SIGGRAPH 2006 Exhibition
When I first saw the exhibition floor of the SIGGRAPH 2006 Conference, through a window from above, I was somewhat disappointed. For some reason it seemed to me to be smaller than in some past years. Later, at the keynote address I was surprised to hear that this year’s conference had 75 new exhibitors. Maybe my first impression wasn’t correct after all......
Rocky Mountain Chapter
When I first saw the exhibition floor of the SIGGRAPH 2006 Conference, through a window from above, I was somewhat disappointed. For some reason it seemed to me to be smaller than in some past years. Later, at the keynote address I was surprised to hear that this year’s conference had 75 new exhibitors. Maybe my first impression wasn’t correct after all. Indeed it wasn’t. I spent the better part of three full days walking the exhibition. In those three days I wasn’t able to visit all of the exhibits even at the most rudimentary level, nor was I able to explore any single company to the depth I would have liked. The exhibition at SIGGRAPH 2006 was alive, well and as overwhelming as usual. Below are just a few of the highlights.
One of the most popular booths this year was Autodesk’s since this was the first SIGGRAPH since Autodesk acquired Alias. Loyal Maya and Max users were stopping by to see what impact the merger would have on their tools. Both Maya and Max users were made to rest easy as Autodesk pledged continued support and advancement to both product lines. In fact, at the show they announced new versions of Max and Maya. Both Max 9 and Maya 8 focus on speed and the ability to support very large data sets. That is to say, fully support 64 bit processors and operating systems.
It seemed somewhat strange to see search engine giant Google on the SIGGRAPH exhibition floor, but with their acquisition of the satellite imagery technology and Sketchup they have entered into the graphics market with a bang. Judging by the number of graphics related job opening they were displaying, I would say they plan on remaining in this arena for some time to come.
Reallusion also appeared for its second SIGGRAPH. Their team was showcasing two of their products: CrazyTalk and iClone. The first few times I passed by their booth, the exact nature of these products eluded me. Only when I spoke with Gene Russen from Ivolution Studios, a Reallusion customer, did the purpose of their tools become clear. Simply put, these products allow a small studio such as Ivolution Studios to be competitive by allowing the very quick generation of face and gesture animation. Ivolution’s pipeline involves getting the animation set up with CrazyTalk and iClone, and then exporting for rendering in Maya.
More surprises were in store for me at the DAZ booth. DAZ is well known as a content provider, but they are now firmly establishing themselves as software providers as well. Among the software displayed at the show were some old favorites now falling under the able hands at DAZ. These include Carrara, Bryce 6, and Hexgon 2.1, to name a few.
Google in graphics, Maya and Max under one roof, it was all too unsettling, I needed something to help me regain my equilibrium. A quick stop and chat with Ed Caracappa, at the Boxx booth, calmed my dizziness. Boxx remains undistracted by the potential call of the consumer market and is as focused as ever on the needs of graphics professionals. Their latest products reflect that focus in no uncertain terms. Their APEXX 8, for example, has 8 dual core processors and can support up to 128 GB of memory. This is not my mother-in-law’s PC.
My balance restored, it was time to head over to the Side Effects booth to see what magic was in store from their headliner product Houdini. They were showing demonstrations of Houdini 8.1 which was released in early July. This release has a number of features focused on character animation including Auto Rig, Muscle System, Character Picker and a pose library. They were also promoting a temporary price reduction of over 40% on their flagship version: Houdini Master 8.1.
Oh no, so much more to see so little time. Softimage was highlighting both XSI and their new Face Robot product. At the Toon Boom Animation’s booth you could see Toon Boom Studio and Solo as well as their new storyboarding tool. Across the floor was FreeDesign Inc. showing off their product FreeDimension based on a new technology N-Sided surfaces (NSS). Digital Tutor’s line of video training continues to grow with many titles in both the Maya and XSI arena.
Oh man, time is growing even shorter. Passing Maxon on a dead run, I see they are highlighting the adoption of their software in the motion picture “Monster House”. From the corner of my eye, as I dash by Caligari, I see they are highlighting TrueSpace 7.1. At the next booth… too late, the exhibition is closing.
First impressions can be very deceiving. What, from a distant perspective, first looked to me like a bit of a letdown was in fact so full of innovation that you couldn’t take it all in even after three days. I know; I tried. Now is my time to rest, relax, get some sleep and dream some happy SIGGRAPH dreams.