PAPERS

Paper Presentations Enlighten Core

SIGGRAPH is generally known as the premier International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. The paper presentation is the core of this large conference, especially for the research and academic communities at the conference. As Joe Marks, the SIGGRAPH 2004 paper chair, says simply, "SIGGRAPH is known for having the most current research in the field."

SIGGRAPH Paper Presentaions are the core of the conference and attract large audiences

The SIGGRAPH conference is well known for its tight standards (19% acceptance rate for 2003) and publication-quality research. Just as the field of computer graphics is growing in diversity and scope, the research presented at the conference is especially diverse and crosses the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, robotics, acoustics, and modeling.

This reputation for being the pinnacle of computer graphics research draws large, diverse audiences, especially in comparison to typical academic conferences in related fields (e.g., Computer Vision). This audience includes a wide gamut of members from graduate students to corporate researchers to artists wanting a more through technical background.

"The questions are really insightful since there are so many professionals" says David McKinney, a viewer at the Perception presentation. In addition to the academic attendees, the conference is known for drawing people from all parts of the computer graphics industry ranging from hardware makers, to software tool development companies, to game and movie studio artists.

paper presentations at SIGGRAPH are about 30 minutes long and can be quite involved. Many talks encompass several years of research by multiple doctoral students and researchers. For this reason SIGGRAPH conference papers are often considered as prestigious as a journal papers in other fields. The content presented in often at the leading edge of the computer graphics field.

 

Presenters are shown on large screen so that all participants may view the speaker

The paper presentations at SIGGRAPH are just as sophisticated as the papers themselves. While other conferences in related fields might have hundreds of papers, SIGGRAPH has 81. However, the attendance and scope of these presentations is remarkable. The speaker addresses a large ballroom, which can sit over a thousand attendees. The presentation slides are projected on three-meter tall projection screen, while the speaker is videotaped and projected on a large display overhead. From the back of the ballroom the speaker is barley visible.

Clearly, giving a paper presentation at SIGGRAPH is unlike that of traditional academic conferences where one speaks to a handful of people in a small room (most of the attendees are actually listening!). A paper talk needs a great deal of polish, as it has to be understandable and captivating to the highly diverse audiences that are characteristic of SIGGRAPH. Again, SIGGRAPH is unique in the care and attention it provides for helping speaker’s prepare for this conference. For example, the paper presentations committee provides sample slides and backgrounds and suggestions for a successful presentation.

SIGGRAPH provides Speaker Preparation and Practice rooms to aid its presenters. The Speaker Preparation room is a room with several computers (PCs and Macintosh), network-equipped docking stations for laptops, and audio-visual equipment (e.g., VCR and DVD players) that can be used to practice and refine a talk. Each PC or station is separated by cloth partition. This gives a quiet, yet open, environment that allows one to concentrate on their presentation, yet is free enough to talk with others in their group and practice parts of their talk. While primarily for speaker preparation, the room is an ideal place to work (and write this report for instance).

When the slides are done, they are uploaded to a server for quick access during the presentations. This prevents the need for “laptop shuffling” that is so common and waists so much time at other academic conferences.

To practice the talk, the SIGGRAPH Practice room can be reserved. In a nutshell, it is the ballroom without the audience. It provides the speaker with a projection screen and all of the computer/audio-video equipment that would be provided during the paper presentation in the mail ballroom. This allows a speaker to tweak the timing and verify that all of the effects work flawlessly.

Dr. Wendy Hodges, a researcher at the University of California (Riverside) speaking on the visualization of CT (Computed Tomography) data, said that the room was quite beneficial as SIGGRAPH talks are “more visual” and “more diverse.” With respect to how the SIGGRAPH talk differed from that at other conferences she responded, “no equations … and much more graphics.”

This commitment, by both the speakers and the SIGGRAPH conference, to high-quality paper presentations makes the presentations informative and is what defines the reputation of this conference. While many worthwhile papers are not accepted, having a select few that are polished to perfection is what makes the paper session so valuable and informative to the many visitors who come to the conference.

 

The SIGGRAPH Practice Room allows presenters to polish their talks

It should be noted that unlike other conferences, the paper sessions do not overlap (with other paper sessions). This is not to say that the paper presentations do not have to compete to capture attendees’ attention; in addition to the papers are the Exhibition (the feature that makes SIGGRAPH so large) and the many courses and galleries.

The large audiences and unique format of SIGGRAPH might appear daunting and sterile, but the papers are captivating, informative, and unique. Many other conferences could learn from SIGGRAPH’s example and dedication. To paraphrase the cliché , "less (papers) are more (confernce)."

In conclusion, the papers section is an interesting and insightful experience that allows one to be immersed in the latest technologies available in the graphics community.

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Last updated 8/25/03.

The ACM SIGGRAPH Reporter program is sponsored by ACM SIGGRAPH.
Photos courtesy of Cybershot digital cameras generously loaned by SONY.