Chair’s Corner

Chair’s Corner – Chair’s Welcome Essay

Having come from a background of primarily low-level GPU software development, the “why” of the specific stream of requests being sent to the software I was writing never really occurred to me.  For example, I could poke registers and issue commands to make a red triangle appear at a specific location on the screen but not understand why that red triangle needed to be there right at that moment in time — fleeting milliseconds. This notion that everything is about storytelling is one tangible idea SIGGRAPH has imprinted on my thinking of what I do professionally. Sitting in a SIGGRAPH jury room with artists and other creators deliberating conference submissions crystalized this concept. I previously had glimpses into partial explanations of the “why” — e.g., because there is a red car in the scene — but that experience led me to strive for the complete “why.” What story is being told that not only places the red car in the scene, but all of the other objects too? What unfolds over time? The whole point is the story!

We are a community of storytellers. Our entire organization, its members, as well as the artists, researchers, animators, and developers who attend ACM SIGGRAPH sponsored events are storytellers. The members of the SIGGRAPH community support one another with peer expertise and resources to empower each member to tell their story. We often feel it most when we are attending one of the many wonderful ACM SIGGRAPH events, whether it is SIGGRAPH in August or one of the more specialized conferences throughout the year. We are first and foremost a community, a community that strives for inclusion … in the words of my predecessor Elizabeth Baron, “SIGGRAPH is for everyone!”

The ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee (EC) is the steward of our community. The EC has a strategic vision with three fundamental pillars — volunteerism, membership, and online events. Elizabeth Baron has covered these extensively in her last essay, and I recommend reading it. In short, we view our current and future membership, our volunteers, and our events — in-person, hybrid, and virtual — as the crucial pieces to the health and stability of our organization moving forward. That has been the EC’s position over the past year or two, and I have no plans to alter that course. My goal is to further these efforts rather than introduce new strategic initiatives. Community building around the design and digital twin spaces is a new initiative that directly supports the current strategic pillars. I encourage everyone to please check out the year round ACM SIGGRAPH programming and see what inspires you. Maybe even sign up to volunteer with one of the committees that shepherds the efforts around them.

While ACM SIGGRAPH was around for a bit before we started sponsoring events, this August  is a very special anniversary for the SIGGRAPH Conference.   We are looking very forward to the 50th SIGGRAPH Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.

SIGGRAPH Asia 2022 will be held in Daegu. This will be a great opportunity for participants to experience Korean culture. The keynote speaker is Dr. Luc Julia (CSO, Renault Group).

Thank you all for being a part of our ACM SIGGRAPH community!

Jesse Barker,  

ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee Chair

Chair’s Corner – Chair’s Farewell Essay

Thank you ACM SIGGRAPH Community!

It has been quite a ride for the ACM SIGGRAPH Community over the last year. We are back! Over the last year there has been a lot of uncertainty as we navigated back to in-person events. Throughout the year, we held many gatherings in-person, culminating in our ACM SIGGRAPH Conference in Vancouver in August, 2022. The Conference was a resounding success! 

The Conference was a success due to the hard work and dedication of the ACM SIGGRAPH Community. Led by Munkhtsetseg Nandigjav, the 2022 SIGGRAPH Conference Chair, she journeyed onward into unknown territory. She made strategic decisions that benefited us all. A big shout out to Mikki Rose, our Conference Advisory Group Chair, who shepherds multiple conferences in various stages of planning. It is due to her steady leadership and the fantastic Conference committees that we were able to prosper. 

Since the ACM SIGGRAPH community is a global nonprofit organization serving the evolution of computer graphics and interactive techniques, we are in it together. With thousands of members across the world, the researchers, artists, developers, filmmakers, scientists, and enterprise business professionals of ACM SIGGRAPH are building the future we experience every day.

ACM SIGGRAPH is of course about the annual conferences, two main gatherings each year. SIGGRAPH is also about the Professional and Student Chapters community, the Digital Arts Community, Digital Twins, and more. Our mission is to nurture, champion, and connect researchers and practitioners of Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. SIGGRAPH has had a longstanding vision,  Enabling Everyone to Tell Their Stories. This is as true now as it was five years ago when it was developed. 

SIGGRAPH is for Everyone. We serve our traditional audiences of professional movie, animation, and game makers. We serve engineers, designers, scientists, artists, and more. We serve everyone with a story to tell. That story can be of a product in development, a cinematic experience, or somewhere in between, and the mechanism by which the story is experienced, the interactive techniques, is key to delivering an impactful message. Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, that’s what we do and who we are. We enable each person to learn from the best of the best, enhanced by the fantastic sources of knowledge available throughout the SIGGRAPH community.

We are the Premier Source for Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. We have broadened how content is delivered. Both the 2020 and 2021 SIGGRAPH Conferences were fully virtual. For the 2022 Conference, the content was delivered in a hybrid approach, both in-person and through a virtual platform. In-person content enables people to experience media on traditional screens or through extended reality, or potentially with new forms of interactive sensory experiences not yet invented. The virtual platform will allow flexibility and accessibility. Together, this is a powerful platform to provide content for all.

We have broadened the avenues for contribution to the SIGGRAPH Community. Starting at the SIGGRAPH 2022 Conference, a new Conference Track of the Technical Papers program was formed. This provided a high-quality publication venue that brought the workload of publishing a graphics and interactive techniques paper in line with other top-quality conferences, while diversifying the topics SIGGRAPH publishes in computer graphics and interactive techniques. The Technical Papers now has two tracks, Journal Papers (the existing program) and Conference Papers (the new program). 

The most significant difference is that journal articles will continue to be published in ACM Transactions on Graphics (TOG) and in the ACM Digital Library, while the new Conference Papers will be published as conference papers in the form of “SIGGRAPH Conference Proceedings” solely in the ACM Digital Library. The new Conference Papers will be held to the same high standard for novelty and/or robust contribution, scientific rigor, and technical soundness as Journal Papers. Both Conference Papers and Journal Papers will be reviewed with the same rigorous technical process.

Through the multitude of choices content may be delivered in, SIGGRAPH content runs the gamut in from abstract to literal, from experiential to educational to scientific. Content may be purely digital or may be married to the physical world in a manner that enhances believability and presence. The content could be purely academic, as with Technical Papers. One thing remains, SIGGRAPH is the premier organization for disseminating new scholarly work, where scientists and researchers present and publish the latest industry advancements that inspire new ideas, ignite memorable discussions, and propel us forward.

SIGGRAPH’s Strategic Direction

The dedicated people who lead SIGGRAPH form the Executive Committee. The “EC” provides the operational structure and strategy for the coming years. It provides consistency and sets the high bar for content. The team works to allow our members to realize the benefits of research, education, and to put theory into practice for industry. They give their time and talent to enrich our SIGGRAPH community. The EC is grateful for the leadership of those who served on the Executive Committees over the past 49 years. This EC stands on the shoulders of giants!

ACM SIGGRAPH’s strategy is focused on three pillars, which lay the foundation for future growth while sustaining our quality content. These pillars focus on membership, volunteerism and online events. 

  • Continuing on the success of the virtual and hybrid conferences, ACM SIGGRAPH will build more content including events and educational subjects. Members can be engaged in ACM SIGGRAPH all year round and leverage multiple sources from our community to achieve high-quality delivery. Once structured, ACM SIGGRAPH will maintain a database of organization and community events, and enable our existing communication channels to effectively bolster more engagement from the membership and community at large.
  • Regarding membership in ACM SIGGRAPH, the value proposition for membership is being strengthened with the goal to clarify existing benefits at every level of membership. An increase in year-round activities will further enhance the value to the community, with a specific focus on bolstering the value of long-term membership for students. 
  • Volunteers are at the heart of ACM SIGGRAPH. As a strategic pillar, a newly formed Volunteer Development Committee will apply the broad enthusiasm, energy, and talent available among our volunteer community to support and enhance the goals and events of ACM SIGGRAPH. This includes volunteer onboarding and ongoing support, mentorship, and leadership development for SIGGRAPH volunteers in their roles within the organization. There will be a path to support volunteers throughout their service and career. 

These three pillars provide ACM SIGGRAPH with a solid foundation, to grow and thrive in the future. SIGGRAPH will continue to be a place to realize creativity and passion, to discover the art of the impossible. The SIGGRAPH Organization has many Standing Committees, strategy groups, advisory boards, and community groups which provide continued access to the latest CG&IT information throughout the year. 

The SIGGRAPH Organization is where content lives year-round. The “Org” keeps the momentum going the other 51 weeks of the year. The Organization advocates for and supports knowledge sharing of advancements in computer graphics, digital art, animation, visual effects, machine learning, artificial intelligence, immersive and mixed realities, scientific visualization, and more. 

And one more shout-out for the SIGGRAPH Conference…congratulations on your retirement Cindy Stark! Cindy has been a driving force behind the SIGGRAPH Conference for 41, yes 41, years! She is a dynamo and a treasure. Our SIGGRAPH Community will surely miss her. 

Thank you all for being a part of our ACM SIGGRAPH community!

Elizabeth Baron



Chair’s Corner – Practitioners: We Need You!

By Elizabeth Baron

I have had the distinct privilege in my career of being able to really think out of the box and look toward the future. I could innovate in ways that provide efficiencies by allowing intuitive, agile thought to get at solutions to complex, multidimensional problems.

SIGGRAPH was my inspiration, my foundation, my place where I could go to understand the art of the possible, or the impossible. 

Being a Practitioner, I possibly see the benefits of SIGGRAPH through a different lens than the average SIGGRAPHer. Back in 2017, a Strategy Team was formed to determine what SIGGRAPH should look like in the future. The clear mission was defined as: Enabling everyone to tell their stories.

As a Practitioner, “everyone” includes artists, designers, ergonomists, engineers of many types [electrical, mechanical, structural, materials, thermodynamics, …], roboticists, analysts, AI/ML specialists, and more. Whew! There are a lot of players in the industrial space. They each have their own goals, and perspectives. It’s not the typical cast of characters you’ll find at an ACM SIGGRAPH conference, but an interesting mix, nonetheless.

What is so fantastic about SIGGRAPH is that many of the concepts are universal in application. Our tradition of innovations in media of movies, animations and games also applies to extended realities, photorealism, real-time interactions and sensory experiences and other forms to experience data and concepts. We as a community are creating new and exciting ways to understand and communicate. Our community enables us to use intuitive insight for problem solving. SIGGRAPH enables people with unlike minds (i.e. an artist and an engineer) to communicate effectively, each telling their story to the other in a way that makes sense to the person experiencing the content. 

Problems are best solved when people can connect personally to facts and data through experience. Most people are visual thinkers and learn by doing. In industrial design and engineering, teams are collaborating in real-time in immersive environments, even though geographically the participants may be miles away. SIGGRAPH is the place where we (I) learned how to make this happen!

Think about the value of our conferences. Through our experiences have been mostly virtual recently, the conferences provide the opportunity to learn from the brightest minds in computer graphics & interactive techniques.  SIGGRAPH 2021 Conference this year. (There is still time to enjoy on-demand content – until October 29, 2021. Register here!) And get ready for SIGGRAPH Asia 2021





It is coming up in Tokyo from December 14-17.  

Practitioners of CG&IT are realizing the results of successful collaborations, where design and engineering converge. The power of holistic product creation provides a deeper understanding of an enjoyable experience. Learning both emotive and scientific perspectives simultaneously provides impactful insights into form and function of product. It leads to high throughput discovery; which allows teams to find creative solutions to problems by considering multiple data points in an intuitive manner.

A Strategy Committee called “New Communities” has done great work in bringing in new disciplines from both emerging research and application of CG&IT platforms to the SIGGRAPH Community. There is a lot of thought being given regarding the needs of industry practitioners for Design, Engineering and Manufacturing to collaborate in what is becoming a hybrid society. We would appreciate your thoughts on how to move industry forward, so that they can realize the benefits of holistic communication. Please email me at

Practitioners, please consider becoming a member of SIGGRAPH. The benefits are inspirational. The knowledge you acquire can set you on a path to become the benchmark in your industry for insight and efficiency in solving complex problems with high precision and speed. Check out the profound work in the ACM Digital Library. If you see something you like in a video, go to the DL to deep dive and really understand how to apply the concepts. 

The real power of CG&IT is that it’s holistic. It brings everyone together and everyone can understand the final product (whether it’s a product or service) that makes people’s lives better. And that’s a beautiful thing. Please consider becoming a part of the SIGGRAPH community. You can register here to become a member of ACM SIGGRAPH and join in the conversation.


Chair’s Corner: Farewell Essay

As with most goodbyes, this moment is bittersweet. I am very excited to pass the chores of being chair onto my successor and claw some time back for my own research and other endeavors. At the same time, I have been honored to serve as chair of SIGGRAPH and generally enjoyed the role; I certainly learned a lot. One of the downsides of the one-year term is that it takes a little while to settle in, or maybe that was just the pandemic throwing everything off. I do wish I had started writing these essays sooner, but c’est la vie.

SIGGRAPH has accomplished a whole awful lot over the last year. SIGGRAPH has made incremental changes over time, but the pandemic forced us to make *huge* changes very quickly. All our conferences went virtual in 2020. It was an incredible feat and all our conference organizers deserve immense kudos. We did tons of experimentation and quickly identified some best practices. Sure, we lost money. But, through luck and shrewd negotiation (major props to Ashley Cozzi and Cindy Stark) we lost a small fraction of our liability.

We also took advantage of everyone being virtual (and no travel costs) to bring more voices into our strategy meetings. We call them “strategy” meetings, but that is probably a misnomer; we do not generate 5-year plans to put on a shelf, instead, these are meetings where we discuss the long-term future of SIGGRAPH and how we should allocate and *create* resources to improve our organization. We try to identify weaknesses, opportunities, etc. So, because we did not need to pay for travel, we could invite almost everyone. The meetings were a bit unwieldy at first, but we hit our stride and they turned out to be really productive. They did not serve all the purposes of in-person meetings—there is no replacing breaking bread with another human—but they did give us directions forward.

Three major initiatives came out of the meetings. First, the establishment of an Online Events Committee. This committee proved too big a lift for our first chair and we are in search of a replacement, perhaps co-chairs given the large scope; maybe we need a committee the size of one of our major conferences. Second, was the idea of online communities organized around similar interests; not unlike chapters, but being virtual and based upon shared interests rather than geography. Third, was a better approach to membership. The topic of membership is perennial at SIGGRAPH meetings. I have been a member since my first SIGGRAPH in 2001 when I got a discount on the SIGGRAPH Video Review. I’ve probably lapsed (I still don’t always pay my electric bill on time), but I am of that older generation where you belong to your professional organization as a matter of course. I am also a member of my local NPR station and give them $6 a month, which is more than I can give SIGGRAPH.

Let me dwell on membership for a moment. I am not a member of SIGGRAPH  because of some transactional benefit; I get reduced registration from my ACM membership and can access the digital library content through my university (or, like everyone, for free through OpenTOC). I am a member of SIGGRAPH because the organization does good things. And those good things affect me in positive ways. SIGGRAPH has published and archived the majority of my publications. I have made many friends and colleagues through the organization’s efforts. SIGGRAPH has made my professional life better. These are the same reasons I volunteer for SIGGRAPH; I am always surrounded by interesting people and the work is very fulfilling.

In addition to these major initiatives, we have done other stuff too. Our standing committees have organized many virtual events over the past year; DEI, Digital Arts, and Chapters have led many of these efforts. We also created a new series, “A Conversation With…” By all reports, these conversations have been fun and low-pressure. I am certain there are more things in the works. In retrospect, I think SIGGRAPH did a pretty great job of leveraging the upsides of the pandemic and has remained vibrant and inspiring despite the challenges.

For those in the technical community, just yesterday the Executive Committee approved a proposal for “Conference Papers.” This idea has been around for years, but finally, there was momentum behind it. Mashhuda Glencross deserves a shout-out for leading the team that put together the proposal; it was an enormous amount of work. Thanks to all of you who filled out the survey. View the approved proposal.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Paul Strauss and Mashhuda Glencross for their service on the Executive Committee as their terms end tonight as well. And a major thanks to Jessica Hodgins, who has served on the EC for nine (yes, nine!) years, first as a director-at-large, then as President, and finally as past-President. I could not have asked for a wiser sage to help me along this past year.

As my final thoughts as SIGGRAPH chair, I want to say that I have gained so much more from SIGGRAPH than what I have contributed; that is the paradox of being part of something. Please become a member, please volunteer, please engage. You will probably find yourself feeling the same way.

fare thee well,


Chair’s Corner: The SIGGRAPH Budget

One of the most frequent criticisms I hear about SIGGRAPH is that the organization is opaque or, equivalently, I hear about a lack of transparency. To the extent that this critique is fair, it is not due to a desire for secrecy (there are only a handful of things that are confidential), instead, it is because of the difficulty of communicating all that an organization like SIGGRAPH is doing. We have 21 standing committees, 6 advisory groups, and 5 strategy teams; we have a complex relationship with ACM, which is also a complex organization. It took a full year on the Executive Committee (EC) to begin to understand how SIGGRAPH works and after 5 years, 1000s of hours of work, and even a year as chair, there is still plenty I do not know. There are at least a thousand, probably more like five thousand, human hours that go into every week. It would be impossible for anyone to deeply understand everything that SIGGRAPH is doing. So it is an issue of scale, not secrecy. In fact, one of the reasons I am writing these essays is to improve communication with our members.

For those with an interest in long reading, we do maintain documentation of the most significant achievements, meetings, and policies:

– SIGGRAPH files an annual report for ACM every year, and you can look all the way back to 2001 here. While I have not filed one myself yet, I am told by my predecessor that it is surprising just how much work the organization does.

– All of our official meeting minutes are kept here. These are generally pretty boring, but boring is what transparency means. Personally, I have found a few things from the minutes before my time interesting; I am not the first person to bring up a papers-only registration.

– We keep our policies and procedures updated here. We update them every few months as we strive to achieve the best governance of our organization (the governance committee meets every other week to discuss updates, which accounts for about 10 of those human hours per week). Importantly, we document the rationale for our procedures and policies, so that the next generation of leaders knows not just how we do things, but why.

But one area we are a bit opaque is the financials, again that is simply because things are complex enough that it is difficult to explain.  So, in an effort to increase transparency, I will try to explain how SIGGRAPH’s finances work.

First, we are a Special Interest Group (SIG) under the ACM umbrella, which means we inherit ACM’s not-for-profit (501(c)(3) under US tax law) status. This status is actually different from a “non-profit.” Significantly, it allows us (and ACM) to have paid staff and has less stringent financial reporting requirements; there are other differences as well.

Under ACM policies we are required to have a reserve fund, which is basically a bank account, held and managed by ACM, that has enough money should we encounter really bad times (e.g. a pandemic or global financial crisis). The reserve fund requirement is based on a percentage of expenditures and, before the pandemic, SIGGRAPH was required to keep about $4M in the bank. Going below the reserve fund is a big no-no and results in unpleasant oversight. I’ve heard horror stories of the times it has happened before (after financial crises in the early and late 2000s). So, we mandated a cushion (in the policies noted above we are required to have an extra $1M in 2018 dollars) so that it would not happen again. SIGGRAPH had been so successful over the last decade that we actually had a $3M cushion and were planning to re-invest that money in the community with initiatives like student travel grants and other things before the pandemic. I’ll keep my fingers crossed; we lost about $850K last year and are budgeted to lose $675K this year (our fiscal year starts July 1), so half our cushion will be gone by the SIGGRAPH 2022 conference.

SIGGRAPH (and all the SIGs) pay overhead (formerly called allocation) to ACM. Overhead is charged based on total expenditures, which matches most University models I know of. One wrinkle is that the overhead is on a sliding scale. SIGGRAPH pays more overhead on its first $10K than on its last $1M. This approach makes sense since our need for ACM services does not scale linearly with our spending and, in fact, ACM cannot provide many of the professional services SIGGRAPH requires so we must rely on contracts for professional services (e.g. Conference Management and Administration).

Conferences create their own budgets. Whether it is SIGGRAPH or HPG, the conference leadership comes up with registration fees and determines how to spend that revenue. They do include ACM’s overhead charge in their budgets, albeit at different percentages. The SIGGRAPH conference’s budget must be approved by the Executive Committee, but the conference chair puts together the budget with input from the Conference Advisory Group (CAG), which contains several members from the EC, and members from the conference management team. The SIGGRAPH conference budget before the pandemic was about $7M (about $8.5M for SIGGRAPH 2019) and dwarfs everything else SIGGRAPH does. The year before the pandemic (July 2019 – June 2020) our total expenses for the entire SIGGRAPH organization were $9.8M, the year before that it was closer to $8M. SIGGRAPH Asia is handled quite differently and is more analogous to a licensing agreement, SIGGRAPH has no financial liability and receives a set fee plus a percentage of the expenses over a threshold; the EC does not approve or have access to a detailed SIGGRAPH Asia budget.

Okay, now that your eyes have glazed over or you have fallen asleep, what does SIGGRAPH’s budget actually look like? I will answer that in two parts: before the pandemic and after.

Long ago, I am told, the organization budget was entirely supported by conference returns. There was no digital library, and we actually lost money on membership (because we printed and shipped magazines). But, in recent years, the organization revenue was roughly 1/3 membership dues, 1/3 digital library revenue, and 1/3 conference returns; the budget was in the $1M—1.5M range, with roughly $500K of that going to ACM in overhead. See here for a bit more detail, but note this data does not provide a complete picture; we were operating at a surplus before the pandemic because our conferences were more successful than expected. Aside from ACM overhead, we mostly spent money on travel costs, professional support, and initiatives at our major conferences. Most of the travel costs were for people to attend conferences, either to work as a volunteer or as volunteer recognition for work over the course of the year. While I have had a few manhattan’s on SIGGRAPH’s tab, I have not seen any malfeasance and I doubt it occurs.

Over the last year, of course, our travel costs have gone to zero. Our main costs are for zoom lines and administrative support. At the same time though, we are generating very little revenue. Membership is down and our major conferences are losing money, only the digital library is mostly holding steady. We still have a cushion on the reserve fund balance, but a very bad SIGGRAPH 2022 could knock us below.

In terms of the conference, the vast majority of the registration and exhibitor revenue goes into putting on the conference. The conference is supposed to make a prescribed transfer to the reserve fund and budget for the ACM overhead, both to support the organization and protect against future losses, but it is not supposed to make money (we are a not-for-profit after all). However, putting on a highly professional conference is an expensive endeavor. We rent very high-end A/V equipment and we try to find nice venues for our reception and sometimes our premier events like the Electronic Theater are off-site. We also contract for professional staff to ensure everything goes smoothly. Next time you pick up your reviewer mug, look around at all the people working long days to make sure things run smoothly. Or the next time you give a talk think about the fact that there is at least one A/V expert in the room should something go wrong. All these expenses add up, which is really the answer to the question I often get, “why is SIGGRAPH so expensive?”

In recent years, SIGGRAPH revenue routinely exceeded the expenses and the reserve fund grew too large, $2M above our policy. So, we started to reinvest this money in the organization and conference to create new programs and initiatives, like the Frontiers Talks and Workshops, the Doctoral Consortium, the Diversity and Inclusion Summit, and the Production Gallery (including that wonderful Syd Mead exhibit in 2018). We also support various CRA and ACM initiatives like the CRA-W grad cohort workshop. We had set up a student travel grant program to kickoff for SIGGRAPH 2020. But, travel grants don’t make sense in a pandemic.

In the last two years, we have lost a lot of money, roughly $1.5M by the time our budget cycle ends in June 2022. Unlike a lot of our specialized conferences and our friends with less complex conferences, SIGGRAPH has multi-year contracts for (and reliance on) management and administration professionals to create a professional, polished experience. The planning for the SIGGRAPH conference begins several years in advance; the CAG will be interviewing candidates for the 2024 conference chair this fall, in a normal year, the city would already have been chosen. The SIGGRAPH ship cannot turn on a dime. We can eliminate travel (that is easy in a pandemic), but we still need help to organize the hundreds of overlapping sessions that have very different needs. The fact that our contractors remain hidden in the background is a testament to their professionalism, but I assure you, especially for these virtual events, there has been an enormous amount of work going on behind the scenes.

We hope that next year will be better and we are looking for new ways to generate revenue, including tiered membership. (It turns out that not-for-profits cannot make money selling t-shirts, but we can have a $150 membership that includes a t-shirt—the beauties of tax law.) I will take this opportunity to ask you to become a SIGGRAPH member. SIGGRAPH is, at its heart, a membership organization. Please join us and help support all that we do. And volunteer too!

I hope you enjoy this year’s virtual conference and I look forward to seeing you in person or virtually for a hybrid conference in Vancouver.