Vol.32 No.2 May 1998
Chapter Activities Provide Opportunities
What Are You Missing?
The SIGGRAPH Professional Chapters provide activities on a year-round basis. Here's a look at what's been going on over the last several months.
On January 7, 1998, the Boston SIGGRAPH Chapter held its first ever Job Fair and Exhibition at the Boston Museum of Science. The event was a great success with more than 300 attendees and 13 exhibitors. The night opened with the Job Fair and Exhibition and concluded with two screenings of the SIGGRAPH 97 Electronic Theater tape.
Exhibiting companies included SOFTIMAGE, AVID, Artel Software, Integrated Computing Engines, Inc. (ICE), Advanced Visual Systems (AVS), Cadapult Graphic Systems, ATI Research, NeTpower Inc., MAK Technologies, SensABLE Technologies, Weather Services International, Mitsubishi Electric Information Technology Center America and Great Eastern Technology.
Los Angeles SIGGRAPH
On February 7, 1998, LA SIGGRAPH sponsored its first Career Boot Camp, "What We Wish We Knew When We Were New," at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Aliza Corson, LA SIGGRAPH Chair, and Pamela Thompson, Coordinator of the Boot Camp, welcomed approximately 600 computer animation hopefuls and industry professionals to the day’s sessions and activities. Co-coordinators Genny Yee and Joe Salazar distributed prizes to those attendees that traveled the greatest distances (several were from the United States East Coast and Europe).
The opening session featured Pauline Ts'o, VP of Rhythm & Hues, presenting a reel on the making of Babe and giving an overview of the animation industry, especially with regard to the wide variety of jobs available.
Other morning sessions covered "Demo Reels," where attendees got to view student reels that led to jobs as well as hearing from those in the field what they want to see in a demo reel; "Internships," a panel that discussed the value of internships and how to get one; "Nuts and Bolts of Demo Reels," which discussed the aesthetics of producing a demo reel; and "Networking," a panel which shared stories about networking and how this can help one's career.
During a lunch break, Isaac Kerlow, Director, Digital Talent/New Technology, Walt Disney Company, gave a presentation on "Digital Careers in the 21st Century." Other afternoon sessions included "Interviewing," which provided tips on this important skill; and "Resumes," where attendees learned some do's and don'ts from those that are judging them.
Everyone gathered in the Pacific Ballroom at the end of the day to hear moderator Jonathan Erland and panelists Mike Fink, Visual Effects Supervisor; Gil Gagnon, Cinesite; Richard Hollander, Blue Sky/VIFX; John Hughes, Rhythm and Hues; Ed Ulbrich, Digital Domain; and Bill Taylor, A.S.C., Illusion Arts discuss some of the issues that face them in running facilities and the exciting changes and developments in computer animation.
The companies represented by session presenters reads like a who's who in computer graphics: Walt Disney Feature Animation, ILM, Blue Sky/VIFX, SONY Pictures Imageworks, Square USA, Cinesite and Digital Domain.
Attendees could also visit 11 exhibitors, including Art Institute of Los Angeles, Cal Arts, Cal State Long Beach, DH Institute of Media Art, Digital Media Institute, Gnomon, Otis College of Art and Design, Santa Monica College, Silicon Studios, UCLA Extension and Video Symphony.
The day was a huge success with accolades coming in from even the Governor of California who said, "Thank you for your continued efforts to promote the industry within California and to ensure that Californians have access to this lucrative career path."
Minneapolis-St. Paul SIGGRAPH
The Minnesota Electronic Theatre is a place where technology, creativity and artistry come together in a stunning display of technological wizardry. It's an exciting electronic art exhibit featuring the best of Minnesotan animation, interactive multimedia and post production work. It's a chance to display computerized creations with the best of the best.
The annual crowd-pleaser features Minnesota-made computer animation as well as interactive multimedia works. This year's show was open to individual animators, as well as being a juried show for the first time -- democracy in action!
Selected entries were projected on a large screen and also played on monitors positioned throughout the Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis. Each year the event attracts more than 600 sophisticates who come to eat popcorn, have a cocktail and chat with some of Minnesota's best computer artists.
The Minnesota Electronic Theatre is sponsored by the Minneapolis Office of Film, Video & Recording, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Professional Chapter of SIGGRAPH and Network Computing Services, Inc. (NetworkCS). Other supporters include Connecting Images, Inc., Digital Cafe, Inc., HDMG Design, Post & Effects, Twin Cities Public Television, Lamb & Company, Pixel Farm, Ronin Animation, School of Communication Arts and Windlight Studios.
Rio Grande SIGGRAPH
On February 20, 1998, the Rio Grande SIGGRAPH hosted its 9th Annual Computer Graphics Expo at the Convention Center in Albuquerque, NM. A day-long event that is free and open to the public, the expo featured presentations from 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., an exhibit hall with computer graphics companies, a student art show and an invitational art show in a local art gallery. Close to 1,000 people attended the expo this year, and two local TV stations broadcast events from the day.
The morning keynote speakers were Josh Staub and Jason Baskett from Cyan, Inc., who presented "The Making of Riven: Sequel to Myst." Riven is the hot new game by the makers of Myst which boasts gorgeous graphics and 3D animation. About 400 people of all ages and interests attended this two-hour presentation. After the keynote, the computer artists forum took place. This is an annual roundtable discussion of issues facing fine artists working in digital media. The afternoon keynote featured John Tucker of Apple Computer Corp. who discussed QuickTime 3.0, followed by a scientific visualization session with Carl Diegert and Brian Wylie of Sandia National Laboratories. The day of presentations ended with a computer graphics pioneers session where Ray Elliott, Bruce Papier, Dino Pavlakos and Pete Watterberg discussed the historical development of computer graphics in New Mexico.
In the exhibit hall, companies like Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, Apple Computer Corporation, as well as a number of statewide computer resellers and digital output services showcased their latest innovations from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The Second Annual Student Art Exhibition, sponsored by Apple Computer Corp. and The University of New Mexico, displayed artwork from local secondary schools and the regional colleges and universities. The Professional Invitational Art Show, at The Sandra Humphries Gallery, displayed the work of 12 New Mexican artists who use the computer as a fine arts medium. An opening reception was held on Friday evening, and the show continued through March 14.
Rio Grande ACM SIGGRAPH's Annual Expo at the Albuquerque Convention Center is always a great success. Past keynote speakers have included such computer graphics notables as Jaron Lanier of VPL, Tom Hutchinson of ILM, Mark Henne, Ashley Brannon and Eliot Smyrl of Pixar, and Steve Goldberg of Disney Studios Feature Animation.
San Francisco SIGGRAPH
San Francisco hosted two very popular meetings in the last six months: one featured Tippett Studio and its work on Starship Troopers, and the other featured ILM's Commercial Division.
The Tippett Studio lecture featured, among others, Craig Hayes, Tippett Studio Art Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (and Technical Achievement Academy Award Winner for the Dinosaur (Digital) Input Device). He presented a brief history of the studio, complete with videotape examples (some very rarely seen) that started with traditional stop-motion work, moved on to the innovative DID first used on Jurassic Park and finished with the present, totally CG era.
Craig then moderated presentations by Trey Stokes (Animation Supervisor), Doug Epps (CG Supervisor) and Julie Newdoll (Supervising Technical Director). These were illustrated with examples on videotape, focusing on specific aspects of Tippett Studio's work on Starship Troopers. Topics included early animatics, the importance of 'dailies,' modeling, lighting and compositing.
More than 450 people showed up to hear about Industrial Light & Magic's Commercial Division. When most people think of Industrial Light & Magic, visions of dinosaurs, death stars, spaceships and liquid metal robots come to mind. What is not well known though, is that there is another group inside ILM that produces some of the most advanced graphics and animation in the business. They are the commercial division, and their work is every bit as impressive as their feature film counterparts.
CG Supervisor Wade Howie, Character Animator/Modeler Paul Griffin and CG Supervisor Doug MacMillan showed a variety of projects done for high profile clientele, and took attendees behind the scenes to see how they create these "mini-movies" which amaze viewers all over the world.
Silicon Valley SIGGRAPH
The Silicon Valley SIGGRAPH Chapter has been busy the last couple of months. In January, they presented the SIGGRAPH 97 Electronic Theater for their members.
In February, they featured Dr. Nelson Max speaking on global illumination. Dr. Max is a Professor at the University of California, Davis/Livermore and a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His talk presented several algorithms for illumination in and below trees. These different techniques make use of Fourier transforms, shadow volume computations and slanted scan planes, image-based rendering and a z-buffer shadow algorithm.
Scott Lang is SIGGRAPH Director for Professional Chapters and a Computer Visualization Specialist at the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (AAST) in Hackensack, NJ. He teaches video production at the high school level and also works with students on projects involving computer animation and Web site design.
Colleen Cleary is the Computer Graphics Professional Chapters Editor. She works in sunny Florida at the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Colleen welcomes contributions from chapter members worldwide for possible publication in Computer Graphics.
In March, F. Kenton Musgrave of Metacreations discussed "How to Build a Planet in Less Than 1000 Lines of Code.” Professor Musgrave discussed the advantages of ontogenetic modeling -- an image-driven, engineering approach to image synthesis in which simplifying assumptions are maximized -- and contrasted this method with physically-based modeling. The models used include fractal terrains and clouds, an atmosphere that wraps around the planet and a special algorithm to image a world from any point of view and at any field of view and resolution.
In April, Dr. Yotto Koga, Chief Technology Officer of the Motion Factory, discussed intelligent digital actors. He described digital actor architecture, in particular, the integration of two new technologies -- real-time motion synthesis (which generates the movement of 3D characters on the fly in response to a dynamically changing environment) and dynamic event-based programming (which is the framework for scripting the logic of digital actors and is based on the hierarchical finite state machine model that is specifically tailored to manage complex real-time systems).
Tampa Bay SIGGRAPH
The Tampa Bay Chapter showed the SIGGRAPH Video Review, presented a demo by Kinetix of 3D Studio Max Release 2 and hosted a presentation by Intergraph of its latest hardware offerings.
This in-formation SIGGRAPH Chapter hosted the SIGGRAPH Traveling Art Show in January and February. Over 1,200 people toured the show during its stay at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
Washington DC SIGGRAPH
The DC SIGGRAPH Professional Chapter presented author Gareth Branwyn, who writes “Jargon Watch” for Wired and has been on-line since 1986. He touched on a number of subjects including on-line communities and issues of collaboration. If you are interested in viewing the lecture, it is on-line at the chapter Web site. You can find their Web address at www.siggraph.org/chapters.
These are just some of the events that have been going on over the last year. If you live near a Professional Chapter and are not a member, isn't it about time you found out what you're missing?
My thanks to the following chapter leaders for contributing to this article: Gwen Sylvan, Aliza Corson, Pamela Thompson, Olin Lathrop, Jenny Dana, Blake Barr, Adele Newton, Rob Rothfarb, Steve Demlow and Mary Higgins.