IMPRESSIONS OF SIGGRAPH 2002
I came to San Antonio with two goals: get a cowboy hat and get
rid of as many of my demo reels as possible. I am pleased to report
I have accomplished both goals.
Aside from the hat thing and the demo reel thing I have also been
charged with the task of reporting on the conference and the experience
which is uniquely SIGGRAPH. I tried to organize my notes, collected
from my reporter’s notebook, and failed miserably. SIGGRAPH
is nonlinear. People who present papers here use big words like
stochastic, which means random. So, in keeping with the stochastic,
nonlinear nature of SIGRAPH, here are my impressions. In no particular
The Yoda session was packed. Everybody wanted to be in the same
ballroom with people who are on a first name basis with George Lucas.
I thought I was standing in line to see a rock star.
The Alamo was cool and I spent an hour one morning photographing
it. It is a significant experience to stand in a place where brave
people fought and died.
How to describe SIGGRAPH attendees… They range from Trekkie-looking
people wearing all-black, to office-Joes wearing Hawaiian shirts,
to business-formal-dressed company reps with cards for networking,
to students trying to look smart and grown-up (my category), to
people from all over the country speaking in languages I can’t
understand. The cool thing is that the guy with pink, spikey hair
could very well be the lead character animator for a prestigious
effects house. Or the president.
This is my second SIGGRAPH and I had the pleasure to meet people
I haven’t seen since last year. I feel like I’m getting
cycled into the SIGGRAPH loop. I see people who have been going
to the conference for many years doing the same thing.
I was lucky enough to see behind-the-scenes stuff from movies like
“Stuart Little 2,” “Spider Man,” “Ice
Age,” and of course “Star Wars.” It made me want
to be like the people up at the podium talking about footage they
created. The funny thing is that those people look just like the
rest of us. I guess I expected them to float effortlessly trough
the aether which we mortals are forced to walk through.
The Electronic Theater succeeded in making me feel tremendously
unworthy in the presence of such accomplished work.
I was reminded of news footage of Janet Reno dancing while I was
at the Opening Reception. I guess I fell into the false generalization
that computer scientists are a bunch of anti-social people who don’t
know how to have fun. But I took some really cool pictures of SIGGRAPHers
breaking it down in style.
The River Walk was wicked-cool. However I will say that if I have
to go to the River Center and listen to their band playing Simon
and Garfunkel over and over again I am going to be sick.
I wish I had more time to devote to the conference. There are so
many things to do and when you get tired of walking around you can
stop in at the Computer Animation Festival and see amazing animations
you won’t find anywhere else. There is just so much to do.
I am glad I am relatively new to this and don’t have a million
friends in the industry like it seems other people here do. I’d
never get anything done.
It is really inspiring to look at the conference as a whole. In
the special sessions and on the exhibit floor I see technology that
originated in places like the Papers sessions. People love SIGGRAPH
for different reasons. Some consider the highest honor to be presenting
a paper and being recognized by the academic community. Other people
feel a sense of accomplishment when their booth attracts gaping-mouthed
I like being in the same convention center as people who pioneered
the graphics we take for granted today. I like cutting through the
crowds and thinking about all the cool jobs the people here have
and how they are doing the stuff which the rest of the world considers
My last night at the conference I said goodbye to some people who
graduated from my school. They are going on to pursue lives in computer
graphics and I don’t know when I’ll see them next. Perhaps
I’ll run into them at SIGGRAPH.