it comes to being in the presence of something completely and utterly awesome, there is nothing to compare with the Noisy Boy robot from Real Steel.  Not a 'pretend' mock up but the Real Deal. (No pun intended.)



The practical seven foot robot will make an appearance at the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival's Production Session on Tuesday, 10:45am in the West Hall B.  After the session, the Noisy Boy robot will be moved to another secure location so photographs can be taken with it.



The DreamWorks' 'Real Steel' was celebrated not just because it had some sensational fight sequences with CG Robots, but also, the seamless work done to morph between CG and practical robots as needed.   An insane production schedule was hacked thru, where the virtual production unit had to pack up and move to Detroit, compress the shooting schedule to 71 days and do the whole thing without any back up of a second unit.  Hmm, sounds like an Australian production I was on, but I digress.



Moderated by Academy Award winning VFX Supervisor Michael Fink who is enough of an attraction already, the panel includes the VFX Supervisor Erik Nash Associate Producer Ron Ames, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg from Digital Domain, as well as John Rosengrant from Legacy Effects. They will show progressions, models, moCap sessions, and share some stories about the construction of this amazing movie. This is one of the hits of 2012.



To hear Erik Nash talk about the project, DD has supplied this link of a talk from their site.


Image credit: Copyright DreamWorks II Distribution Co,. LLC, All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Digital Domain.


Related links:


Real Steel at SIGGRAPH 2012

Rebecca Strzelec

Thu 19th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Rebecca Strzelec took on the role of Conference Chair of SIGGRAPH 2012 in 2009, with a clear view of what was in store.  She'd had a very good overview of the many positions in the volunteer bands. Sub-Committee member, Program Chair, Contributor and Attendee. So she thought she'd find it rewarding and challenging to be a part of the conference planning at the next level.



"Chairs and teams for the programs of SIGGRAPH take on a ton of work which takes them away from their lives and their jobs and there's also a lot of travel involved, over the course of the planning cycle," says Rebecca Strzelec. She had been looking for the best people for the positions of the chairs and making sure they were the right people for the team. Somehow she's found that those she has approached have been up to the task, enthusiastic and inventive in their work.  "I suppose that is what I most looking forward to: celebrating the SIGGRAPH 2012 Committee for all of their achievements. They are an outstanding group of people that made my job really fun and rewarding," she adds.



SIGGRAPH exhibits and publishes some of the most exciting and groundbreaking art and art papers in the world in the context of computer graphics and interactive techniques. The international juries that select this work are major contributors to their fields—going to great lengths to choose work that adds to the dialogue of art and art research.



Strzelec's history as a craft artist has helped her focus ACM's concerted efforts to support the art areas of its conference. This year there is a new project collaboration with Leonardo, from MIT, the Journal of the International Society of the Arts, Sciences and Technology. "Also, the Art Gallery and Art Papers have undergone rigorous selection thresholds to make sure the very best art and research can be brought into the conference this year," Strzelec says.


So much of SIGGRAPH's programs are collaborative. The committees needed to be filled with people who are experts in their own field but also work well with others. As an example, Lars Erik Holmquist is Chair for the SIGGRAPH Mobile program at SIGGRAPH.  Clearly a specialist in that field, he approached the committees with the proposal of the concept, which is what people do when they want to bring new streams into the conference. Lars Erik Holmquist is chairing the return of SIGGRAPH Asia's Symposium on Apps in Singapore this year as well. "One thing SIGGRAPH does really well, is we cover a lot of bases,"




"When the people who design high-end clothing, work alongside those designing the technology of augmented reality," adds Strzelec, "this is when newly practical and aesthetically pleasing applications will appear, and SIGGRAPH is just the kind of event where you will see these two disciplines merging."


The designers of the theme have done a great job of capturing the signature of this year's SIGGRAPH, which is the collaborative flavours of Art and Science. "Most SIGGRAPH content ticks both boxes," quips Strzelec. "It's actually unusual to have gathering of so many people who could define themselves either as 'science' or define themselves as 'art' and those worlds collide at SIGGRAPH and that's what makes it so special."




"The theme is actually a multi-year endeavor. SIGGRAPH is made up of more than just Art and Science and there are more segments to the population," hints Strzelec.

Related links:


Jon Landau

Thu 19th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Avatar producer to join the High Frame Rate panel at SIGGRAPH.


The producer of AVATAR and Titanic Jon Landau, has confirmed his participation in the Christie-moderated SIGGRAPH 3D High-Frame Rate panel, joining Doug Trumbull, Dennis Muren and other cinema industry leaders, listed below.




As the Platinum Sponsor of SIGGRAPH 2012, Christie is proud to host the SIGGRAPH HFR Panel, 'High Frame Rate Cinema, Impacts on Art and Technology,' to be held Wednesday, August, 8 at 10:45am, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Hall K. The panel will feature 10 cinema industry leaders, led by Gordon E. Sawyer Academy Award winner Douglas Trumbull and Dennis Muren, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic. It will be moderated by Paul Salvini, chief technology officer (CTO) of Christie.  The company is the first in the world to publically demonstrate 3D High Frame Rate (HFR) projection technology using a single projector.



“The SIGGRAPH HFR panel will explore the technology behind high-frame-rate cinema, and look at what it will mean to producers of content and to the audience experience,” noted Paul Salvini.  “The panelists are pioneers in their fields, addressing the challenges of HFR across the entire workflow, to provide the post-production and visual effects communities with important guidance regarding the challenges and rewards of developing HFR content for the exhibition community.”


Additional panelists include:

·  Jim Beshears, Head of Post-production at DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., oversees all aspects of the studio's self-contained editorial and post-production facilities.



·  Matthew Cowan, co-founder of Entertainment Technology Consultants and currently Chief Scientific Officer at RealD, of California, developed RealD’s successful 3D cinema system.

·  Darin Grant, Chief Technology Officer, Digital Domain Media Group, is responsible for the overall technology strategy for the company and its many subsidiaries.


·  John Helliker is Founder/Director of Sheridan College’s SIRT Centre, a research and training facility focused on digital workflow innovations including HFR and virtual production.

·  Luke Moore, Director of Special Projects at Canada’s Side Effects Software, in Toronto, is responsible for identifying and addressing the unique technical challenges faced by studios using the popular Houdini VFX and Animation software.



·  Phil Oatley is Head of Technology at New Zealand-based Park Road Post Production, where his visionary talents have guided the company through incredible growth, including establishing key partnerships to promote HFR research and development.

·  Dr. Lincoln Wallen, Head of Research and Development at Dreamworks Animation, in California, and formerly CTO at Electronic Arts Mobile.


“As the first licensee to market digital cinema projection based on Texas Instruments’ revolutionary DLP Cinema® technology, Christie has remained an industry leader, helping the post-production and exhibition communities with the latest-generation products, service, and technical expertise,” noted Paul Salvini.  “We are proud to moderate this panel, which brings together true industry visionaries to discuss HFR, the next phase of the digital cinema revolution.”


Among the future movies to feature HFR is the sequel to James Cameron’s “Avatar,” as well as Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit,“ both of which will also be presented in stereoscopic 3D.



Related links:




SIGGRAPH 2012 Cheat Sheet

Wed 18th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


The Computer Graphic community, both student body and a major share of professionals, are taking to the airports and highways this August, tearing their way (at a sensible speed of course) over to Los Angeles. Back in what has become the part-time home town, staged at the Los Angeles Convention Center, SIGGRAPH 2012 is promising to be as big and as ground breaking as ever.

Let's get down into it, otherwise this Cheat Sheet will online as we get back onto planes to go home……

Open from 8am until 6pm on Sunday, and through the week.

Full Conference Access - This is for one with the lot.  The full enchilada. Can be for the full conference every day or just for a particular day.  Like one of those Access All Areas tickets.  This will actually get you in everywhere except the Business Symposium on Sunday.


Full Conference Access prices.
ACM SIGGRAPH Member Online or on the day: US$1,170;
Non-Member On the day: US$1,320;
Student Member On the day: US$495


One Day Full Conference Pass
ACM SIGGRAPH Member Online or on the day: US$425;
Non-Member On the day: US$475;
Student Member On the day: US$225



Computer Animation Festival - again for the full time or just for one day.  Awesomely entertaining cross section of final resulting vision of the industries. Includes Electronic Theater, the Production Sessions, Real Time Live! plus the Trade exhibition.


Full Festival Pass
ACM SIGGRAPH Member Online or on the day: US$175;
Non-Member On the day: US$200;
Student Member On the day: US$150

One day Pass
ACM SIGGRAPH Member On the day: US$50;
Non-Member On the day: US$50;
Student Member On the day: US$50

Basic  -  This ticket brings you the Art Gallery, all the Birds of a Feather meetings.  Emerging Technologies the Exhibitor Tech Talks, the Key Speakers. Also Job Fair, Posters, Studio and all days of the Trade Exhibition.

Basic Conference Access
ACM SIGGRAPH Member Online or on the day: US$150;
Non-Member On the day: US$175;

Basic Conference Plus Pass
ACM SIGGRAPH Member On the day: US$320;
Non-Member On the day: US$375;
Student Member On the day: US$300

Basic Conference Plus Pass
ACM SIGGRAPH Member On the day: US$320;
Non-Member  On the day: US$375;
Student Member On the day: US$300




9-5:30 [All Day]
Business Symposium.        US$500 or US$175 with purchase of a Full Conference Week Pass.
Now in its second run, this day provides a welcoming neutral setting for open discussions between producers and executives who are looking closely at how to steer the industry's futures. There are two featured speakers, PDI Founder Carl Rosenthal and Digital Domain's John Textor.


Stereo: More than meets the Eye.
Janathan Karafin from Digital Domain's Stereo Group brings us thru the minefield of prepping, shooting and conversion for full feature blockbuster stereo production.

Panel     Room 403AB
The Battle for Motion-Controlled Gaming.  Sixense, Microsoft, Sony and others battle out the different ways of capturing motion for their games.


The Invisible Art: History of Matte Painting in the Digital Age.   Craig Barron from Matte World Digital takes you thru glass paintings, 3D projections, to today's software generated matte backgrounds.


Technical Papers Fast Forward.  West Hall B.   This is the best way to find out the most compelling Technical Papers on show during the week. A quick flash of genius on stage for the researchers to pitch their paper with a performance.


Unofficial CGTalk Meetup, Bonaventura Brewery, 4th Floor rear of Westin Bonventura Hotel.


CAF Production Session  Pixomondo Presents Hugo: A Cinematic Convergence of 3D and Visual Effects. 
The panel is a line up of high-end crew at Pixomondo who brought the rigorous effects and other challenges together for this Oscar winner. Full CG in full screen stereo. New Deal Studio joins in as well.


'Head in the Clouds'
Blue Sky Studios and DreamWorks talk about rendering in the Cloud and Volumetric Fracturing.

Panels Room 502AB
Virtual Production Branches Out.  A very cool collection experts talk about the new ways actors and directors interact and stories are told. Moderated by Ray Feeney of RFX Inc., this is a great taster for the other Weta Production Session on Wednesday with Joe Letteri.


The Award Presentations   West Hall B
This is where Greg Turk is awarded the Computer Graphics Achievement Award; Karen Liu the Significant New Researcher Award; Jean-Pierre Hébert gets the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art, and David Kasik receives the ACM SIGGRAPH Outstanding Service Award.

Keynote Speaker: Jane McGonical  Author of 'Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they can Change the World'.  Will be interesting to hear the next stage of her many projects.


Room 408B
Award Talks
See above.


'Surf & Turf'
Disney, Naughty Dog, EA, Relic and Petroglyph talk about rendering water and worlds.


Material: The Gathering
Paul Debevec and Abhijeet Ghosh from USC ICT and a the crew from RTT talk about successfully lighting CG cloth sims.


CAF Production Session Building Disney•Pixar’s 'Brave': Pencils to Pixels
Bringing in curl simulations, in bouncy haired Merida, the PIXAR crew shows the wrangling of bangs and lighting of sprites.

Birds of a Feather
The 25th Anniversary CG
Show/Sake Barrel Opening Party

SIGGRAPH Chapters Party, at Exchange LA.  (buses are available until 11pm from the Marriott)


SIGGRAPH Conference Reception, at JW Marriott Hotel




Art Papers


NVIDIA Exhibitor Sessions all day.


Studio Workshop
ZBrush: Artists without Borders


CAF Production Session.
Sony Pictures Animation show off their best work in the 'Hotel Travsylvania' animated feature.


The SIGGRAPH Trade Exhibition opens.


The SIGGRAPH Job Fair opens


CAF Production Session.  Digital Domain shows how they created Real Steel in Detroit in seamless CG, with rope-to-rope CG in 71 days and no backup crew.  Michael Fink moderating.


CAF Production Session.  Vying for attention at the same time, is a panel from Sony Pictures Imageworks to discuss the production of Men In Black 3.


Exhibitor Tech Talk
Unity Technologies – Unity Art Pipeline, Butterfly Demo.

Poster Presentations


12:45-1:45 pm
Exhibitor Tech Talk
AMD FirePro Advanced 3D Graphic and Compute Features, AMD FirePro 3D Graphics and Compute Combined on Latest GPU
Architecture in Deep Dive.


CAF Production Session.  The Amazing Spider-Man is taken apart with digital environments and spectacular animated sequences. One could just stay here in the big hall and watch these all day.


Exhibitor Tech Talk
Next Limit Technologies – RealFlow 2013 Technology Preview


CAF Production Session.  Key artists from Rhythm & Hues talks about the history of film making and their part in its success.

Technical Papers
Fun with Video.  Some crazy great effects are brought into play in this session of demonstrations by some guys at Cornell.


Exhibitor Tech Talk: Imagination Technologies Limited – Accelerating Look Development With Rhinoceros
with Interactive Ray-Traced Viewports.

SIGGRAPH Dailies!  




Tech Talks Room 503
Explore the impact of GPUs on state-of-the-art CG and interactive design. Join NVIDIA for eight engaging talks and technical deep dives covering everything from advanced ray tracing and rendering to tessellation.

CAF Production Session  ILM reviews the CG work in Battleship, destruction and simulation technology was rebuilt for this production. The team tells how.


CAF Production Session     Doug Trumbull and Dennis Muren bring a few friends in to talk about the new High Frame Rate Cinema. The technique is explained and discussed.

Poster Presentations


9-10:30am and 10:45am-12:15pm
As part of the take-up of the Symposium on Apps concept from SIGGRAPH Asia, two panels begin to cover off the many new aspects of this medium. development, power, display, platform. Lars Erik Holmquist chairs this exciting program.

12:45-1:45 pm
Exhibitor Tech Talks
Web3D Consortium – Delivering New Dimensions on the Web.


Art Gallery tours.
If you have time, get over to the Art Gallery and take part in one of three Gallery tours, 'In search of the Miraculous'. At this time, Monday thru to Wednesday.



CAF Production Session.  DreamWorks Animation VFX Supervisors spill the beans on the ways they spend their lives bringing productions together with differing visual requirements.


2-3:30pm and 3:45-5:15pm
SIGGRAPH Mobile Talks
Mobile Applications – In your hand and on the road.


PANDA: Panoramas, Displays and Acquisition.


CAF Production Session  Weta Digital presents Virtual Production. Joe Letteri presents Tintin and Avatar's virtual production techniques and discusses how it was so successful in bringing the best directors over.


Real-Time Live!



John Carter Scales Up.
Cinesite and DNeg show off some facial capture techniques and stereo conversion for the John Carter movie. This is bound to be big.


CAF Production Session  Leads from Walt Disney Animation Studio talk about Paperman which uses hand-drawn techniques as well as digital media.  B&W, simple story and a small intimate group of animators.


Hairy Scary  Rm 403AB
The Hair simulation team from Pixar talk about the massive calculation required for the correct bounce. I referenced this talk in my article in late June.  This one I must see.


Technical Papers
Mesh-based Fluids. Simulating smoke, explosive action and hot air movement, the Lagrangian Vortex is explained, (thankfully) in these enthralling displays.  Looking forward to this one.


CAF Production Session
Student Research Competition Final Competition.  Thursday 2-3:30pm


PANDA: Panoramas, Displays and Acquisition.



See you in Anaheim next year!


Related links:



Mon 16th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


As the big event approaches, I've been digging around doing research on the many sessions, programs and people involved in the staging of the 2012 SIGGRAPH. Some papers and product releases have some fascinating accompanying video content. Starting off with the Preview videos for the Computer Animation Festival, I have listed some here for your viewing.  I'll pop more up as they come to light.

SIGGRAPH 2012 : Computer Animation Festival Trailer

SIGGRAPH 2012 : Emerging Technologies

Jane McGonical (SIGGRAPH 2012 Keynote), talks at TED 2010.


Adaptive Image-based Intersection Volume (SIGGRAPH 2012)

A method for image-based contact detection and modeling, with guaranteed precision on the intersection volume.


Technical Papers - Collisions; Wednesday 3:45-5:45pm group. Chaired by Jernej Barbic of USC.  


Selectively De-Animating Video

This team from Berkeley presents a semi-automated technique for selectively de-animating video to remove the large-scale motions of one or more objects so that other motions are easier to see.

Paper link:

Technical Papers: Fun with Video. Tuesday 3:45-5:35pm group, chaired by Noah Snavely from Cornell University.


Lagrangian Vortex Sheets for Animating Fluids.

Buoyant turbulent smoke plumes with a sharp smoke-air interface, such as volcanic plumes, are notoriously hard to simulate. The surface clearly shows small-scale turbulent structures which are costly to resolve. In addition, the turbulence onset is directly visible at the interface, and is not captured by commonly used turbulence models. This team presents a novel approach that employs a triangle mesh as a high-resolution surface representation combined with a coarse Eulerian solver.

Technical Papers: Mesh based Fluids. Thursday 2-3:30pm. Session chaired by Chris Wojtan of IST Austria.




Related links:





SIGGRAPH by Smartphone

Mon 16th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012


Keeping track and how to get there. SIGGRAPH by Smartphone.  

There is another great way to keep track of all of those sessions.


Like last year in Vancouver, and back in Los Angeles in 2010, Skitten has just made it just a little easier, and collated very valid info into '.ics' and '.xml' files, ready to be dumped into your smartphone Calendar App, or Google Calendar.  The best part is they are split into Events, Talks, Courses, and with others being prepped at the moment, it will one of the best ways to have up-to-date info with you always, including Room number for your session.  Once you have downloaded these, you can switch back to Airport mode and save on data.



To get you from the Airport, SIGGRAPH 2012 has partnered with Super Shuttle to offer transportation to and from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), to the LACC area hotels.



While a shared ride in one of their blue vans is $13 per passenger (usually $18) you can be waiting at LAX for the van to fill up to nine passengers. The Town Car Service thru ExuCar (using the SIGGRAPH discount code) is $69 per sedan (up to four passengers) on the way in from LAX to the Staples Center area. These can be booked online or over the phone. If you have to get away from LA after the conference, the fee reverts to $63 for a car of four. These discounted rates are valid from five days before the conference to five days after it closes.


There are other ways to get from Los Angeles airport to the Staples Center area. Take a bus, or take a Metro Train. This pops you up just across the road from the Convention Center. (LA is on a TAP system now), and there is an App for that as well.



The Metro App   [iPhone]


If you're an LA local, you'll know most of this.  But I'm finding all kinds of advice and Apps and discount codes for getting from place to place and I'll drop them in here for you to judge.   Of course, you can always spend a small fortune on a cab ride from LAX to LACC, which I know is about $65.


Related links:



Real-Time Live! chair

Mon 9th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012



Jason RM Smith is the Chair of the Real Time Live! program at SIGGRAPH 2012 as well as Digital Production Supervisor at LucasArts.


By Smith's own reckoning, the new Real-Time Live! program is where cutting edge new trends in interactive techniques are displayed. He is confident that what attendees will see will test their knowledge of what is available in a real-time basis in the industry and front of shop in the next year. "In five short years, it's clear the pace is picking up," he says. "It's hard to imagine what Real-Time Live! will look like in a few years from now, let alone another five."


In the ten pieces showing at SIGGRAPH 2012, Real-Time Live covers all areas of computer graphics. Strategy and FPS games, medical visualisation, engineering, racing, Kinect and others. Bringing up the time each presentation runs to ten minutes gives more chance for spectacular demonstrations.  Being shown in West Hall B, on Wednesday from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, the range includes visul effects from Naughty Dog's Uncharted 3, Unreal Engine 4's Elemental, Star Wars 1313, Brigade and Beauty.



"Real-Time Live! has accepted submissions from multi-million dollar commercial projects and amazing, independent solo from completely different industries, side by side on stage," explains Smith. "Real-Time Live! provides the first opportunity to peek behind the curtain on these new projects."


Smith also mentions there will be some world-exclusives with new footage and breakdown from a number of huge titles and technology projects, including material from Square-Enix, LucasArts, Epic Games and Unigine.


Related links:


Real-Time Live!


Mon 9th Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | siggraph2012



The CGSociety SIGGRAPH 2012 Diary is officially open.


Welcome to the CGSociety 2012 annual SIGGRAPH Diary, a tradition we've upheld since 2006 when SIGGRAPH was held in Boston. Here I'll give you as much insight as I can while the event approaches. Also included will be some inside hints and sneak looks at presentations.



I am working on some interviews of key players, as well as the Cheat Sheet with different flavors for Science, and Art. This will be much like the differing and cooperative flavors of this year's SIGGRAPH itself.



I'll also keep you up to date on those events at SIGGRAPH that mean much to those here to network. The parties and gatherings are to some, what make the travel, copious note taking and hot weather worth standing in line for the fifth jet plane and shuttle bus to get here.

The biggest and most popular sessions at SIGGRAPH are the Computer Animation Festival's Production Sessions. On offer this year is veritable smorgasbord of blockbuster exposé's from Pixomondo on HUGO, Pixar on Brave, ILM on Avengers and Imageworks on The Amazing Spider-Man. But I'll be taking a few steps into the mysterious as well. There are jewels to be found in the Art Gallery, Emerging Technologies, Courses, Panels, Birds of a Feather and SV areas as well.



NVIDIA is having an event, Khronos OpenGL celebrates 20 years, and SideFX, the makers of Houdini will be hosting a 25 Year Anniversary in business. There's some events to start conversations in, right there.


As the event arrives, for those unable to make the trip, I'll dive right in and take you through the events as they unfold. I'll post blog entries and photos, cover the events, even stream live bulletins as they are available from many of our sponsors.

    Stay tuned.


Related links:


Advanced Program for SIGGRAPH 2012


blog comments powered by Disqus