Asia is rising. While Japan has been dominant economically for decades, China and India are growing at a phenomenal rate, and the four Asian tigers, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are still strongly on the prowl. Asian governments are pumping billions of dollars into digital media technology research and development, and Asian contributions in this field have increased tremendously. SIGGRAPH conference figures show that while the number of papers from Asia has more than doubled in the new millennium, Asian attendance at the conference has fallen by about a third, due partly to cost and visa problems.
These form the background to a meeting between Scott Owen and Alyn Rockwood, the President and Vice President of ACM SIGGRAPH, and a group of Asian delegates during SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston. The meeting explored the possibility of having some form of the SIGGRAPH conference in Asia, which would also include Australia and New Zealand. It was a meeting of minds, and the idea was put on the ACM SIGGRAPH agenda.
Scott subsequently appointed a steering committee, chaired by Alyn. The members were Scott himself and 11 representatives from Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. The committee, together with their Malaysian host, met in Kuala Lumpur in early December 2006 to study the feasibility of such a conference.
The Steering Committee meeting in KL: Front row, left to right: Ouhyoung Ming (Taiwan), Masa Inakage (Japan), Ko Hyeong-Seok (Korea), Pan Zhigeng (China), YT Lee (Singapore).
Back row, left to right: Chris Gomez (Malaysia), Alyn Rockwood (Vice President, ACM SIGGRAPH), Scott Owen (President, ACM SIGGRAPH), Alain Zaugg (Malaysia), David Hook (Australia), Akshay Darbari (India), Vanessa Ching (Malaysia), Viveka Weiley (Australia).
The meeting strongly supported the idea of a SIGGRAPH conference in Asia, and Tokyo and Singapore were invited to bid for the hosting of the inaugural conference, to be held in December 2008 or 2009, depending on the readiness of the host. Each bid had to be coupled with a nomination for a Conference Chair who is familiar with the venue both geographically and in terms of its bureaucracy. December was chosen to keep a distance from the annual SIGGRAPH conference in August and to avoid the major Asian Lunar New Year holiday period in January and February.
YT Lee, the Vice Chair of the Singapore Chapter, and Masa Inakage, a founding member of the Tokyo Chapter, presented their bids at the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee meeting in Seattle in February 2007. The EC awarded the hosting of the first event to Singapore, based on the strength of its bid. YT Lee was also confirmed as the Conference Chair. John Finnegan, the Chair of SIGGRAPH 2006, was appointed as the Associate Chair to lend his experience and expertise in running large events.
At the end of June, a team of five ACM SIGGRAPH representatives visited Singapore to inspect the conference venue and investigate Singapore’s readiness to hold the event in 2008. Their recommendation to the Executive Committee that Singapore was indeed ready to host the first event in December 2008 was accepted. It was also decided that the event would be called SIGGRAPH Asia.
Since then, the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee has also confirmed that SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 will be held in the Japanese city of Yokohama and that the Conference Chair will be Masa Inakage.
The Goals, Aspirations and Expectations
The primary goal of SIGGRAPH Asia is to create a conference that mirrors the technical, creative, and financial success of SIGGRAPH. Initially it will be smaller in scale and scope than SIGGRAPH, but the ultimate goal is to make it the same size or even larger. In addition, several secondary goals have been derived as follows:
- 1. To create a conference where Asians and other international delegates, both technical and creative, can network.
2. To firmly establish ACM SIGGRAPH as the dominant CG & IT organization in Asia.
3. To firmly establish ACM SIGGRAPH as a truly international organization.
4. To substantially increase ACM SIGGRAPH’s Asian membership and volunteer base.
As the event will bear the SIGGRAPH name, it is imperative that SIGGRAPH standards and quality are maintained. When Kurt Akeley was approached to take on the challenging position of Papers Program Chair (a position he had held previously for SIGGRAPH 2000), he was concerned that he might be asked to reduce standards to boost the number of papers accepted. He was assured that this would not be the case, as quality has been the watchword from the outset. A further indicator of the quality objectives of SIGGRAPH Asia is the fact that the papers will be published as an issue of the ACM Transaction on Graphics.
While the papers program sets the technical standard, it is the rich variety of programs that make SIGGRAPH such an attractive event. SIGGRAPH Asia will emulate this diversity with an agenda comprising papers, sketches and posters, a computer animation festival, digital art and emerging technology galleries, an educators’ program and a trade exhibition. To produce the best programs, we have on board experienced and well known individuals with strong connections in the field as program chairs. We present their credentials in the last section of this article.
While the inaugural SIGGRAPH Asia may be smaller in size than SIGGRAPH, the objective is to ensure that the attendees will be stimulated and inspired on no less a scale.
Singapore has many strengths. It is a confluence of East and West, where tradition and modernity co-exist, as reflected in its rich and diverse culture and architecture. English is the lingua franca of government, business and education. It is an open and safe global city, well connected to the rest of the world, with few visa restrictions compared to most other countries. Its transport facilities are modern and efficient, and Changi Airport has consistently been voted one of the world’s best over the last quarter of a century. Singapore also has first class convention and hotel facilities, and is no stranger to hosting huge international conventions, such as the World Bank & IMF Annual Meeting in 2006.
The Singapore government is actively promoting research and development in interactive digital media and has set aside SGD 500m for this purpose over the next five years. Computer graphics and its associated applications are, of course, at the core of interactive digital media. SIGGRAPH Asia, therefore, has the full support of the Singapore government agencies responsible for furthering this agenda.
The Program Chairs
Conference Chair - YT Lee
YT Lee is an Associate Professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research interests are in the areas of CAD/CAM, computer graphics and geometric modelling. He has been a member of ACM and ACM SIGGRAPH since 1980. He is a founding member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Singapore Chapter, and has been organizing its activities since its inception in 1998. He has been a regular SIGGRAPH attendee over the last decade. He was the chair of the Graphite 2004 conference in Singapore and co-chair of Graphite 2003 and 2006 in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur respectively.
His vision for SIGGRAPH Asia: A profitable and exciting event showcasing the wealth of computer graphics talent and achievement worldwide and attracting a large number of participants from Asia and beyond.
Associate Chair - John Finnegan
John Campbell Finnegan is an Associate Professor of Computer Graphics Technology in the Purdue College of Technology at New Albany, Indiana. He received his bachelor’s degree in Theater at the University of Massachusetts and his MFA from The Ohio State University. John did post graduate work at the Advanced Center for Computer Art and Design at The Ohio State University. John is the co-principal creative at Deux Freres Designs with his brother James. John is a professional actor/director. John's Computer Graphic Fine Art has been displayed in numerous galleries across the United States and in SICAF in Seoul, Korea. His work appears in Art in the Digital Age, Edited by Bruce Wands of the Digital Salon. John has co-authored two texts, The Web Page Workbook and Web Design and Development Using XHTML. John is an active member of ACM SIGGRAPH having served on the Education Committee of the SIGGRAPH Executive Committee and as the SIGGRAPH 2003 Educator's Program Chair. John was Conference Chair for SIGGRAPH 2006 and co-Chair for dux07-the designing user experience conference.
Papers Chair – Kurt Akeley
Kurt is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, where he works in the area of computer architecture. His research interests include graphics system architecture, high-performance computing, and the design of displays that better accommodate human visual requirements.
Kurt is a named inventor on 14 patents, a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In 1995, he was the recipient of the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.
He earned a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in 2004.
Sketches and Posters Chair – Diego Gutiérrez
Diego received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Zaragoza, Spain where he now works as an Associate Professor. His current research includes computational photography, global illumination, high dynamic range imagery, and the mechanisms of human perception.
Diego has published more than 50 papers on those topics in international conferences and journals, and has been an invited speaker in several countries. He has served on multiple program committees including Eurographics, Pacific Graphics and the SIGGRAPH Sketches program. He was also Program Chair for GRAPHITE in 2006.
Courses Chair – Matt Adcock
Matt is a researcher in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia. He has conducted research in virtual reality, augmented reality, haptics and auditory interfaces.
Matt has been active in SIGGRAPH for a number of years, through from being a student volunteer to directing the SIGGRAPH English service, helping authors in their English. In 2003, Matt co-founded and co-chaired the ACM GRAPHITE Conference, the first international conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Australasia and Southeast Asia. The conference is now in its fifth year.
Matt holds a Master of Science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Art Gallery and Emerging Technologies Chair – Tomoe Moriyama
Tomoe is the Media Art Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan. She also lectures on media art at the University of Tokyo and the Waseda University in Tokyo.
Tomoe was a jury member of the Japan Media Arts Festival, the Prix Ars Electronica 2003-2005, SIGGRAPH 2005 Art Gallery and Student CG Contest. She is also a councillor of the Virtual Reality Society Japan.
Since 1989, Tomoe has organized over 30 exhibitions on media art and pre-cinema history, as well as published several books on media art.
Computer Animation Festival Chair – Jinny Choo
Jinny has been serving on the executive committee of Korean Independent Animation Filmmakers Association (KIAFA) and ASIFA KOREA since 2004. She has also contributed articles to animation magazines or newspapers.
As curator, Jinny has compiled the Korean animation specials for several international animated film festivals such as Stuttgart International Animated Film Festival, Paris-Cinema and Bradford Animation Festival.
At present, she is working for Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival (SICAF). Jinny holds Master degree in Fine Arts from Chung-Ang University in Seoul, Korea.
Educators Program Chair – Mark Chavez
Mark is an animation industry professional who has joined academia to experiment with new media technologies. His experience includes animation and art direction roles in Clone3D, Dreamworks, Filmation West and LaserMedia.
While at Rhythm and Hues, he created photorealistic visual effects for many major feature films, the most recent being the Academy Award for Special Effects nominated film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
His current research project explores the use of animation as a framework to investigate culturally relevant issues in the social climate of Singapore and Southeast Asia.
Exhibition Chair – Caleb Cheong
Caleb has been working his way up right from the bottom of the computer graphics industry for the last 12 years. His enthusiasm has not faded and his positive attitude is an inspiration to all. His experience covers a wide spectrum, including sales, finance, operations, technology, trends and art.
Currently, he runs a business sourcing and supplying 3D tools for use by animators, illustrators and CG artists. He believes he is accomplishing his mission to help as many people as he can to win in the digital media.
Caleb has been an active member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Singapore Chapter. His recent focus has been in the inter-flow between the chapters in Southeast Asia, organizing the Singapore Chapter’s visits to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta.