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Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH Student Feedback 2007

Below is the feedback from the students who attended SIGGRAPH 2007 in San Diego through the Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH program. The ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Pioneers sponsored the students.

We've removed the students’ and mentors’ names, and reformatted the text for consistency.

All content, grammar and spelling are directly from each student.


I am one of the teenagers that got to go to SIGGRAPH on the student mentor program.

I would like to say in this letter what I thought of SIGGRAPH and the program.

I will start with the mentor program because I believe that it is a wonderful idea. I really enjoyed this because I would like to get in some of the fields of work that were shown at SIGGRAPH. My mentor was nice enough to ask me what I was interested in and then he told me of programs and schools that would be good for me. He also showed me basically everything the first day I was introduced to him. He helped me with the schedule so that I would know where everything was located and what time and day certain things started. So thanks to my mentor I knew my way around and got to enjoy the convention. That's the only way I can think of how to present my mentor and the mentor program itself. Now I wish to talk about the convention.

SIGGRAPH was wonderful and very helpful to me because of the future I have chosen to pursue, being an animator. I enjoy a lot of the presentations, companies, and new programs that are out or coming out. My favorite presentation was on the transformers movie it was an entertaining learning experience I really enjoyed that movie so it was fun seeing and hearing how it was made. I got see what my future job would be like thanks to that special presentation. My favorite companies at the convention were Activision, DreamWorks, and Insomniac. I got to have the chance to speak with people that worked at these companies and even see if I was capable of getting a job at them right now. I also got see future DreamWorks movies and how they go about their daily animating. Yes for me SIGGRAPH was a big help on how my future looks I hope that I can go again some other time in my life.


I am 17 and I had the honor to be invited to Siggraph this year.

I attend a recently charter high school in San Diego. In school, I have an ROP computer arts class that I take whenever possible in which I work on 3d design with Cinema 4d, and it was this class that I found out about Siggraph and the fact my teacher had signed me up to be in a raffle to go to Siggraph for free.

Finding out that I had been chosen was an exciting experience, and that was pushed even further when I was able to go there on the first day and meet my mentor.

The week I spent at Siggraph was a blast, yet also a bit of an over whelming experience. I was able to go wherever I wanted to go, my mentor helping me along the way, and see all kinds of crazy stuff. On my first day there I went upstairs to the ballroom full of new inventions made by random people and college students. Some were odd, but others were brilliant and I am hoping to see more of such things in the future. On my second day I went to a few of the showings, including the Transformers showing with the producers which was an enlightening experience, as I had seen the movie only a few weeks before hand. The rest of the week was spent in the main hall with all of the major companies who had set up all their stuff to entertain and captivate the crowds. That was the most fun I had there, and the most rewarding as I got to see first hand exactly what was out there and what could be done with current day technology. I got to see programs I had worked with, programs I had never seen before, and technology I didn't even think existed surrounded by people who did all of this for a living, captivated by the same wonder I had.


To Infinity and Beyond

I remember when I first heard about the Siggraph Convention; it was during one of my casual lunchtime visits to my teacher's classroom that he told me about the Mentor Program being offered to the ROP classes at our school. I was immediately interested after hearing his short description. This was "THE" convention of artists and engineers in the 3D Animation (and related) industries, so I would have had to have been a fool to pass up such an amazing opportunity. A few weeks later, I received word that I'd been chosen for the program -- I was ecstatic to say the least.

Over the course of my fun, yet short-lived 4 days at Siggraph, I experienced everything from testing novel haptic devices to browsing fine artwork in the gallery. I met a number of friendly and talented people, perhaps making a few of my first connections in this giant web of networks. I tried out software I've been drooling over for months and even more I'd never even heard of. I learned how certain effects were accomplished in Hollywood films, I saw Motion Capture in action, listened to detailed technical papers... it seemed like there was almost nothing presented that did not interest me in some way. I think the only complaint I have is that there wasn't enough time to do everything I had planned. It seemed like there were always multiple things going on at the same time for me, so I had to make a lot of sacrifices. That and the high price of a sandwich to quench my appetite are about the only things that left resentment in the pit of my stomach (quite literally).

I couldn't possibly write about everything I felt was important or interesting during my stay at the convention, but there were a few activities that really stand out in my mind. I think my favorite part of Siggraph was listening to the sketches and technical papers on Pixar's film, "Ratatouille." It was really mind-boggling seeing the techniques they used to overcome the trickiest obstacles in modeling and animating the story. I was also quite shocked at how much of the content I actually understood -- I had felt a bit overwhelmed at first, dizzied by the scores of technical terms and by the rate at which these experts explained their procedures -- but as I listened closer and reflected on what I had learned in my ROP classes back in school, everything became a little easier to comprehend.

Another part of Siggraph that caught my attention was the "Emerging Technologies" area. There were so many innovative and astonishing exhibits all crammed inside one room! I remember seeing electronic ink fly across paper, neon-lit furniture that changed colors as it was used, a whale-shaped organ than was played with interactive water spouts, a wind communication interface, and so much more. I spent hours in that room alone, experimenting with all of the cool gadgets.

Lastly, I thought the Animation Theater was nothing short of magnificent. It was looped throughout the whole week, so I stopped inside at various times to watch. So much work was put into all of the productions, and it clearly paid off. I think I liked more of the animations there than I did at the big Electronic Theater, though everything presented was amazing. I hope that someday I can be involved in such projects. It would be a dream-come-true.

For me, Siggraph was more than a learning experience, more than a summer field trip for my Animation class. Siggraph was like a prelude to what I hope will eventually become my career and lifestyle. I can see myself returning to the Convention year after year, not as an intimidated, fresh-out-of-high school student, but as someone who works in the field -- someone who contributes to the Festival. I feel extremely privileged to have taken part in this program, and I know it will undoubtedly help me in the future. Thank you so much for the opportunity!


This year, I had the privilege of attending the annual Siggraph computer graphics and technology convention at the San Diego convention center.

In June of this year I graduated high school, but a few months before graduation my 3d animation teacher offered me a spot in the mentor program for this year's convention. Prior to his mentioning, I had never heard of Siggraph before, but from my teacher's description of it I assumed it was a 3d animation/computer graphics convention. Little did I know all the amazing things I would have to opportunity see; not only in the computer graphics field, but the technology field as a whole.

When I arrived at the groups meet-up point the first day and met my mentor, one thing I clearly remember him mentioning was "Don't even attempt to try and see everything because it is impossible." This is something that I later found to be 100% true. The first thing that I set out for was the papers session "Image Slicing & Stretching" in the biggest hall in the east wing; Rooms AB & CF. The first panel up were a team of people who developed a method of real-time high-quality matting called Soft Scissors. In layman's terms, it was a software that you could run in photoshop or other photo editing programs that, when dragging the tool around a certain object in the picture, would single it out from the rest of the background picture and would do so with extreme accuracy and speed. Right off the bat, I was amazed because I had never seen such a crystal clear matting software used before; the before and after pictures blew me away. The following panel was of a team who developed the most amazing image-resizing software I have ever seen. They would take a picture, resize it any which way and the picture was still stay virtually intact, resizing but keeping all the characteristics of the photo. They did this by cutting out seems in the photo, which were areas of the picture that repeated and were not necessary to define it.

Following that panel was a presentation from one of the head developers at EA Games, one of the biggest video game developers in the world. This was one of the most interesting and captivating presentations I saw during the entire Siggraph convention. He explained the progression over time of video games and the video game industry, going back as far as to show a 1979 computer graphic. The highlight of his presentation was how he explained that video game developers have become too concerned with putting out games with top-of-the-line graphics and as a result make video games that lack substance and story. This is something that I've found to be more often the case than not for some time and I was glad to hear someone in such a prominent position in gaming state this and aim to change it.

The emerging technologies section was definitely another highlight of my time at Siggraph and was also one of the biggest surprises for me. There were so many amazing different developments from all different aspects of technology, but there were a few in particular that stand out in my memory. The first one was the Microsoft Touch-Table; a product I had heard about some time ago but had never seen in person. The display was so crystal clear and there were so many different things to do on it; I just wish there had been a smaller gathering around it! The one that stood out above all for me was actually not really an emerging product trying to make it's way into the market place, but was in the art gallery section of the emerging technologies. It was a section of the room blocked off with black curtains and inside were around 20-30 globes. The globes were illuminated from within them and they all were changed to emphasize different statistics. For instance, there was a globe that for wherever the land was darker, the more of that area's population were smokers.

The animation theater was probably my least anticipated section of Siggraph but turned out to be the most consistently enjoyable sections overall. There were two rooms, side by side, showing different short films from independent companies. There were all different types of genres, from abstract to comedy to music-based, but all were pertaining to 3d animation. There were some really mind-blowing and entertaining films that I witnessed, but my favorite was a piece which featured recreations of artwork by M.C. Escher, one of my favorite artists, with one of my favorite yet rarely ever heard classical pieces "BWV 1060 - 3 - Allegro".

On the third day there were two significant highlights of my time at Siggraph. The first one was my first venture down to the Guerilla Studio and in retrospect was a way overdue visit! There were so many fantastic things going on down there; from free 50" x 60" high quality printouts of one's work, to innovative high-end 3d animation tools like motion sensor and face capture. But those most interesting thing I got from it was this small music section they had in the 2d department. I am a musician and am more experienced in that field than I am in 3d, so anything relating to music at the convention I had on my priority list, although I ran into this section by accident. The guy who was hosting had some really cool software and computer music program setup and introduced me to some software that I had been wanting to use for a very long time and finally got the chance to do so. The second significant highlight of that day was the Full-Conference-pass only panel of the head developers at LucasArts. LucasArts is responsible for developing all the Star Wars video games and recently formed a joint relationship with ILM. They showed in detail how they developed video games there in every aspect from the custom-made software, to level design, to physics and gameplay details. The biggest thing that I got from it though was that you could tell that the people who worked there were like one big family and that it wasn't a job that you could possibly hate. Also, down on the floor later on in the day I ran into one of the presenters of the panel (I believe it was Nick Porcino, not sure though) and commented on what a great presentation him and the rest of the guys gave. He actually seemed interested in having a conversation with me and also seemed like a genuinely nice guy, which is nice to see for someone with such a position at such a large company.

The final highlight of my experience at Siggraph was the very last panel of the year. The focus was on water in film's showcasing several sections of the water in "Surf's Up", the waterfall scene in "Pirates of the Caribbean 3" and the liquid battlefield scene in "300". "Surf's Up" has probably the most realistic 3d water in any film I've ever seen or in any film ever made for that matter and it was really cool to see how they made their waves in detail, step-by-step. The final speaker, representing "300", was also the funniest one of the entire four days and was perfect for wrapping up the convention.

As I said in the first paragraph, and I realize this more now in retrospect, I had no idea how much I would come away from Siggraph with. There was one major thing that I got from the convention in particular though. Before coming to Siggraph, my mindset was that I would like to get into the field of 3d animation but it just doesn't seem practical." I thought this because of how well I picked up many different aspects and fields revolving around music at my age; I wasn't picking 3d as quickly or as well. Therefore to me, getting into both fields did not seem very practical. But after talking to people and being immersed in the field for the 4 days, I realized that there are possibilities to major in both fields at the same time. There are things like government grants, getting into on the businesses first to pay for the other's education, or even scholarships for a college that teaches both (FullSail). Ultimately, I came away realizing that being trained in the music & 3d animation fields to the point of majoring in them is not that impractical of a goal, something that I would not have said in confidence before the convention. Big thanks to: my teacher for setting up me with the mentor program, my mentor, all the speakers and people in the exhibition hall who gave me advice, and above all the people who make the convention happen. I'll be at Siggraph '08 in Los Angeles for sure!


My mentor was very helpful getting me started.

He showed us around the first morning, then let us go explore in the afternoon.Each day was a little different, with new joys and excitement.The conferences were a little difficult to keep up with, but what a great experience.

There was plenty to do in the convention center. The exhibits were personally the best, seeing in person, up close some of the coolest equipment in the world, so it seemed to me. There was the emerging technology exhibit, showing everything from Plasma paper to Real Time virtual rendering, that allows you to stick our hand into a box with nothing in it, and see your hand in the virtual world.Ones hand interacts with the objects in the virtual world such as slapping a jack in the box, which is more fun than it sounds.

The second exhibit I liked was the Guerrilla Studios, it was sort of a printing studio, but so much more.One could print 3D pictures of your creations and if you need help they were there to run it through with you.They also had a section where you could have a model carved out, which I took advantage of, and turned in my model of Raven Ashire. I sent it in on Tuesday and kept checking on it, but unfortunately found out on Thursday that my model didn't turn out.My model had been crushed on accident, I was very disappointed, but the poster I was able to have made will be great for my senior exhibition.

On Wednesday I invited two of my friends to come with me to the convention using my Mom's exhibit passes. We went and saw everything together, well at least what they could see. They were impressed with all the technology items.

They wished they could have attended the whole convention.

I enjoyed my time at the convention, I am very grateful to have been able to attend. I want to enter the field of animation and was able to make contacts with some of the companies that will be hiring in my field. Wow. It was great finding out exactly what they are looking for and what programs are being used.

Thank you to my mentor, you were a good mentor to me and my group. Thank you for all your help, and time that you spent with us. I hope to see you at SIGGRAPH 2008


Siggraph, I will never forget it.

When I was told about siggraph I thought it would just be an interesting and informational experience, which would be nice to learn and nothing more. I wasn't to far off the point. What I was wrong about was how it would have impacted my life, my future, and myself as a person. I had to make some hard decisions the week of siggraph as I was supposed to join the military. My family cannot take care of me anymore and are removing me from the house(a kinder way of saying it). So it was either the military or siggraph. I made my choice and decided to go with it and I am very glad with the results.

One thing that I want to do is become a video game developer. Siggraph has immensely changed my views and thoughts on video games and design.

What it did to me was show me how little I know. I was completely blown away by all the information I had to upload in my head. For me this just wasn't an experience this was a look into what I want to become.

My first day of siggraph I was a little late and could not find my mentor. Therefore I was given VIP treatment by Siggraphs management. Thank you Siggrpah organizers(especially Jim) as you made me feel welcome at siggraph and the event much more enjoyable. My first stop was the Video game symposium and it was a memorable one. I learned about prototyping and game development problems. I also met a few college professors who could help me along towards my goal of being a game developer. After checking out the symposium I headed towards the sandbox to try out a few games there. What I met was a couple gamers who were also interested in becoming developers themselves and we shared contact information. Afterwards I went to emerging technologies and had a look around. What I saw there was completely amazing.

There were things that I didn't even know could be possible. I can go over the various booths that I saw, first booth I went to allowed you to control a robotic head based on your own head movements. Another booth allowed you to interact with someone on another screen by blowing on it.

There were also areas such as interacting in a video game by touching, interacting with a digital object, chairs which change color when sat on, a 4d globe as well as others. After checking out the art gallery as well I decided to head out for that day.

My second day of siggraph was much moreimmersing as I went around to various sessions. The first session I went to was on 3d animation for the movie surfs up and how they worked on specific effects to create the look of the movie. I also checked out the animation theater as well as learning more about my mentor and finally meeting him. My mentor is a very interesting person with a large background when it comes to computers. He has helped me a lot by suggesting certain areas of interest.

I also checked out Fjorg and met a video game programmer. What I noticed most in the first two days of being at siggraph wasn't just the technology but the people. There were people around the world here as well as people who have done amazing things. My greatest asset into meeting them was hilariously video games. I met the video game programmer because he was playing a few games himself. I introduced myself and gained his contact info as well as learning how he got into the industry and what I should do to obtain a job there.

My third day of siggraph I learned about more 3d animation from the transformer session as well as checking out some video game tourneys and meeting more and more people. I couldn't stay long that day and had to leave early.But before leaving I gained more contacts that also helped me with the many questions I wished to ask.

My fourth day of siggraph I had examined the various booths and job fair. Looking for entry level positions as well as information on various schools and programs to see what I should learn and advance in the gaming industry. Afterwards I entered another tourney and checked out a few more things like financial aid to be in the more popular schools like animation mentor, or ITT tech as well as finding entry level positions in games. I ended the day at the reception and grabbed a bite to eat as well as talking to another person about their career choice and continuing my resolve to stay with video game development.

My last day I spent trying to amass all this knowledge and checked out the electronic theater. Not much after that other than another tourney I also have entered to win some more stuff.

All I have to say is I think more than anything the people have taught me how much I need to do to be what I want to be. This has been an amazing experience especially in the fact that there are so many people I can learn from and see how much knowledgeable people really are. As well as not being oblivious to whats really out there and I will hopefully try to come to siggraph next year. I liked to thank my mentor as well as all the other people who have taught me that there is still a lot for me to learn and not give up in what I really want to do.


The Greatest Time Ever

When I first heard about siggraph I didn't know what it was and I gladly accepted to go. I knew the layout of the convention center but not in the way of where everything was. Well when I first got there I thought it was going to just be a bunch of business stuff, but I was wrong about that. I walked away from the convention with a lot of knowledge that I did not have before. When I walked in the door the first thing I did was look for my mentor for help around the place. My mentor was a great help because I got into the convention center the first day when it was supposed to be the next day that we were supposed to go there so I got the general layout it was so cool! My mentor was very helpful with everything I asked of him and when I needed him he was there. I got to learn how to make some new stuff in 3D animation and I learned where to and how to get jobs in my field of work that I want to do. I also found some of the companies that I idolize to work for and got to meet some people from that company. It was great to meet some people that I hope to work with or for some day.

After all of that I went to the emerging technologies and saw some really great things there that I hope to see on the market some day. I saw quite a few things that I really loved and that was really great to see some new things that were never imaginable! But all in all it was a great convention that I walked away with a lot of knowledge and many new experiences.


SIGGRAPH 2007 Reflection Report

What I liked the best about SIGGRAPH 2007 was the photography class I took in the exhibition with the art Institute it was so fun I took over 500 pictures of nature that made me feel good. Some of picture I took made me feel that I can be a great photographer some day. Some of the picture I took I was able to make a huge poster the size 32'-64' inches. It included all of the wonderful pictures I took that were unique. I also enjoyed the gorilla theater the second most because I learned a lot. I learned how to make 3d animation come to live using Maya 8.5 unique software for animation production. In the gorilla theater I was able to get a 3d scan of my face it was so unique but for me was so hard to keep still. It took over 5 and more tries to get it right. What is also unique about the gorilla theater was that we got to hands on experience with all the profession software that I might never I have a chance to use again. I know you heard of the program "Get flipped", it was so nice. I got to take two picture of me that was afterward put on paper.

The animation theater was very cool I liked it a lot. The graphics show was so unique that I went suffering on the net for them. For example the electronic sheep, that affect was so cool. I also learned electronic papers they were unique to I had a great time watch all of the 5 minutes animation films. At the animation theater I was impressed of all that happened. They invited people to play games on stage before the show. I have never seen such a thing. That event really amazed me.

One thing that happened that day before going to the animation theater was that I kept losing the team because of the excitement in the exhibitions. At the exhibition I got to see ever boot. One of the coolest things I've seen at the exhibition was the group called formula 8. Formula 8 was group and a system that was made for beginner drivers that are practicing for the behind the wheel text. There is a real cool car looking machine that has all the features of a car. I was able to try out the machine. At first I was a horrible driver that kept on driving into thing. But after taking a number amount of chance I became better. Now that I feel I did well I feel like aiming for my licenses?

At the convention center my friend and I had a great time. We entered a cool workshop that talked about transformers. I learned a lot in I am hoping to learn more. One thing I learned while listening to the people speaks is that it took six month to make a transformer, only one not including all of the transformers. So if you think about it you will be surprised on how long it took them to make the movie.

In the emerging technology I was impressed when I saw the new program that Microsoft made for places like restaurants. The program was called Microsoft surface. It is very cool. In the future I will be planning on getting it for my business that I am about to create call "All In One". I am thing that this business would make a lot on all the Item and tutorial we sell to people.

In last of all I had fun meeting people at the reception. The reception was not as I thought of it. I thought that it would be and a hotel. But still it turned out to be great. I like the desert their. What impressed me was that they had ice cream I wasn't expecting that. Other than that I had fun. In my life I have never been at a reception. In my life I have never entered the convention center.

My overall thinking of SIGGRAPH is that it was very great I had a lot of fun and that I am hoping to go next year as a student volunteer.


To Each Their Own Convention

To start off on such a wonderful subject such as SIGGRAPH, I must first explain what it is. SIGGRAPH is a convention held yearly at one city in the United States, where the best in Animation, Gaming, and Graphic Companies come to "strut their stuff". This entails them showering the public that they can get with one-of-a-kind promotional merchandise and insight into how they make their products. That's not the best part, there are many opportunities to break into the industry as long as you have a portfolio and a resume tailored to your interests for a career (and sent to the areas that need your talents no less!). SIGGRAPH is a well of inspiration to a newcomer such as myself, a little overwhelming at first, but you can get used to all the new things emerging in the technology industry.

The booths at the convention center were piled high with flyers, computers, and anything that the companies specialized in. Motion Capture dominated throughout the entire realm of SIGGRAPH. One could simply put on a suit, dance around and be silly, only to see a creature/goblin/pirate/Viking do everything the person did, at the time they did it. This was the best way to animating realistic movements, which were usually reserved for the more serious of animations (serious as in the sense of mood, not quality). These animations could further be used as in-game movements, such as the game Devil May Cry 3 (which even included a video of the motion capture they used throughout the game). Game systems were set-up by the companies to show past, and future, projects in the field of Game Manufacturing. A booth even went as far as being a free arcade, and there were colleges advertising with games their students had made. Other booths, such as Blizzard & SEGA, were showing the cinematic trailers to the games. These booths were the eye candy at SIGGRAPH, along with animations/tutorials/demos done by such companies as LucasFilm, and ImageWorks. There was nothing short of remarkable at the convention.

A smaller, but more impressive area of the convention was the Emerging Technologies, where wacky and ingenious products took their residence. There was big and small names, familiar and foreign names showcasing their inventions. There were such things as Hepatitis C chocolates (the chocolates were in the atomic form of the Hepatitis C virus, not chocolates that gave you Hepatitis C (that's another market in itself, but let's not go into it, shall we?)) among the intriguing set of chairs from Japan that changed color when you sat on it, and Microsoft's Beta (or was it an Alpha?) version of their newest venture into making a touch screen based computer operating system. As much as I would love to go on about motion sensitive projectors, paper-thin palm pilots, and Nintendo Wii-based technology, I have to move on to the job fair.

The job fair was a busy area in the convention, as applicants struggled for internships and job positions, and companies attempted to sway the public to their side with promotional gifts. Students fresh out of (or still in) High School were seemingly unwelcome by some of the booths that were there just to get job applications out to better suited applicants... one could not even get a list of the positions available out of some companies there. It was very friendly otherwise, as some of the people manning their booths took a break and spoke with others around the booths about the media or games their company had made.

It was a bit much to take in at first, but there was many things that I was able to see at this convention. Sure there were some disappointments, there were surprising things too. But on the whole at SIGGRAPH, you got questions answered and free stuff, two things that make the world go round.


The one thing I like the most was animation class in the gorilla studio.

I am a junior at Morse high school. I was invited to the Siggraph 2007 convention in the mentor program. In the time being I have learned a lot more about computers. It has been a very good experience to me. I was amaze by the incredible exhibition they have. The one thing I like the most was animation class in the gorilla studio.

The animation class was very informative, I learned the main thing about animation, it's that you have to make the root first before anything, without the root the animation wont work. In the exhibition I took a class of photograph and then we used photo shop CS3 to play around with the pictures, I took this as a good experience because I have never taken any photograph class, and it was my first time using photo shop CS3.

I also had the opportunity to go and watch Spider Man 3 treble play; it's like a show where producers talked about how they came up and made Spider Man 3 the movie. It took around 950 shots for the movie; computer made almost all the movie. I learned a lot in my time over at the convention and I hope to have another chance to go to another class of yours any time, but in the time being I had a good experience, and I met an animation teacher. His willing to give me an animation class, I am going to take animation classes from him through the computer.