SIGGRAPH ’07 Recap

August 24th, 2007 by Fweeb

SIGGRAPH 2007Alright, so it’s been a couple of weeks since I got back from this year’s SIGGRAPH conference and I’ve thusfar posted nothing about it. Well, get your readin’ glasses ready; here’s a massive recap of all the coolness that was had. Before starting, though, I have to say that San Diego is an awesome town. If I were ever to become homeless, that’s the place I’d like to be. The weather there seems to be perpetually awesome.

Blender Stuff

blender_logo.pngThe main reason I was at SIGGRAPH (aside from seeing cool stuff, learning new things, and meeting more people interested in computer graphics) was primarily Blender-related. I was presenting a 15-minute QuickTake on Red Hat High for the Educators Program. After showing the excellent student work from the 3D animation track and talking about where the program is headed, I got some very good feedback from teachers interested in finding out more. It was great to see legitimate interest from the educational community in growing this program.

But that wasn’t the only Blender thing going on. At the Blender Artist Showcase BoF, I showed off some of Hand Turkey’s work (via a sadly slow network connection) as well as the Blender SIGGRAPH Demo Reel. Also on hand to show work were Bassam Kurdali, Lee Salvemini, Roland Hess, and Erwin Coumins. Erwin’s presentation was particularly interesting as he talked about improving Blender’s rigid body physics engine with better ragdoll support and tighter integration with the other physical simulation systems in Blender.

At the earlier Blender Foundation BoF, Ton Roosendaal talked about Blender’s development and future, including things like the upcoming event system refactor, the Peach and Apricot projects, and the Blender Institute. We also had a Blender pod set up in the Khronos booth on the exhibition floor. At any point during the day, you could see a variety of Blender folks giving demos. I had to make it a point to shake Nils Thuerey’s hand, because without his work programming Blender’s fluid simulator, I couldn’t have made the tutorial DVD on it. He was at SIGGRAPH sharing his continuing research on fluid simulation, some of which was on display in the Animation Festival.

Emerging Technologies

The really cool thing that I always enjoy about SIGGRAPH, though, is the Emerging Technologies section, and it would be remiss of me not to talk about all the sweet new tech I saw. A couple highlights include Grimage (a device that instantaneously models and textures any object placed in its interaction space in real-time), Gravity Grabber (a haptic device that allows users to feel virtual weight in their hands), and the very cool Transparent Cockpit (a novel way of eliminating blind spots in cars).

sig.jpgHowever, the most interesting (and frightening) exhibit in Emerging Technologies had to be the Saccade-Based Display. This thing works like those novelty clocks that swing a wand of LEDs to show the time floating in mid-air, except in this case your head moves instead of the wand and the display is in full color and six feet tall. The image only shows while your head turns. It legitimately had me questioning my sanity for nearly ten minutes before I discovered what was going on.

Electronic Theater

Each year, I come away from SIGGRAPH with something I can only describe as “inspired depression,” and this is due in large part to the work shown in the Electronic Theater. This year was no exception. The show was a bit heavy on special effects demos and commercial work. However, there were some great standouts in the animated shorts including Pixar’s Lifted, Blur’s A Gentleman’s Duel, Blue Sky’s No Time for Nuts, Platige‘s Ark, and The Mill‘s Raymond. Truly inspiring stuff.

Next Year

So what’s in store for SIGGRAPH 2008? I predict big things for Blender. For one, the Peach project animation should be released by then. And Blender will most certainly have a bevy of new developments to show off. Perhaps some other cool things could happen, too: another Open Source Pavilion? a Blender course? a Hand Turkey presence in FJORG!? an animated short by Hand Turkey Studios? Only time will tell. One thing is certain, though: I’m going to be there to soak it in… and you should be, too.

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