eTech & Art & More

SIGGRAPH 2001 Exhibition

Clarissa Lingas
17 August 2001

It's amazing, what exhibitors will do for an attendee to take those
extra three steps over to their booth.

Every year at SIGGRAPH the Exhibition Hall is teeming with exhibitors ; studios, companies, schools and services - who construct monumental booths, boast raffles for great prizes, sacrifice millions of company dollars in promotional giveaways, and even hire beautiful models in spandex to strut all over the Exhibition Hall. Much to an exhibitor's chagrin, these expensive practices guarantee only the momentary attention of the attendee, who much of the time leaves as soon as he grabs some free cool stuff and never thinks of the exhibitor again. But in business, this is a necessary risk for that potentially useful and highly valued attention. The exhibitors who master the balance of sacrifice for attention grow to better compete with other exhibitors for that attendee attention, and for the average attendee that can only mean even more and cooler free stuff. So the lengths the exhibitors will go to can get pretty amazing.

It seems the traditional free T-shirt and candy doesn't cut it anymore. Although booths giving shirts and edible things still have a place on the SIGGRAPH exhibition floor, exhibitors have learned that it constantly takes more to raise an attendee eyebrow. Over time, booths have come to include free drinks, free demo CDs, and free pens among others. This does more for the exhibitors than attract more attention, however: It also sends forth a signal of business stability and strength to the attendees and to the competition. Businesses strive to generate a sense of security in their consumers, laborers, and stockbrokers, while perhaps instilling a little fear in their business rivals and favorably raising the stakes in the competition. So by all means, exhibitors, play on!

I picked up some noteworthy creativity among the booths after a quick once-over of the Exhibition Hall. UCLA Extension puts a neat little spin on the free candy bowl by baiting the bowl with fortune cookies instead. On one side of the fortune is a quote, and on the other side is their company name and contact information. Mine had a quote from Mohammed "A man who has no imagination has no wings." Well said and well done, UCLA Extension. Another art school, the Expression Center for New Media, as well as booths such as Sony's, were giving away mints in well designed mint boxes, personalized for their respective exhibits and both small enough to fit any pocket. Cycore Cult 3D was one of numerous booths giving out those round, red-and-white striped mints, while Cycore sweetens the pot with a free demo CD. Of course, the free demo CD is by no means a new idea. Not to be outdone, Animaster gave out an Animaster 4.0 demo CD, and on top of that, offered two very cool pen kits for three dollars American. The steely version is $3, the transparent magenta version free after purchasing two of the steel-looking version. These pen sets are convenient to carry and downright easy on the eyes, and for three dollars to one they're pretty close to perfect.

Pulse 3D arguably had the most popular booth in all of SIGGRAPH 2001 Exhibition, and that was thanks to their free muppet dolls. Talk about popular giveaways: the largest mob of freeloading attendees I had witnessed in the Exhibition Hall barged and walked coldly all over each other to shave minutes off their waiting time in their hurry to run off with a stuffed Jim Henson muppet. Apparently Pulse 3D has added to the success of their free Kermit success last year by adding Gonzo to the muppet choices this year. Both Kermit and Gonzo are happily donning Pulse 3D pins on their chests. Although the Pulse counters were visibly filled with Kermits and Gonzos, their faces piteously crowded together and squashed against the glass showcases, you can believe that they can run out of supplies by the end of the day. Don't even ask about their pen supply.

Compaq was one of the many booths that went the contest raffle path. At this booth, if you had your gray SIGGRAPH card swiped in, you were automatically put in a drawing to win an iPAQ Pocket PC. Softimage, along with a poster and a fully functional demo CD of Softimage 1.5, enters you in their NVIDIA Quadro DCC contest, all with the swipe of your card. Then there were the booths built like Wonders of the World. Booths like Alias/Wavefront, IBM, Pixar, and Square were as tall and encompassing as some religious places of worship, and they were true displays to their company's might. Some of these booths didn't even have any contests, demo CDs, or cards, not even one free shirt. Why? Because they don't need to do that anymore. Biomorph definitely wasn't giving away a free desk, not even a paperweight. The look of their booth and their mouthwatering computer desks were running on pure coolness alone.


My favorite things on the show floor were the large LCDs at the NTT booth and the IBM booth. The volume in a glass tube display using the TI micromirror chips in the Actuality Systems booth and the exoskeleton covering the entire forearm and all fingers in the Immersion booth.

Since I was busy wrangling reporters, I could not spend too long there, so, I had to ask friends what was cool to see. -Y





This page is maintained by YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh All photos you see in the 2001 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY