INTERVIEWS

Darin Grant
Darin Grant is the SIGGRAPH 2003 Computer Animation Festival committee chair and currently Manager, Technical Directors & Software at Digital Domain.

What first drew you to computer graphics? I was born and raised in Cupertino, CA, the home of Apple Computers and the heart of Silicon Valley. Computers were an everyday part of my life from the first programming class I took when I was just 8 years old.

I got my first bite by the CG bug when I saw some animations that some kids had put together using pirated copies of Electric Image and Mac Renderman. I was blown away that people could render out these image sequences on a home computer. In college, I focused on Computer Graphics and was lucky enough to get a tour of Digital Domain my junior year. I fell in love and
have been working here since two weeks after graduation.

Do you have any favorite computer graphics mentors?

I'm fond of any of the founding fathers of Computer Graphics. When it comes down to it, anyone who has made a significant contribution to the industry is a mentor to me. If there were SIGGRAPH trading cards, I'd probably have the whole series.

What was the first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH?

I've actually never submitted a single submission of my own. The first "contribution" that I ever made was to be a juror of the technical sketches sub-committee in 2001.

What year/city was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?

First was Los Angeles, 1997 (although I'd been reading the proceedings before that). On many levels, that was the most intense SIGGRAPH for me because it was right at the beginning of a big downturn in the visual effects industry yet it was the biggest SIGGRAPH ever. I was trying to absorb so much while also trying to ensure that I'd have a job in the future.

But I believe that this SIGGRAPH will eclipse that one in intensity for me. The Computer Animation Festival Chair is one of the most challenging things that I've ever done and probably ever will.

What contributions to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of? I'm very proud of my volunteer contributions to SIGGRAPH but I think the thing that I'm most proud of is pushing to ensure that Digital Domain submits each year. I'm the unofficial voluntary DD Sketches coordinator and I make sure that all of our submissions are in, the tapes get made, and the acceptances get cleared for presentation. I do it because I feel that it is incredibly important for "industry" to give back to the SIGGRAPH community and I hope that DD stepping up to the plate has encouraged other companies to contribute more as well.
What's your favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH? I loved the Papers Fast Forward session last year and expect it to be terrific again this year. Getting all of those authors up there in short order really captures the energy and spirit of SIGGRAPH.

I also loved discovering the SIGGRAPH Studio last year. For many of us that attend the technical sessions, it's an undiscovered country of incredible experiences and community. I got a rapid prototyped CG model made in the Studio last year and it's one of the coolest things I own.

What near/intermediate developments in CG do you look forward to?

I'm very excited by Hardware Rendering technology. The work being done there is definitely closing the gap between what is done in software to what can be done on hardware in real-time. I'm also excited by the closeness of the industry to creating believeable, photorealistic CG humans. Each new development and discovery brings us that much closer to realizing that "holy grail" of our industry.

 

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Last updated 8/11/03.

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Photos courtesy of Cybershot digital cameras generously loaned by SONY.