INTERVIEWS

Jan Hardenbergh

What first drew you to computer graphics? I have a very strong intuition for geometry, I like creating art and computer programming was easy for me. The first computer graphics program I wrote was in my first BASIC course in high school. It drew lines and circles on the scrolling yellow output paper. In college, the computer center got a Calcomp drum plotter and Tektronix I spent many hours playing and doing little projects for the chemistry or physics departments. My wilder college resume from 1980 had "design, document, modify, maintain and exploit graphics compilers" for an objective. I guess I knew at that point I wanted to do graphics
Do you have any favorite computer graphics mentors? Starting out in isolation did not give me a chance to have a CG mentor. My college computer science mentor, Jacques Cohen told me to transfer to Brown where his friend Andy van Dam was focussing on graphics. That was 1976. I have had the honor to work with many, many extremely talented folks over the years.
What was the first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH? Well, if we don't count the paper I had rejected in 1989 on Integrating PHIGS & UIMSs, then it would be the course in 1992. It was Building Applications with PEXlib. PEX was very hot the year before. In 1992, SGI made GL into OpenGL. That is PE's lasting legacy. 1992 was also the same year SGI introduced Inventor.
What year/city was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why? I went to the floor show, aka the exhibits in Boston in 1982, but the first real SIGGRAPH experience I had was in 1986 in Dallas. I lapped up everything! I remember Turner Whitted gave a talk on "toy tracing" about using a PC to do ray tracing - yeah, like that will ever amount to anything! The most intense is easy: 1999 in LA. Why? We brought the VolumePro volume rendering chip to the show. It was hot and very much fun to give personal demos to Turner Whitted, Mark Levoy, Dave Kirk and many others. I was co-author on the paper with Hans Pfister and our video got selected to be in the papers video, so, I got to see my name on the E.T. screen. To celebrate, Hans and I treated everyone to drinks at the Figueroa poolside. Hans and Steve Artim made up the "I know YON" button just to confuse me. It worked.
What contributions to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of? The GEEK, and by GEEK I mean Graphics Engineer of Experience and Knowledge, achievement is being a co-author on the VolumePro paper in 1999. I still hope someday to be a first author, but, I think I need to go back to school to get the time and focus. Perhaps when my own kids are out of college I can do that. The other contribution was being the first coordinator for the ACM SIGGRAPH Reporters. Leo Hourvitz had this idea and I ran with it in 2001. In the second year, 2002, with Wendy Ju as our star reporter, we did a very good job of conveying some of the feel of the SIGGRAPH conference experience. I am hoping to contribute to every venue. I did a poster this year (2004), a sketch in 2003, a paper in 1999 (and the video made it to the E.T.), eTech jury in 2000, panel participant in 1995, taught courses in 1992 and 1995. I still need to do something for the Art Show and Web Graphics - I got out of VRML too soon!
What's your favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH? Seeing friends! Other than that, I cannot speak about 2004. Last year my favorite thing was seeing friends! The favorite GEEKY thing was Terry Yoo's panel: Truth Before Beauty. And the combo eTech and Art show.
What near/intermediate developments in CG do you look forward to? I look forward to better simulations one a global that can show us what the consequences of our actions are, but, I will settle for a killer wave breaking simulation of the Bonzai Pipeline. YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh - http://www.jch.com/jch Voxelographer Time at SIGGRAPH is the most valuable commodity in all of Reality!!!

Because you have attended many years of SIGGRAPH, what trends are you seeing?

It is much more focused on the entertainment market. The computer world as a whole has moved from hardware to software.

How do you feel about the separation between academics and corporate/marketing?

SIGGRAPH just needs to find a way to incorporate more industries. Computer Graphics used to be able to have one conference that included everything, and now its that computer graphics is embedded in everything. To include it all becomes much more of a task. I just think SIGGRAPH needs to retain its sinews and keep a core confidence which I think they have. The quality of research papers is unparallel, but just hopefully that they stay relevant.

What has been your favorite part of the conference?

The swimming machine in emerging technologies was my favorite. It was magical for five minutes. I just wanted to stay on there as long as I could, and I did until the next person was completely ready.

How do you feel about the parties this year?

I think it is nice having a good Chapters Party. The parties have sure become well distributed. I have just stopped trying to find the exclusive ones.

Any other mentors you'd like to give a call out to?

Bob Schefler, in my mind is a “perfect hero figure.” He is super competent, but also very humble. In my experiences, he has been so willing to understand new problems. And the way in which he deals with them is very down to earth. There are a lot of people like that at SIGGRAPH.

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Last updated 8/2/04.

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