Vol.32 No.4 November 1998
Professional Chapters Annual Report
Every year, each Director on the SIGGRAPH Executive Committee compiles an annual report for the annual SIGGRAPH organization report. To keep the overall report from becoming a book, the SIGGRAPH Chair must pick highlights from each area. This issue’s Computer Graphics column contains my full annual report as presented to the SIGGRAPH Executive Committee. I hope that it helps to give you a better understanding of the structure of the Professional Chapters Committee, the events we sponsor at the annual conference and what the chapters do over the course of a typical year. Please keep in mind that this report is for the 1997-98 year so some information dates back to SIGGRAPH 97. As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1997-98 Annual Report
In the 1997-98 year, the SIGGRAPH Professional Chapters Committee (PCC) continued to fill out its roster. The existing PCC consisted of Colleen Cleary, Chair of the Publications Committee; Garry Paxinos, chair of the Communications Committee; Aliza Corson, Chair of the Events Committee; Thierry Frey, Co-Chair of the Start-Up Committee; and Arnulfo Zepeda, Co-Chair of the Start-Up Committee. Both Frey and Zepeda continued in their roles as translators for the Professional Chapters Web site. Asked to join in 1997 were Rob Rothfarb, former acting Chair of the San Francisco chapter, as Chair of the Conference Activities Committee, and Michael McCarthy, acting Chair of the Denver/Boulder chapter, to be an at-large member, working primarily on Start-Up and Event Committee needs.
The PCC had its first non-conference meeting in January 1998 in Orlando, FL. This meeting was vital to examining where we are and where we’d like to be in the future. A great deal of time was spent discussing the issue of chapter and organization membership (an issue which was debated at the SIGGRAPH EC meeting a month later) and funding of chapter event requests. Two chapter chairs also attended this meeting to contribute their views and opinions.
Monthly updates continue to be provided to the Professional Chapters leadership. Discussions on chapter and organization related topics are more commonplace now, giving the chapter leaders a greater voice in helping to develop SIGGRAPH policies. One of the biggest developments of the past year for the PCC and the chapters was the establishment of a Chapter Events Fund in the Professional Chapters budget approved by the SIGGRAPH EC. Requests to this fund were approved by a committee of PCC and chapter members that would raise questions of and provide suggestions to the chapter seeking the money.
Chapters that received grants from this fund include San Francisco (for a Student Animation Festival), Boston (for their Job Fair), Toronto (to host the SIGGRAPH Traveling Art Show), Los Angeles (for their Career Boot Camp), Mexico City (for the Visual Computing 98 Conference), NYC (to host the first SIGGRAPH Traveling Course), Paris (for expenses related to the Imagina Conference) and Orlando (for hosting the SIGGRAPH Traveling Art Show). Details on many of these events are below. Without a doubt, some of these events would not have been possible without the grants provided from the Chapters Event Fund. Due to its success this year, we will be expanding the program in 1998-99.
This year has been a productive one for the chapters in terms of new charters and chapters. Three chapters, Singapore, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., were chartered this past year with three more — East Tennessee (chartered in July 1998), Buenos Aires and Oktibbeha (Mississippi) — waiting in the wings. The Tampa Bay and Houston Chapters have both returned from a period of inactivity with new leadership and new activities on the horizon. Several other parties have expressed interest in chartering new chapters. Among these, London and Toronto are closest to becoming official chapters.
Last year’s chapter activities began with the SIGGRAPH conference. The second Professional Chapters Training Workshop was held on the Saturday before the conference and attracted more than 50 people from the chapters, the SIGGRAPH EC and the SIGGRAPH Conference Committee. The day began with a general business section that outlined the chapter conference activities and recognized the recently chartered and new in-formation chapters. We then got an overview of SIGGRAPH 97 from the Conference Chair and one of the Program Chairs. This then led us into a discussion with the SIGGRAPH 98 sigKIDS and Community Outreach Chair about how the chapters might get involved with these programs. Before breaking for lunch, which was graciously provided by ACM, we spoke with Lina Iaccarino and Fran Sinhart of ACM’s local activities area. In the afternoon, we had committee meetings and discussed topics such as membership, budgeting and policies and procedures. We continued these discussions at our annual Thursday morning meeting that was attended by 30 people.
The Professional Chapters Committee Booth was organized and managed quite capably by Colleen Cleary, chair of the PCC Publications Committee, and Rob Rothfarb, former acting chair of the San Francisco chapter. The booth was part of a cooperative effort between all the organization groups that maintain a booth — the SIGGRAPH organization, the Education Committee and the SIGGRAPH Video Review. We collected approximately 600 names of individuals that were interested in either joining a chapter or starting one of their own. Lynn Finch, acting chair of the Orlando chapter, once again provided the design for our “must-have” Professional Chapters T-shirts and pins.
We also co-sponsored a luncheon for attendees of the SIGGRAPH 97 Educators Program. This reception allowed chapter leaders to meet with individuals from the field of education that might have little or no knowledge of SIGGRAPH and the Professional Chapters. T-shirts promoting SIGGRAPH 98, its Educators Program and the Professional Chapters were also distributed. This was a successful pilot project that we will again be supporting at SIGGRAPH 98.
Another big event for the chapters is the annual Professional Chapters Party. Last year’s event was a team effort between Rod Paul, Joe Salazar, Betsy Asher Hall, Rose Duignan, Genny Yee and Diane Holland of the LA chapter and Scott Lang, the Director for Professional Chapters. Paul and Duignan were able to assemble a who’s who list of contributors and in turn, the contributors enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the only party at SIGGRAPH open to every attendee. The party was a great success with an overflow crowd until late in the evening. Between 7,000 and 8,000 people attended the event, which was held on Monday night at the Los Angeles Zoo. Many attendees commented that it helped get the week off to a rousing start. The chapters party continues to be an important social and networking activity at the SIGGRAPH conference.
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.
The Rest of the Year
After the conference is over, the Professional Chapters get to work. Currently there are 38 chartered or in-formation chapters in 12 countries. Our largest chapters have memberships well over 100. LA SIGGRAPH, with over 1,500 members, is currently the largest chapter. Mexico City has over 300, with New York City and San Francisco around 200 each. Total membership in the chapters has increased to more than 3,100 this year. Chapter mail and email lists include more than 5,000 names. Each of our chapters sponsors year-round events in their local communities and receives a copy of the SIGGRAPH Video Review from the Professional Chapters Committee in return for their work at the conference. For many chapters, the screening of these tapes represents one of the highlights of their program schedule. This year, the SIGGRAPH Video Review was screened by at least 13 chapters to a combined audience of over 3,000 people.
The majority of chapter events are the monthly, bimonthly or quarterly meetings that are usually structured around a particular topic or speaker from the local graphics community. Meetings from the last year featured titles such as the following: “Visual Supercomputing and Parallel Rendering,” “An Evening with Walt Disney Feature Animation, Disney Interactive, and Dream Quest Images,” “Virtual Great Barrier Reef Demonstration,” “True 3D Displays,” “An Evening with Sony Pictures Imageworks, Featuring a Special Screening of Starship Troopers,” “Digital Video - Present and Future,” “VENoM - Virtual Environment for Network Monitoring,” “Cinesite: From Ocean to Infinity — Creating Visual Effects for Sphere,” “Virtual Worlds in Archeology,” “Intelligent Digital Actors,” “The Work of Buf Compagnie” and “Visual Effects from Spawn.” Many groups also include a social portion to their meetings, which allows their members the opportunity to rub elbows with and ask questions of the featured presenters.
Some of the activities unique to particular chapters over the last year include the following:
The Tampa Bay ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter, working with Catalina Marketing, was able to secure almost 800 computers that were then donated to the Pasco County school district. These computers will be placed in schools and libraries to provide access to the Internet. Tampa Bay SIGGRAPH will be continuing their work with Catalina to place more computers both in Florida and in California.
Rio Grande ACM 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, 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 and two local TV stations broadcast events from the day.
The Boston ACM 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. Plans are already well under way for next year’s fair.
San Francisco ACM SIGGRAPH participated in the Sausalito Arts Festival. This year’s event attracted a record 60,000 people over three days. The chapter was responsible for curating the Computer Arts Pavilion, a new venue that festival officials credited with helping to increase the overall attendance at the show. Screenings of SIGGRAPH SVR’s and special effects reels, presentations by digital artists and hands-on access to powerful computer workstations were just some of the activities that were arranged by SF ACM SIGGRAPH. Plans are under way to expand on this successful new venue next year — and San Francisco ACM SIGGRAPH will be leading the way.
The Mexico City ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter helped sponsor a conference called “Visual Computing 98.” More than 2,800 people attended this show over the five days it was open. The conference featured speakers, panels, workshops, video screenings and an art show. In addition to being a sponsor, the chapter had a booth to promote ACM and SIGGRAPH activities.
Los Angeles ACM SIGGRAPH sponsored its first Career Boot Camp, “What We Wish We Knew When We Were New,” 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 days’ 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 companies that the session presenters represented 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, to name a few. Workshops covered a wide range of job-related activities, including interviewing, networking, resume do’s and don’ts and the aesthetics of producing a demo reel.
The New York City ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter hosted the first SIGGRAPH Traveling Course at Pace University in New York City. Dave Nadeau’s “VRML 97,” originally presented at SIGGRAPH 97, was chosen as the first session for this pilot project. Future plans include expanding this project so that more courses can be shown at chapters all over the world.
Paris ACM SIGGRAPH participated in three major conferences. They were: Imagina in Monte Carlo, CGIX in the Netherlands and the Synthesis festival in Belgium. Each conference granted complimentary space to the chapter to promote ACM and SIGGRAPH activities.
Interaction with other professional societies and museums is another way that the chapters are involved with their local communities. Many groups sponsor joint events in order to expose their members to a wide variety of topics and to attract new members from other organizations. ASCI, the Boston VR Group, the Space Communications Technology Center, ASIFA, the Greater Boston ACM Chapter, Art-Serve South Florida, Imagina, the Boston IEEE Chapter, ECDC, the Electronic Design Association, SIGGRAPH 98 sigKIDS and Community Outreach Programs, the Museum of Discovery and Science and the Alias|Wavefront Users Group are just some of the examples of the different groups that ACM SIGGRAPH chapters have worked in cooperation with over the last year.
Many chapters have established their own Web sites as a means of publicizing themselves and, in some cases, as a replacement for their printed newsletters. A home page allows a chapter to provide much more timely information to their members (and the general public) and also cuts down on the mailing and printing costs associated with a traditional newsletter. The number of chapters with a home page has gone from 14 last year to 19 this year with several more groups ready to go on-line soon.