ACM SIGGRAPH Conference Advisory Group  

Strategic Planning

Background Summary and Justifying Information

During the past two years the CAG has gathered information from a variety of sources, including published market projects, surveys, reports in marketing and meeting trends done by Conference contractors, discussions with contractors and volunteers, and group meetings and interviews held at the annual Conference. This has enabled us to identify some possible strategies for maintaining/growing the Conference and possible new strategic directions to pursue. We need  to remember that our strength is the synergy of our community; as Mike Macedonia put it "SIGGRAPH sits in the middle - we have artists, software developers and academics who do research, so it should be able to appeal to exhibitors who want developers."  Our challenge is to continue and enhance our ability to be the central meeting place where  synergistic interaction between the creative and technical can occur without becoming too diffuse.

Looking at other similar conferences, we have found that there is not much growth, with the glaring exception of NAB, which, since 1997, has doubled in attendance with a 23% increase in exhibition space. NAB has adopted the strategy of reaching out to many different, but related groups. 

The information we have gathered has identified several potential new or rapidly growing areas that we may want to attract in the next few years. A common thread of many of the discussions was the convergence and inter-connectedness of many of the topics. 

Some of the new areas are as follows:

  • Interaction Techniques
  • Games & game development 
    • Real Time graphics in games is beginning to approach cinema style quality
    • Game developers are thinking in "movie" terms, e.g., games are moving towards being movie like with more complex scripts and productions
    • AI is becoming more important in games (CPU cycles devoted to AI has gone from 10% to 30% in two years) 
  • Digital Cinema
  • Interactive TV (Set top boxes - Interaction, hardware, architecture, merging of technologies
  • AI Characters
  • Real time computer generated movies using simulation
  • Web graphics - both 2D and 3D (Note that there appears to be a shift occurring in the exhibition from the traditional exhibitors to new Web Graphics companies)
  • Digital Libraries (image, audio, video, graphics)
  • Mobile Computing
  • Audio, including positional aspects
  • Virtual Worlds used for communications ("Snow Crash" scenario, i.e. a virtual web based MUSE) 
  • Vision - computer video; not image processing but extraction of models and other features from video (extension of IBR techniques); can manipulate video as we manipulate graphics models
  • Graphics done by wide number of people -need to change so can be done by individuals; will allow artists to create more imaginative visions;
  • 2D graphics - not a new area but one that is frequently ignored but still important
  • Graphics Design - again not new but rapidly growing and related to many of the above areas

Market Analysis 

A Market Analysis was conducted to quantify and verify some of the above information. At the October 2000CAGStrategy meeting a presentation was made on the results.  Some of the highlights include the following:

  • There is convergence between video and 3D graphics
  • While all areas of 3D Graphics are growing, 3D Web Graphics is growing by far the fastest growing in volume by over 2 1/2 times between 2000 and 2004 and increasing its share of the 3D market  from 23% to 40%. 
  • While decreasing in relative importance (from 47% to 36% of the total 3D market between 200 4and 2004) MCAD is still important.
  • In animation tools, 34% of systems are sold for game development and this is increasing.
  • The market is relatively flat at the high end for film and broadcasting

Specific Directions and Communities to Pursue and Recommendations

We developed this section within the context of the overall ACM SIGGRAPH Strategic plan. We particularly wanted to follow the priority order specified in the ACM Strategic Plan Background document. This meant that we wanted to better support and service the researchers, developers, and educators in the general areas of Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. In addition, direction was taken from the results of he ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee strategy meeting in September 2000. One of the major thrusts emerging from that meeting was that SIGGRAPH exists as the intersection between different communities and that we want to increase the communication in and between these communities. We developed a set of recommendations and are in the process of implementing them.

Recommendation: There will not be any radical changes in the overall structure of the Conference, i.e. it will not evolve into a NAB-like Conference of Conferences. However, there may be some movement in this direction. Just as the Hardware Rendering workshop is now co-located with SIGGRAPH every other year, some other small specialized workshops may also be invited to do this. We may also develop new one-year programs that would function similarly to the co-located workshops to explore particular areas of interest.

Note that the SIGGRAPH Conference has been soliciting more content in the above areas starting with S 2000 and we will continue to encourage it even more.

We then looked at specific discipline areas.

Interactive Techniques

While this is not really a "new" area for the Conference, it is a neglected area. There was one meeting specifically devoted to this topic at S 2000. It was recommended that the Papers Program make more of an effort to solicit and better evaluate IT papers. This may require site visits to properly evaluate the IT submissions and the CAG decided to fund this. The Sketches Program may add an IT track to the current tracks. The IT Sketches track will work closely with the Emerging Technologies Chair so that, for example, a presenter in the IT Sketches track might have their system in E. Tech.

Computer/Video Games

This is an area that we having been cultivating recently and S 2000 had several game related courses and panels. We will continue our outreach to this community.

Online

Recommendation: The Online program will be supported but its focus will change from real time reporting to content capture for archival purposes. This will be done as an experiment for S2001, S 2002, and S 2003. It is expected that ACM SIGGRAPH will take over responsibility for saving and serving the archived material. If there is no audience for the material then the Online program will be dropped.

Web Graphics

From our data it was clear that Web Graphics, and especially 3D graphics was the hottest new growth area over the next several years. There is existing Conference content in this area and there is the currently an existing Web 3D Roundup, which is run externally but supported by the Conference. This is such an important area that the Conference needs its own program and needs to expand its content.

Recommendation: The Conference establish a Web Graphics Program that will solicit content in this area. The exact nature of this program, i.e. solicit content for existing programs or create a separate Program is not yet set. The S2002 Conference Committee has a new position of Web Graphics Program Chair and this will be continued.

Technical Outreach and Special Sessions 

Recommendation: That there be established a Technical Outreach Committee position. The task of this person is to reach out to the above communities to try to establish connections and get content for the existing Programs of the Conference. This person may have a sub-committee with each member responsible for a particular community. One of the purposes of the Special Sessions is to reach out to other communities. Starting in S2003, there will be a new Conference Committee position of Special Sessions Chair. This position will combine both the Technical Outreach and Special Sessions components.

Conclusion

We are continuing to gather information and suggestions about the strategic direction of the SIGGRAPH Conference. I will be having more interviews and discussions on this at SIGGRAPH 2002.  If you wish to discuss any of these issues, have ideas or suggestions, or want to talk to me at S2002, please email me at owen@siggraph.org. We need and want your input!