SIGGRAPH Asia - Final Day

Fri 16th Dec 2011, by Lazius Kaye | siggraphasia2011


 

An interesting part of the Show Floor this year was the exhibition area where the Emerging Technologies was showcased. The range included a '360-degree Fog Projection Interactive Display' by the University of Osaka. This features a 3D view of an object to observers as they walk around a fog display. Depending on their position, a different outlook can be viewed and the object appears to be floating in mid-air, where attendees could also interact with it using finger-tracking.

 

Another couple of cool Emerging Technologies included the Kinect-based Facial Animation from the Polytechnic Federal School of Lausanne in France. This software enables any user to control facial expressions of a digital character in real time using the commercially available Microsoft Kinect 3D sensor.

 

Ken Perlin has received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his noise and turbulence procedural texturing techniques. Perlin demonstrated one the technologies that he is working on, as one of the Featured Speakers of the conference.

 

 

This was a real time user interface that would enable him to create shapes out of thin air. It was quite magical and everyone was very entertained as these shapes then appeared on a screen were manipulated, as well as animated through a simple set of hand gestures and a digital screen.

 

Still in research stages, one day he would like people to have the ability to use this technology as a visual aid; targeting teachers or anyone who needs to make a presentation. However, he still stressed that the best technology out there is the pencil and the white board.

 

 

I also checked out the Behind the Scenes of Dreamworks' KungFu Panda 2 presented by Raymon Zibach, project manager & Phil Craven Head of Story.

Their inspirational trip to China affected their creative process, where they noted that actually seeing and holding a real baby Panda helped them to develop the most loveable 3D animated version for their scene where Poh was an infant.


Another really cool seminar was the RenderMan talk by Pixar. That very evening they unveiled their first Cloud Rendering technology which promises a drastic cut in rendering times and a more cost effective solution.

 

 

There was also an interesting Stereoscopic session by OSCAM. They showcased their latest technology which includes the ability to prepare files for PCs and separate them for other devices like mobile. They also talked about their new non linear parameter mapping, and how they can separate 2D and 3D cameras, so each camera can work independently.

 

As someone trying to find out more about this industry, the most insightful part was to learn that people in the industry are not looking for candidates that can showcase high-end rendered show reels when starting out. Most I spoke with, just want people that have passion, great ideas and that can show they can work as part of a team.

 

 

Once in the job, most provide the training, so there is no need to learn how to use every single software package either. The studios mentioned we should make sure our reels should to be targeted, tailor-made and kept strictly under two minutes sharp.

 

Finally, at the end of the event, there was the opportunity to unwind during the Computer Animation Festival. Showcasing over two hours of new and existing talents' work. Some to check out include 'The Saga of Biorn' by The Animation Workshop, 'Mr. Choco in love' by Petr Marek, the SIGGRAPH Best Student Work Award went to 'Last Fall', SIGGRAPH Best Jury Award 'Paths of Fate' and SIGGRAPH Best of Show Award went to 'la Détente'.

SIGGRAPH Asia Wrap up

Sun 18th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Held over four days in this cool week in the city of Hong Kong, SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 has brought over 7,500 artists, technicians, scientists and researchers, coming in from 53 countries around the planet.

 

Stories and visionary prose brought up in the featured speakers' talks, together with the prototype demonstrations of future products brought out to be shown by university teams like the robotic teams from New Zealand, the panoramic camera ball from Germany and Bill Buxton's view on creative application, have filled the attendees with a new sense of creative self-worth.

 

The range of displays, featured speakers, trade show presentations and the all important technical sessions and presentations from the many companies and luminaries present, I think the Hong Kong show has solidified SIGGRAPH Asia as being in the big league of trade shows of this genre.

 

Pioneers this year included Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research; Don Greenberg, Director, Cornell University Program of Computer Graphics; Ken Perlin, Director of the New York University Center for Advanced Technology; Paul Debevec, Associate Director, Graphics Research, University of Southern California; and Robert Neuman, Stereoscopic Supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

 

In all, over 300 presentations as well as panel discussions and talks were held across the programs, generating robust discussions and deep insights on current and future developments in the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

 

“It is truly an exciting time to be working with applications and services for the consumer markets,” said Zeyneb Ahmet of Stockholm University. Ahmet was part of a panel discussion about the future of Mobile Applications. “Our session was well-attended, and we continued to receive feedback and questions from enthusiastic participants way after the session was over. I hope the Symposium on Apps will be a regular program in SIGGRAPH Asia, as a platform that showcases an important application of computer graphics advancements”.

 


Notably, several sessions at the Symposium on Apps program were focused on mobile augmented reality applications, in tandem with increasing interest in how mobile devices are opening up new opportunities for merging real and virtual worlds. Augmented reality was also a pervasive topic across the conference, featuring in the Art Gallery, Emerging Technologies and Technical Sketches and Posters programs.

 


Education in CG was a vital theme in Hong Kong as well.  DreamWorks, Jinan University, Media Design School from New Zealand, the Scandinavian College of the Arts, The One Academy and the Singapore Polytechnic discussed at great length, the changing curriculum within the world’s education spaces compared to what the industry requires. 

 

 

The Trade floor was a little sparse than I thought it would be, but the strength of presence coming from those here made up for the shortness in numbers, given as 122 exhibitors at last count. Side Effects Software and the Chaos Group straddled the front entrance, vying for attention with continuous displays and presentations over the three days the floor was open.

SIGGRAPH Asia - Day Three

Wed 14th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

NVIDIA Pandora was demonstrated to the walk-up audience up at Room S221 this morning. First in a presentation by NVIDIA to the press and then the demonstration was opened up to the public. Pandora is true 'rendering in the cloud' as is soon to be released, 'into the sky'.

 

 

Project Pandora harnesses the compute power of a GPU cluster on any Flash-capable PC running 3ds Max and iray. This allows 3ds Max users to add virtual dual-GPU rendering machines to their workflow on demand. Unlike 'batch' network rendering – where each machine renders one frame – Project Pandora coordinates the entire cluster to accelerate the current frame. Jobs that used to take over a day can now be done in under an hour by leveraging dozens of cloud nodes.

 

As soon as the scenes are in the Pandora cloud environment, the results can be seen in a web browser, and that means very little waiting time for the clients. Artists can bring photorealistic tours from a tablet or phone, or any PC the client is viewing from.  Project Pandora is in public Beta testing right now and will be available soon.

 

Previewed in the CGSociety site some months ago, I was finally able to check out and personally test the Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera in the Emerging Technologies area of the Hong Kong show this week.  Actually they had a spot within the ETech halls but there were too many times where throwing of the ball presented, er, height problems, they relocated out to the foyer.  The idea of the Ball, as described by Jonas Pfeil, is that the ball takes a 360-degree shot at the apex of it's climb.  The extra feature is the showing of the file on an iPad using a kind of virtual camera. 

 

 

Later in the evening, the SIGGRAPH Asia Networking Reception began at the Cyberport, on the other side of Hong Kong Island. Of course, having had a few things to research and write, I missed the last bus out to the location, so I teamed up with a couple of similarly time-poor SIGGRAPHers, Ted, who didn't have a card, a game artist from Montreal with no ties, who is travelling bewteen jobs at the moment, and Jean-Marie, an engineer who is checking out his first SIGGRAPH.   Well we made it out there just in time after the speeches and dug into some networking.

CG work in Asia.

Wed 14th Dec 2011, by Lazius Kaye | siggraphasia2011


 

How is an outsider to prepare in order to get into this competitive industry? No matter who you are, following your dream is never easy.

 

Armed with a Swiss Army knife of excitement, I went to SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 to find out. LucasArts, Pixar, Dreamworks, Double Negative and many of the Asian companies were here.

 

Coming from a previous corporate background, the first thing I noticed was how casual everyone appeared. This lead me to ask Christoph Zollinger, VFX Producer of Pixomondo, if a suit was required during an interview to which he replied:  “not required, just references to show who you are, is”.

 

Does a foreigner need to learn Mandarin if he/she wants to move to Asia? For mainland China, more than seven companies including Bitmap 3D Technology, Morpheus & Crimson Forest, said it is. On the other hand, Pixomondo which also has an office in Beijing, said “taxi Chinese is good enough”.

 

For Hong Kong, more than six companies including The Foundry, Many Many Creations, Menfond, and Contact Singapore said it is not.
Coding languages like C++ and Flash are in higher demand.  “We need more TD’s”, commented Andy Chen, Operating Officer of Crimson Forest. This is something that many companies I spoke with agreed with.  A TD can be a texture artist, modeler, lighter, rigger, but also has technical knowledge.

 

However, according to Jenny, who works for a China based company, Original Force, said “only riggers need to know some scripting”. LucasArts also use a lot of scripts for their rigs, but according to Bobby Butcher, their Recruitment Manager for Singapore, “modelers and textures don’t have too”.

 

A total of around ten of the twenty five companies I interviewed shared a similar view. So what about the other skills that are required to get into the industry?
“I love strokes, painted strokes. Show me something that is hand done”, adds Charles Lee from TWR (The White Rabbit Animation). All companies said that painting or drawing is a must including The Foundry.

 

High quality rendered images, or knowing all software, is not necessary.  “We can tell when someone has the eye for what we’re looking for. When doing a show reel, start with a bang. We’ll provide the tools to teach people how to progress in their career”, comments Victoria Rodgers HR Manager of Double Negative.

 

“The show reel should be more about the idea. We like candidates that can show the passion”, adds Terri Wong (producer) & Kwai Bun (Founder & president) of Many Many Creations.
“Candidates should be able to demonstrate they have good communication skills, because people have to work with other departments”, explains Caitlin Procter, Digital Artist Manager at Animal Logic.
In fact some companies suggested that a collaboration with other people to produce a showreel would be more interesting than a person doing everything themselves.

 

Industry professionals apparently know within thirty seconds of looking at a reel if they are suitable for their company. So the general consensus is to keep it no more than two minutes sharp.
Double Negative focus mainly “on photo realism only, no caricatures”, so their advice is only to send works that depict this. Crimson and Croxx-A amongst most others, agree that “it is those that go that extra mile, and tailor make their reel that usually get a better chance of getting the part”.

 

After the interview process is over and once in the job, at a starting level position, most companies said “the person will be provided with small projects to work on”, explains Matthew Chow from SImage. “We have our own training program for starting level people”, explained Zach from Bitmap 3D. Pixomondo, go further as they “have a welcome package, and a mentor program”.

 

Starting salary according to Contact Singapore, “is around two thousand Singapore Dollars a month up to two thousand and five hundred Singapore dollars”, explained Khoo Kar Kiat, Assistant Director.
For those that want to move to China, it is from five to eight thousand Chinese Yuan. Compared to Hong Kong, which has a minimum wage policy, the starting pay is usually from eight to ten thousand Hong Kong dollars a month.

 

Junior Positions will last between two to three years, and more senior positions with the pay going up two to three fold, will eventually start after the third or fourth year in the industry. None of the companies I spoke with hire freelancers, and only hire new recruits once a year generally.

 

The final piece of advice came from Academy Award Winner for Technical Achievement Ken Perlin (PHD) who said that, “those in the field should not worry so much about which technologies are available. Rather create a world where they invent their own technology, like J.K Rowling did in Harry Potter. The key word he emphasized the most was to focus on 'Interactivity'.
Therefore, getting into this industry is for sure a tough thing to do, but as long as people show ideas, passion, keep their reel targeted, interactive and under two minutes long, they’ll have a better chance to get a foot in the door.

 

Related links:

SIGGRAPH Asia 2012

DreamWorks
LucasArts
Pixar
Double Negative
Pixomondo
Crimson Forest
Bitmap Technologies
Morpheus
The Foundry
Many Many Creations
Menfond
Contact Singapore
The White Rabbit Animation
Animal Logic

Going Full Circle with Transformers

Tue 13th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

 

The most crowded sessions at any SIGGRAPH conference, (Asia or North American) are undoubtedly the Computer Animation Festival's Production Sessions.  The Transformers franchise as recreated by the Lucasfilm crowd guaranteed VFX Supervisor Brendan Doyle from Lucasfilm Singapore this afternoon took the crowd through the latest Transformers film's 'building slide' sequence.

 

While footage from the previous films were shown and compared, the last film was enough to easily fill the allocated hour and more. Going through the 221 interocular effects generated, his co-VFX Supervisor Abishak Nair said they had a great base plate in some of the sequences, and this gave them a real life background base to then model in. 

 

Lucasfilm adopted Houdini for the formulations of the collapsing building creations. Of course, this was a stereo show and Doug Sutton got mental ray to work. MR was indeed modified for use in the generating of the dust, smoke, flames and lighting effects. There were so many intricate levels and layers.

 

The 'damage textures' were placed, so the Lucasfilm crew could make sure they were giving it the right amount of light, depending on the angle of each shot. Compositing was a heavy job. In another sequence showed a fair amount of the city of Chicago and the river.  A lot of clean up and detail was called for before they could begin on the active elements, in this case a number of airborne robots being blasted out of the sky, side-swiping buildings on the way down. A great variation of smoke and fire was possible as they were taken from Lucasfilm's massive library of practical effects.

 

Making It Real

Tue 13th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Justin Boitano from NVIDIA outlined further details of the MAXIMUS technology at the annual Jon Peddie lunch this afternoon.


NVIDIA have been putting the technology in the hands of the some of the key creatives in the industry, "and this is one of my favourite success stories because they have all come back and said they can do throw everything at the system and gain ground, without making the compromises they were used to making in the past."  NVIDIA has some insanely impressive demos of their MAXIMUS technology at Room S228.


With speed and size limitations being lifted the way they are, it appears pretty certain to these specialists on stage here at Peddie's discussion, that real-time ray tracing output to mobile with be possible within two years. Justin Boitano from NVIDIA; David Forrester, LightWorks; Ping Fu from Geomagic; and Rob Hoffman, from Autodesk, agree that it is both fascinating, and opens up a whole new world of aplications for business and creativity. This is definitely a 'watch this space'.


The debate and open discussion at Peddie's talk was 'Making it Real', with the consensus that the use of CG, and 3D VFX in all of its guises would have to go thru a time of over doing itself. "CG is a tool for telling a story and ultimately it's up to the director to use judgement about when you introduce CG and when you don't.  For instance, LOOK Effects was recently doing work on the Muppets movie, and the puppets work, as puppets," Boitano said.  In this case, it was a right decision to hold back on the 'in-your-face' CG work and keep it to the story they're trying to tell. A technology has truly arrived, only when it has melded into the workflow and loses its novelty value.

 

SIGGRAPH Asia - Day Two

Wed 14th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Kavita Bala and a crew of attentive Student Volunteers corralled the long line of researchers into a semi-orderly line down the side of Theater 1 last evening at the Technical Papers Fast Forward. They were in readiness for their 50 second brush with stage fright.  Some tremendously entertaining summations were enough for me to be reaching for the  pen nearly every time one rushed to their spot to present. Wednesday in Conference Hall B and C, at 9am is to be taken over with Material Matting and a thoroughly entertaining 3D Capture and reconstruction session.

 

There were two Pixar RenderMan sessions today and again tomorrow, delivered by Dylan Sisson.  The Pixar RenderMan User Group Meeting is tomorrow at 6:30pm.  Go to Level 1, in the Convention Hall A.  Now, Sisson is the guy who invented the teapot.  Yes, that's the teapot everybody lines up for each year at the Pixar booth in the North American SIGGRAPH.  His story on stage in this darkened theatre sketched through the years as Pixar researched the beginnings of what was to become RenderMan.  In 1983, a view of the road along the Pacific coast was released which was, as Dylan puts it, the AVATAR of the time. This was a still image entitled, 'The road to Point Reyes'. This showed a semi-imaginary view of an oceanside mountain road, much like the beach road along the coast near Marin County. The key: REYES = Render Everything You Ever Saw'

 

As part of the history of RenderMan, some quick 'Star Trek Two Wrath of Khan' effects were shown, also a milestone of the day, showing a sequence of a planet being blown up. "The scene was rendered out at 320x240 because that was the highest rez possible back then," says Dylan Sisson, "and I saw this on the big screen in a movie theatre and was totally blown away by it, as a kid."  RenderMan has been evolving since 1998, with R&D for five years prior.  It really is a cool story because the connection of all the best technology to the company structure which involved Steve Jobs, Pixar and the 'whole start-up thing'. "Where the whole galaxy of artists, scientists and that special genre of movies come from," Sisson explains.

Liu Zhi-Qiang - Conference Chair

Thu 15th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

 

When the Conference Chair of SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Liu Zhi-Quang [far right] submitted a paper to SIGGRAPH in his younger years, he was rejected.

Despite the fact his work did not make the cut, this made Zhi-Qiang quite happy. "In their round of reviews, the ACM committee gave very detailed, constructive criticism," said Quang. "If they would reject me, this means they must be very strict about the content of the conference. I decided to pursue the organisational side of the conference in later years." He was finally awarded the conference Chair position in May and was very pleased to have some great people, a strong team around him in the committee. Eric Liu for instance is the CAF Chair, and he has a very strong link to the local film and VFX industry. Kavita Bala is the Papers Chair and totally brilliant.

The Chinese participation in the last five years of SIGGRAPH Asia is around 400% increase. The Chinese Government spends millions of dollars in this sector every year. Research and development in engineering, visualisation and the motion picture industry development. SIGGRAPH Asia is sitting at the doorstep of China. Consequently, there is a great deal of interest and enthusiasm about the show from the industry, the academic and government sectors. SIGGRAPH is the big leveller, in fact Art is.

One new section in particular is the Symposium on Apps. As the Mobile device is used more and more, even more apps are also using Augmented Reality.

Zhi-Qiang really likes technical sessions as they are a key component of the conference. Another important part is the Computer Animation Festival. "SIGGRAPH Asia is known to have spurred a huge move to get outside the box for North American VFX artists," says Zhi-Qiang. "We also need to open up submissions and have more and more prestigious inclusions of Chinese artists and technologists. SIGGRAPH Asia gives the local scientific community a voice within this graphics world of media and entertainment." Qiang also feels that to have an active SIGGRAPH means politics, customs, and cultural differences can be left behind, and this is all very healthy.
 

SIGGRAPH Hong Kong - Day One

Sun 11th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Landing in Hong Kong to a rush-hour that never ends. SIGGRAPH Asia 2011.

 

Landing in Hong Kong is always an experience. When I was here last, (30 years ago with an older model backpack and more hair), we passed several high-rise apartments on our approach. I even tried waving to the people eating dinner on their balcony. Not this time. Now the airport is sitting on a bed of reclaimed land some miles away from the city. China is always hard at work. The harbour, the city and endless construction and engineering feats are still completely immense.

 

Hong Kong Island and the Wan Chai district is in non-stop rush mode, leaving even New York City in it's dust. Hong Kong has a tough brashness I wasn't expecting, and I love it. It is within the confusing bowels of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center where we find the first day of the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, quickly and quietly, under way.

 

Ann McNamara discussed the phenomenon of unintentional blindness, the deep 'psycho-physics' and the Human Visual System.  "One of the first people to try to incorporate elements of the visual system and use perceptual motivation in rendering was Mitchell in 1987," says McNamara. "His goal was to generate anti-aliased images, pushing as few rays as possible into the scene. He succeeded by extracting contrast, high frequencies and visual sensitivities." Her conclusion was that human vision and psycho-physics play an important role in CG and visualization.  "Understanding how we see properties in a scene and how we remember them can be advantageous.   This can also be used to help understand how we can render images in perceptually salient and optimal ways," she says.  This helps to guide a viewer's focus of attention within a scene as well as opening up new ways to engage viewers, increasing their memory of the image's contents.

 

Using the theory of understanding the Gaze Direction of the audience is to take advantage of the invisibility of many areas. Even the most vibrant of images allow (in some instances) the high rendering of some parts of a frame because research shows fewer people will be watching that part of the frame.  The savings in rendering power can be seen as almost 90% because less than 1% will be 'seeing' that part of the screen.


 

The SIGGRAPH Asia Student Volunteer Chair, Ahmad Al-Maher bin Abu Bakar is excited about the range of volunteers and more experienced workers who put their hand up as 'Student Volunteers' each year, and 2011 in Asia is no exception. "We have a pretty good mix of first timers and more experienced people here, so there is a balance for those coming up to be guided, and the people with experience to get the jobs done correctly," says Ahmad.

 

"We have a lot of great people from China and the US," says his off-sider, Jeremy Kenisky. "There's also a good mix of people with different interests and disciplines." Jeremy is a Technical Director in Texas and also an Intern Leader here at the Hong Kong SIGGRAPH show.

 

"The shifts are split evenly so there is always time to go into the sessions you would like to go," says Jay Kuruvilla.  Jay says he first volunteered at Japan's Yokohama SIGGRAPH Asia, and was doing Animation and Photography at Texas Art Institute in Dallas. "Opportunities to be involved in this conference's smooth running is beneficial to not just my career but to the participants personally."

 

Related Links:

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 in Hong Kong

User Group Meetings

Wed 7th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Many software companies will be showing their brands, upholding the tradition some have kept to, with SIGGRAPH User Group Meetings. As well as presenting full demonstrations, each company aims to divulge some details of research, some entertaining case studies and hints of future release.

 

The Foundry is staging their full day GeekFest. This will consist of three, FREE sessions on the Tuesday 13th December starting at 10:30am and going thru to 5pm. Situated in Room S228, Level 2 of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

 

Pixar will be presenting their RenderMan User Group Meeting on Wednesday 14th December at 6:30pm. Go to Level 1 of the Convention Hall A. More information will be available soon.

 

Side Effects Software will be hosting a Houdini User Group meeting also at 7pm on Wednesday 14th December, which will include a panel-based discussion as well as some updates on what's to come with Houdini. Their UGM is in the Convention Hall C. On the trade show floor at booth #A02 Side Effects will have a mini-theatre style booth where they will be presenting a wide variety of presentations focusing on Houdini's core features, benefits as well as talking about the upcoming release of Houdini 12. DreamWorks' Brett Miller will be presenting Houdini's role in their pipeline as well as in their latest release Puss in Boots. Crystal Education have recently included Houdini in their curriculum as it continues to gain momentum in Asian visual effects and animation studios.

 

Throughout the exhibition, Chaos Group will be presenting a series of demonstrations at our booth #B02; and on December 14 from 4 pm-7 pm in Room S224, they will host the Annual V-Ray Siggraph Event, giving participants an opportunity to see the new features of V-Ray 2.0 and get a sneak preview of V-Ray for Softimage with an expected release in Q1 2012.

 

Related links

The Foundry GeekFest

Chaos Group event

Pixar RenderMan event

Side Effects Software

CAF Chair

Sun 4th Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

CAF Chair SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 CAF Chair Eric Liu and his team have had a few weeks spent in a darkened screening room. He gave a summary of his selection process to CGSociety.


“It has been very satisfying to see the level of talent in the animation and VFX industry. Working with the jury to curate and select the best was very challenging.” The CAF Chair says the final selection from the 558 entries from 21 countries was based on the significance of each work in the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques and how it will help to advance the industry both in Asia and globally.


After the selection, the Computer Animation Festival team produced a trailer as well as the full production of Electronic Theater and Animation Theater. “The support from the CAF team has been amazing, and this could not have been done without them,” Liu continues.  For SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, the committee has endeavored to showcase works that have not been screened elsewhere. There will also be more emphasis on original short films that have been produced specifically for the Festival.


While SIGGRAPH Asia continues to be an important platform to showcase Asian works to the world, it is also an opportunity for Asian professionals to be inspired by the best works that the world has to offer. “For professionals in Hong Kong especially, it is my hope that the array of works and technology showcased in SIGGRAPH Asia can further motivate creativity in this industry,” said Liu.


SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 celebrates the future and present talents of this industry, and with this, the Computer Animation Festival will be honoring the top three works through a Best of Show award, the Jury award, and for the first time ever, the Best Student Project award.


The Best Student Project award was awarded to Andreas Thomsen and Michelle Nardone of The Animation Workshop, Denmark. Last Fall was created as part of a student project, and yet the graphics and animation was of a very high standard. The fact that this short film was produced with limited budget and resources had impressed the jury further. Participants will be excited to know that Last Fall will be screening across all three days of the exhibition.


The Computer Animation Chair Eric Liu has been very active in promoting the professional development of Multimedia and Digital Entertainment industry in Hong Kong for many years. “As the Chair of Hong Kong ACM SIGGRAPH Professional Chapter for the past three years and the second Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Industry Person of the Year in 2009, I have had the chance to meet and work with pioneers in this field. I have also been dedicated to the development of the animation and computer graphics industry in Asia, and am deeply committed to the nurturing of student artists, and next generation’s industry leaders," he said.


The Computer Animation Festival at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 conference will feature three parts. Animation Theater, Electronic Theater, and Panels & Talks. Now, as part of the Panels and Talks, a 3D Symposium will take an in-depth look into stereography and stereoscopic techniques in film and game making.


A few highlights include:

Making of 3D Stereoscopic Animation - Legend of a Rabbit 3D
An inside look into China’s first 3D stereoscopic animated feature, Legend of a Rabbit 3D, winner of 2 top film awards in China in 2011, and the Chinese animation most widely sold ever internationally. The team will also present the latest clip from Rabbit 2, the sequel.

Asian 3D Stereo Motion Pictures Overview
This session will feature an overview of current 3D stereo production in Asia, including movies, large venue short films, and television commercials.

Globalization of 3D Stereoscopic Techniques in Film and Game Making
A panel discussion featuring key industry experts:
Brennan Doyle, ILM Singapore
Sandra Ford Karpman, Pixar
Elliot Tong, Tianjin North Film Group
Andy Dolf, Beijing Century Colorful Butterfly Design Animation Ltd.


SIGGRAPH Asia’s Panels & Talks have always attracted globally recognized animation pioneers and artists, and this year’s edition will not be any different. The studio behind the VFX for movies such as Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Industrial Light & Magic, will be participating. Lucasfilm Animation will also be presenting a talk on the creation of rigs for character animation in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.


The Electronic Theater is set to showcase the best of animation and visual effects produced over the past year, and this includes stellar work from Hollywood blockbusters such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Inception. All of the animation shorts screened at the Computer Animation Festival have been handpicked by international jury members, and are each unique and ground-breaking in their own way. "I am especially excited for the Panels & Talks sessions in which Industrial Light & Magic will be presenting a behind-the-scenes look into the production of creatures and environments through stereo 3D in movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers," says Liu.



"The Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH Asia will also, for the first time, be showcasing student works submitted from all around the world. This is a testament to the wealth of budding artists who are that talented to produce work which is showcased among those produced by animation professionals," he added.

Jeff Jortner

Thu 1st Dec 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Earlier this year, the ACM SIGGRAPH elected a new President. Jeff Jortner brings to the role his life long love of Computer Graphics and a serious interest in the application of CG in engineering and scientific visualization.

 

Jeff Jortner started off in Computer Graphics doing curves and surfaces at Louisiana State University and he started working in the faculty because that just happened to be where the CG programs were situated. He’s been, in his own words, more of an “‘applied’ kind of a worker, as opposed to a researcher, wanting to bring my own finding into the engineering environment.” He worked on a curve algorithm for a while when he was there and heard about the SIGGRAPH conference from a friend. He’s has only missed one conference since he went to the Dallas 1981 show.

The expansion of the ACM SIGGRAPH shows into Asia is increasing in popularity since the first Singapore show in 2008.  “It was a really new idea to move into Asia for the ACM,” says Jortner. “Instead of moving city to city, we were moving country to country, so it was a little different for us. But it has allowed us to pull in the different culture ideas. It makes it easier to draw people in from this area.”

 

The Computer Graphics industry is growing at a great rate here in Asia and there has been a call from Asian universities and industry to be able to share their experience, culture and ingenuity.  “South Korea had online games, Japan had robotics and now this year in Hong Kong and China, we look forward to experiencing their history, their culture and arts. And we’re happy to see those elements propogate back into the US SIGGRAPH, and visa versa,” says Jortner. “We really like that interplay.”

 

Jortner says the industry is clearly pleased to have a dual opportunity to show their technical papers in the SIGGRAPH community.  Not just an annual scrum seen in the USA, but now also with SIGGRAPH Asia there is new blood in the Emerging Technologies, Art Gallery and the Technical Papers. “‘The Symposium on Apps’ is also a first this year and gives just a glimpse of the Augmented Reality applications, so much more at the forefront in Asia,” continues Jortner.  “SIGGRAPH is indeed about Graphics but it is also about the Interactive Techniques. Bill Buxton’s speech on Wednesday 14th December, will be hitting this topic head-on. How the future person will interact with 3D graphics will be a big portion of the future technology, and we may well see this taking place in Asia before we see it in North America.”


Please note:   Registration closes for SIGGRAPH Asia on on 4 December, 23:59 Hong Kong time.   


Related links:

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011

Symposium on Apps

Thu 24th Nov 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 launches inaugural 'Symposium on Apps' with Panels, Presentations, and Workshops.

 

 

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 will be showcasing the inaugural 'Symposium on Apps' in Hong Kong. This is to be a vehicle for the many uses and applications in that rapidly expanding sector.  Morgan Aasdam is the Chair of the Symposium on Apps and he spoke to me from Hong Kong this afternoon.

 

"This is the first time SIGGRAPH Asia will have a 'Symposium on Apps'. We're pretty excited and hopeful that it is so well received that it is the first iteration of many on the Apps phenomenon and on the Augmented Reality (AR)," he said. "While other programs at SIGGRAPH like Emerging Technologies have featured AR and Apps development, this is the first time a complete selection of papers, panels, exhibits and workshops has been presented."

 

 

More and more Apps for iPhone and Android are making head roads into education, medical and scientific fields, as tools for training and research. Not so much for the geek-gimmick value but for true research. Morgan Aasdam says the various apps are also being increasingly used as a programming platform to create even further Apps for the next generation into the future.

 

"We are offering four sessions, some panels, presentations and workshops. Most will be exploratory sessions, showing how the user can explore Augmented Reality using today's smart-phone," says Aasdam. "There is to be just a sampling of the many AR avenues in Hong Kong. Just enough to whet the appetite for a repeat performance."

 

 

The MAWL: Mobile Assisted Word-Learning, and Mobile Augmented Reality Demonstrators are two devices to be exhibited at the Symposium, showing how iOS is being used to create apps to visually assist with the learning of asian languages. The device is used as a 'looking glass' in order to translate documents from one language to another.  Representatives from Layar will show their Vision and Player products in action, another Augmented Reality (AP) presentation.

 

Related links:

Symposium on Apps at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011

Bakery Relight

Tue 22nd Nov 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

A Tech Talk at SIGGRAPH Asia in Hong Kong will focus on the next steps for pro lighting solution, Bakery Relight in its second year, plus up-dates on the forthcoming releases of Relight for mental ray and RenderMan.



French company The Bakery will be hosting an in-depth Tech Talk on Bakery Relight on the first day of this year’s SIGGRAPH Asia. The talk will focus on the next steps for The Bakery's interactive 3D lighting and look development software, Bakery Relight. Demonstrations of Relight will also take place throughout the show on booth C22. 


“We’re currently exploring new areas in the field of rendering production pipeline processes, to open the Relight interface to other technologies and generalize the Bakery workflow to address general pipeline production aspects, such as asset management/process management,“ says Bakery co-founder and CEO, Erwan Maigret. “At SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, we will be showing how users of mental ray and RenderMan will soon be able to benefit from Relight’s unique workflow model, and how the toolset will evolve in 2012 and beyond.”


Bakery Relight users from across the Asia region have also added their endorsements as the show approaches:
“Our team has become so used to Bakery Relight now, that we can’t imagine working on future projects without it!,” says Wong Chi Kong, COO at Singapore/Scrawl Suzhou Co. Ltd, China. “In the past, it would have taken us two to three times longer to light our scenes to the amazing standard, which Relight can achieve – not to mention the additional time for rendering and compositing! Bakery Relight gives us far greater control in terms of consistency and quality, and is extremely quick and easy to make amendments. We can train almost anyone to use the software, without a long familiarization period. This is great when we need to re-deploy people quickly to help out with lighting and rendering work in crunch deadline situations.”





Jin Liu, General Manager, T-ANI Digital Image Co., Ltd, China (www.t-ani.com) said, “Bakery Relight is a really great piece of software - amazingly efficient, very controllable. It provides a smart rendering solution that is extremely useful for complicated projects. With Relight, you almost feel that you have the constant support of an invisible lighting technical director! We’re able to obtain the rendered results of lighting modifications within seconds, which gives our artists more time for creativity, and less time waiting for rendering. Based on the data cache of particle clouds, Relight makes full use of our hardware and dramatically increases our productivity. For us, the best part is that because of Relight, we have less expenditure on hardware. This is a key factor for many companies here in China.” 


Bakery Relight is available for Linux and Windows and is fully compatible with leading animation and VFX software packages, such as Maya, Softimage and 3ds Max.

 

Related links:

Bakery Relight
SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Tech Talks

Emerging Technologies

Sun 13th Nov 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

 

Chair of Emerging Technologies at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 previews some of the stand out exhibits.

 

Being Chair of Emerging Technologies at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 has been a lot of fun for Mark Billinghurst, harking from Canterbury in New Zealand. The range of exhibits are mind-boggling but, "I'm happy to do it to help bring some great interactive technologies to SIGGRAPH Asia 2011."

 

"Hong Kong is a fantastic location for SIGGRAPH Asia 2011," Billinghurst continues, "because it has a thriving game and graphics industry and it will bring a strong Chinese influence to the conference. Having SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 in Hong Kong will also increase the exposure of graphics to local people in industry and academia.

 

"There are some great technologies that could be game changes in the future. For example there is a 360 degree fog display that creates the illusion of a 3D model floating in space, just like what is shown in many science fiction movies. The Influencia piece allows people to interact with a swarm of robots, just like might be in the home in the future. Finally, the Polychrome Paper Computing explore how paper pictures can be made responsive to touch, changing colour when stroked.

 

"The EaTheremin is really amazing. This is a fork which enables users to play various sounds by eating foods. Then there is the FoodGenie which allows you to print onto food. These submissions are great because they take familiar things and make them do the unexpected.

A lot of the exhibits in the Emerging Technologies stable of submissions are just entertaining new ways of showing art. The theme for this year was PLAY, so most of the pieces are distinctly entertaining," Billinghurst says.

 

Related links:

Emerging Technologies

SIGGRAPH ASIA 2011 Registration

SIGGRAPH Asia Courses

Thu 10th Nov 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Courses Chair Pedro Sander talks about the range available in Hong Kong conference.

 

 

Pedro Sander is an Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  Before coming to Hong Kong, he was a Senior Engineer at AMD (2003-2006) and a PhD student at Harvard. Now, as well as being Chair of the Courses at SIGGRAPH Aisa 2011, Pedro teaches and researches on topics related to rendering and GPU computation.


In designing the program, Pedro Sander and his small crew tried to balance the wide range of topics within CG as well as the level of difficulty. There are also a number of courses with high profile speakers. "Of course, I'd like to draw attention to a brand new course about how to write a SIGGRAPH paper," says Sander. "The course, given by some of the most successful researchers and professors in the field, will provide tips on all aspects of doing research in computer graphics. There is also another curated course by Prof. Don Greenberg that will outline the history of computer graphics and what to expect in the future. I think that course will be very interesting for attendees of all areas and experience levels."

 

 

There are also several interesting courses targeted at specific technologies that are 'hot' around the world at the moment. The photography course showing how to program a camera using open API (FCam); a course on using the GPU as a parallel processor for computations that are completely unrelated to graphics (OpenCL); and multiple courses on how to program 3D graphics applications (OpenGL and GPU Shaders).

 

Hong Kong has an active industry in computer graphics, with a number of companies doing special effects for film as well as 3D games. A major recent focus has been on development for mobile platforms. Phone games are highly popular in Hong Kong and many of our graduates have moved on to work on phone games and apps.
 

Sander feels Hong Kong's conference will continue the tradition of breaking new ground. "One of the great points about SIGGRAPH is that you find attendees from all different backgrounds and interests, from the sciences to business and the arts," says Sander. "Also, unlike most technical conferences, everyone enjoys SIGGRAPH, even those who are not in Computer Graphics. The visual nature of our field makes it very appealing to the public."



Related links:

SIGGRAPH Registration

Courses rundown

2012 Announcement

Wed 9th Nov 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

ACM SIGGRAPH has announced the return of the SIGGRAPH Asia series to its birthplace – Singapore.


The 5th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia will be held from 28 November to 1 December 2012 at Suntec Singapore.


SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 will be chaired by Professor Susanto Rahardja from the Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore. An IEEE Fellow, Professor Rahardja is the Deputy Executive Director (Research) of the Institute for Infocomm Research. He was past Chair of several international conferences and has served on various boards, advisory, and technical committees in ACM, IEEE, and SPIE-related professional activities in the areas of interactive digital media.


SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 will continue its tradition of serving as the premier platform for the advancement of graphics, animation, art, and technology. The event is expected to draw conference attendees, exhibition visitors, and exhibitors from more than 50 countries worldwide.


The Call for Submissions for the conference programs will be launched in March 2012. Exhibition and sponsorship bookings will begin in December 2011. Contact us early to find out more or visit our booth at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 from 12 to 15 December in Hong Kong.


 

Related Links:

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 - Hong Kong

Side Effects @ SIGG Asia 2011

Tue 8th Nov 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Side Effects Software has announced their plans to participate at this year's SIGGRAPH Asia in Hong Kong.

In addition to the extensive show floor presence, Side Effects is holding a user group meeting on the evening of December 14th.

 

Side Effects Software will have a theatre-style booth at #A02 for the three days of the conference 13-15 December, where you can get a sneak peek at Houdini 12 and learn from many special guest industry professionals using Houdini in productions every day.

 

Joining the Houdini using crew at the booth is Crystal Education who have built a reputation as leaders in the Asia-Pacific region for training today’s up-and-coming talent. They are launching new Houdini-based courses and will be sharing their views on how you can become a highly-skilled, production-ready Houdini artist. "We'll also be joined by DreamWorks' Brett Miller who will be presenting a few interesting stories and demonstrations about Houdini's role in their pipeline as well as in their latest release Puss in Boots," says Bill Self from Side Effects Software.

 

Side Effects Software will be hosting a Houdini User Group Meeting in Hall C at the Hong Kong Convention Centre on December 14 at 7pm.


During the event, speakers from Side Effects Software will be joined by industry professionals as they engage in a panel format discussion. You will also have the opportunity to network with your peers during the second half of the event. Then Houdini expert Jeff "Old School" Wagner will introduce you to many useful Houdini tips and tricks.

 

SIGGRAPH Asia has released a new video covering more of the exhibits and Emerging Technologies to be shown at the Hong Kong show.  More information and interviews with the many representatives will follow.



 

Related links:

Side Effects Software UG Meet


SIGGRAPH Asia 2011

SIGGRAPH ASIA 2011 CAF

Fri 28th Oct 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

The Computer Animation Festival (CAF) preview video is now released onto the web.

CGSociety is very pleased to feature the three and a half minute taster of the amazing program to be shown at the Hong Kong SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 in December.  This gives me the opportunity also to let readers know that the Early Bird offering for conference passes is expiring on Sunday.

The program is delivered with a nod to a wide range of projects completed in the last year.  Eric Liu is the Chair for the Computer Animation Festival and has been busy with his small crew producing the many elements that go into this year's content.  Over 640 entries this year came in from over 34 countries filled their inboxes.  


 



An internationally recognized jury received hundreds of submissions and will present the best work of the year in daily Animation Theaters and the two hour Electronic Theater.  There will also be presentations by animators, visual effects producers, researchers, and industry experts on the state of the art in digital media.

Related links:

SIGGRAPH Registration

Computer Animation Festival

Technical Papers

Sun 23rd Oct 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Kavita Bala is the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Technical Papers Chair. In her other life, Bala is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department and Program of Computer Graphics at Cornell University. CGSociety caught up with the Tech Papers Chair to get an idea of the standards being prepared.


"The SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Technical Papers program received a total of 330 submissions, the highest-ever number of submissions in SIGGRAPH Asia's history," says Bala. "Of these, a total of 68 papers were accepted. This is an acceptance rate of 20.5% percent, which is similar to SIGGRAPH's average acceptance rate. These papers were chosen by the Papers Committee based on the importance of the problem being solved, the impact and potential of each paper, and the technical strength and rigor of the paper.  The record number of submissions this year demonstrates the recognition of the Technical Papers program at SIGGRAPH Asia and SIGGRAPH as a premier venue to demonstrate scientific excellence, innovation and novelty in graphics and interactive techniques. The Papers Committee has selected an exciting program of papers that will contribute significantly to advancing the field."



The papers cover a broad range of topics and areas. There are some new trends, principally stereoscopic displays and pipelines, new time-of-flight acquisition devices; use of internet imagery for content creation; and new visualisation tools.

 

There are a couple of papers from WETA and KAIST of tools for artists. There are a few papers from Disney research on building tools for the production pipelines. And the sessions on NPR, material editing, mesh editing, and architectural modeling are exceptional. Each and every paper is aimed at bringing better tools to artists and designers.




Related Links

SIGGRAPH Asia Technical Papers


DreamWorks @ SIGGRAPH Asia 2011

Fri 21st Oct 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

Kung Fu Panda 2 Director and Prod. Designer speaking at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011.

 

DreamWorks Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Production Designer Raymond Zibach.

As an added bonus to the Featured Speakers at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, the director and production designer of 'Kung Fu Panda 2' will talk about their trip to China to gather important research materials to help guide them in creating an accurate and beautiful depiction of the Chinese culture. They will talk about the regions and landmarks they observed on their trip and demonstrate how they influenced portions of the film.


Jennifer Yuh Nelson directed the 'Kung Fu Panda 2' from DreamWorks Animation. Nelson previously directed, was a story artist and character design for HBO's animated series 'Spawn', winning an Emmy Award in 1999, and has a history with HBO in Korea and Japan.


Raymond Zibach was production designer in 'Kung Fu Panda' and 'Kung Fu Panda 2'. With a long history as a background artist behind him in work on 'Rover Dangerfield', 'Aladdin and the King of Thieves' and 'Space Jam'. His work on other production like 'Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.'


The DreamWorks Animation team will be at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 in Hong Kong and will deliver their presentations at 11am on Tuesday December 13th.

Related links:

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011

SIGGRAPH ASIA 2011

Tue 4th Oct 2011, by Paul Hellard | siggraphasia2011


 

For the fourth year running, CGSociety opens the SIGGRAPH Asia Diary in readiness for the December show.

 

We'll be bringing you details of sessions, exclusive interview content, images and videos from the Festivals. Once on the ground, I'll be selecting sessions and talking to Featured Speakers. Follow along with us as we track the approach of the exotic SIGGRAPH in Hong Kong.

 

More content from the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 program has been revealed, and Rochelle Yang, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is the Chair of the SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Art Gallery.

 

A sneak preview of some of the many exhibits in the Art Gallery show terrific inventiveness in the minds of the artists, some from outside fields. Yuh Egami, of the Hong Kong Ballet asks, "Physical movement represents reality, interactive media represents virtuality. Could these concepts be inverted?" with a study of mirror image faces in a digital realm, 'Mirage'.

 

MOSTON is an impressive 12-foot tall inflatable sculpture that embodies the cyberfusion of two geographically distant locales: Moscow and Boston. Suspended in the air, MOSTON's three-dimensional form references ethnically specific artifacts, the visual appeal and conceptual ingenuity of 'matryoshkas' reach audiences beyond Russia and Russian diasporas. Creator Anya Belkina from Emerson College shows a universally understood symbol of sequential creation. She says "these toys offer a fitting framework for evoking the concentric evolution of Moscow's and Boston's city armatures."

 

While we're having a look around, check out 'Alternity - The Projected Perception of Spatial Harmonics'. The creator, Francesco Sciotto calls this an experiential translation of the mind, body and the ways which our subconscious is able to inform our surroundings. The goal is the full development of architectures, created via bio-data, pattern processing, and synthesized within novel spatial interfaces.  Sciotto a PhD student in the Department of Media Arts and Technology at University of California, Santa Barbara, studying with Marcos Novak. He currently teaches interactive architectural studies at SCI-Arc and is an active guest critic on graduate thesis reviews at Art Centers' Media Design Program, as well as SCI-Arc's MediaScapes Postgraduate Program.

 

At SIGGRAPH Asia, the many programs are platforms for presenting the most innovative research and applications in graphics and interactive techniques, technologically-mediated artwork, new technologies, CG animation, and VFX. A sneak preview of the accepted submissions from the Computer Animation Festival, Emerging Technologies, Technical Papers as well as the Art Gallery, is now available online at the SIGGRAPH Asia site.

 

The SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Hong Kong conference is scheduled to open on the 12th of December and run thru until the 15th December 2011 so if you plan to get over to come to Hong Kong, stop contemplating and register now.  Register before the end of October to take advantage of a 10% discount.

 

The conference will show exceptional digital and technologically mediated artwork that includes international projects, multimedia installations, three-dimensional pieces, and kinetic, mobile, or interactive media.

 

So don't forget to register.


 

Related links:
Art Gallery
SIGGRAPH Asia 2011


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