President’s Corner

President’s Corner- What did you tell us via the virtual conference survey?

A Message from ACM SIGGRAPH President Jessica Hodgins

About a month ago we sent out a survey asking for your thoughts about what the virtual SIGGRAPH 2020 should look like.    We sent the survey to the SIGGRAPH 2020 accepted contributors,  ACM SIGGRAPH members, and attendees of SIGGRAPH 2019 who had given us permission to contact them after the conference.    Over one thousand of you responded with your thoughts about the virtual SIGGRAPH 2020.    We are very grateful that you took the time to send us your ideas and opinions.   Your passion for SIGGRAPH came through in your thoughtful responses and over fifty pages of free-form answers.   We were honored and awed by that expression of support for SIGGRAPH.   Many of us on the EC and the conference team have looked at the data and a few of us have read all the comments and summarized them for the others.

Here is a summary of what we learned from the survey.   We are also posting the quantitative results of the survey here and the free-form answers here (scrubbed for names and email addresses but otherwise unfiltered).

Beyond the podium-based programs that convert relatively easily to virtual, you suggested that we should focus on taking E-Tech, BOFs, Art Gallery and Posters virtual.   All of those programs (as well as others) will be represented in the virtual SIGGRAPH 2020 thanks to the hard work of the Conference Chair, Kristy Pron, and her team of program chairs.

Even though we know that the “meet in the hallway and chat” form of networking won’t be as natural at the virtual SIGGRAPH as it is at an in-person conference, there was strong support for networking activities with topic-based breakouts and the ability to search and connect with other attendees emerging as the top choices.   Mentoring also came up repeatedly as something that could be made to work at a virtual conference.  Mentoring could be one-on-one via matches based on interests or career path or in small groups for AMA (ask me anything) sessions.   Networking opportunities like those might even be better for participants new to the field than what happens in the packed days of an in-person SIGGRAPH.   We are still figuring out how best to facilitate networking at the virtual conference but we know that it is important to our community.   One advantage to being virtual is that we can have many more BOF sessions so feel free to send in your ideas to that program and set up a meetup on the topic(s) that you are most passionate about.

There was also support for taking more of the content produced by our community to year-round presentations now that we won’t all be converging on one location for five days.   Respondents requested both courses on new and emerging areas and on fundamentals that would be offered year round.   We are producing a series of lectures on Machine Learning  now and we have recently run some panels and talks about how to manage working from home.  The most recent of those, by Paul Debevec, is available here.  We also plan to run part of the Frontiers program with its focus on new areas adjacent to traditional SIGGRAPH topics before and after the conference.

Some of the survey questions asked directly about how we should run the virtual conference.    Respondents were flexible on the start date although they wanted us to avoid the week of GDC.  We were pleased to see that as we needed a bit of extra time for planning the virtual conference and pulling together all the material from our hundreds of contributors.   As was just announced on the conference will be held from August 24-28th with on-demand content available beginning on August 17th.

Most people were also willing to pay for the virtual SIGGRAPH.   We were glad to see that because the registration fees will allow us to cover the costs of the virtual SIGGRAPH and recoup some of the hefty losses from the cancellation charges for the in-person conference.   Although by being fiscally conservative over the last decade of successful conferences, we had built up a cushion over ACM’s required bank balance, reducing our losses for 2020 will allow us to more quickly ramp back up our activities in support of the community.    

The registration fees for the conference have been announced  and registration will open in not too long.   We kept the rate for students and the unemployed low to allow people who normally could not travel to an in-person conference to be able to attend and learn from the content.   We added a supporter rate so that those who have the ability can give back to the conference and the organization.

The top choice for presentation format for podium presentations was pre-recorded with live Q&A (an inverted or flipped format) and we are adopting this for most of the relevant programs.   This option was most strongly preferred by contributors which was good since they are the ones who will have to put in the extra work to create compelling presentations.

Not surprisingly given the current economic climate, the job fair came up a number of times as being important.   SIGGRAPH 2020 will be offering attendees the ability to be a part of the virtual Job Fair and view job listings posted by SIGGRAPH Exhibitors throughout the year. We also plan to provide access to videos and other materials that will help with resume writing, provide ideas and tips for interviewing and more.

As is always the case with a survey like this, we realized after the fact that there were important questions that we failed to ask.    We should have had more questions about time zones and how best to cope with them given that not everyone would be physically in the same time zone this year.    But both participants and contributors gave us their opinions on this issue in the answers to the free-form questions.   We are adopting the suggestions of much shorter days and making much of content available on demand in advance of the “live” part of the conference.   This schedule should also allow us to have somewhat fewer parallel sessions than usual which a number of people suggested could be an upside of a virtual conference.    The content will continue to be available via your registration credentials for a few months after the conference and then freely available from the organization web site via ACM’s Open TOC program after it has been transferred to the ACM Digital Library.

In closing, I would like to thank you again for the passion that you showed for SIGGRAPH in your thoughtful responses to our survey.   It informed our thinking about a number of key decisions as we put together the first ever virtual SIGGRAPH.

All of the content has been selected for SIGGRAPH 2020 now and the trailers that are starting to drop showcase just how amazing the content is.  We still have time to implement more events in support of networking/mentoring and we plan to have additional curated events both before and after the conference so if you have suggestions or if you would like to help out, please send me an email at

Jessica Hodgins

President’s Corner – We stand with you.

A Message from ACM SIGGRAPH President Jessica Hodgins

Dear ACM SIGGRAPH community,

We are all struggling to understand and respond to the underlying issues surrounding yet another murder of an unarmed black man in the United States. I would like to offer support to members of our ACM SIGGRAPH family and acknowledge the pain and injustice faced by the African American community on a daily basis.

Over the past few years and with the support of ACM, ACM SIGGRAPH has taken a number of actions in an attempt to create a community that ensures the importance of the fair, equitable, and respectful treatment of all our ACM SIGGRAPH members across the world. We established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and SIGGRAPH CARES to make it very clear that hate, prejudice, and discrimination whether in their overt or their subtle forms are not acceptable in our organization. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee will be providing resources on their web page to serve as a reference destination.  They are also hosting webinars to support and celebrate the accomplishments of all members of our community. Please send your suggestions to to help them (and all of us) work toward an inclusive culture where all feel their voices are heard and respected.

I hesitated to write this blog post because it felt like these actions in support of diversity and inclusion, while critically important, were exactly the same actions that every other SIG and every other scientific, engineering, and artistic organization were taking.   And that these actions did not in any way address the core issues of racialized violence and inequities.   But as I have reflected on the many conversations that are occurring right now, I realized that our  community of computer graphics professionals has a critically important role in the global conversation about these issues.  Our technology is enabling visual stories to be told and those stories are a powerful way for people to understand and disseminate human experience.  With immersive experiences, participants can interact and viscerally deepen their understanding of the life experiences of groups of which they are not a part.   A few years ago, we revised the vision for the ACM SIGGRAPH to be “Enabling Everyone to Tell Their Stories.”   I don’t want to claim any particular foresight there, but I do strongly believe that enabling those impacted by racism and injustice to tell their stories visually is a powerful force for awareness and change.     The democratization of computer graphics that has occurred over the past decade through the efforts of many in the broader SIGGRAPH community will aid in that change.   

Below are a few of the animations and interactive experiences that support this idea.  Some were created by members of our SIGGRAPH community and most were not.   But all of them were made possible by technology developed by members of our broader community of professionals in computer graphics and interactive techniques.  Not all of them are comfortable to watch, but that is appropriate for such a difficult topic.

A Simple Question: Do Black Lives Matter? by Kinetic Affect and The Studio NYC

Hair Love  by Matthew A. Cherry

Purl from Pixar

Zero directed by Christopher Kezelo

The Breadwinner (trailer) by Nora Twomey

Traveling while Black

1000 Cut Journey

Use of Force by the Emblematic Group

Look Beyond the Cartoon Dogs, Racism is Real. by Jib Kodi

Kitbull from Pixar

Swing of Change by ESMA

Sad Shortfilm about Racism

Ian by Mundoloco CGI Ian Foundation | TheCGBros

The work of Jacolby Satterwhite

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life

Aphton Corbin’s student work at CalArts

Colette Gaiter: Monkey Girl Meets Alligator Boy

Philip Mallory Jones: IN THE SWEET BYE & BYE SL (a Second Life installation)

SPACE|R A C E by Colette Gaiter

The conversations that will result from this surfacing of the racism that lies beneath our society will not be easy and I am certain that this will be a twisting and tortuous path and that we will make missteps along the way.  But I remain optimistic that today’s thinkers, writers, animators, and activists will effect long lasting change that will put us in a better and more equitable place.   If you see actions big or small that ACM SIGGRAPH should take please contact me at

Jessica Hodgins

President’s Corner- What Does it Take to Put on a Virtual Conference?

President’s Corner- What Does it Take to Put on a Virtual Conference?

A Message from ACM SIGGRAPH President Jessica Hodgins

Dear ACM SIGGRAPH community,

As the organizers who scrambled to put on the first conferences that went virtual this spring have emphatically said, a virtual conference is just as big an undertaking as an in-person conference. Even though our SIGGRAPH leadership team has decades of experience planning in-person conferences, we start the process more than 18 months in advance with volunteer committee meetings, the building of a graphic identity, and by signing contracts with vendors who provide administration, marketing, exhibit floor sales, AV, decoration, and food.

So, when our convention center in D.C. was designated a future alternate care site on 30 April, we immediately began looking for a platform that could support a conference with the diversity of programming found each year at SIGGRAPH. The experience of SIGGRAPH is far more than just a set of presentations and includes hundreds of hours of content in a wide variety of different formats, and putting on a virtual conference is not merely setting up a set of prerecorded talks with moderated Q&A sessions.

As we work to figure out what the first virtual SIGGRAPH will look like and how to best present the amazing content that has been accepted to SIGGRAPH 2020, we are also treating this as an opportunity for positive change that only comes around once every few generations. With the virtual SIGGRAPH 2020, we can help define what the conferences of the future should look like. This year, we’ll experiment a bit and, over time, be able to refine with new content and experiences as we learn what works and share what we have learned. Some in-person experiences, like bumping into your best friend from grad school or physically engaging with Emerging Technologies demos that rely on haptics, won’t be fully realizable digitally. But we expect that some things will be even better, with more attention devoted to content with fewer parallel sessions and new forms of online networking, interaction, and mentoring. 

As we began this process, the SIGGRAPH Conference Advisory Group and the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee quickly decided we did not want to just broadcast a set of prerecorded material, and instead to work toward including the interactions that keep us coming back to SIGGRAPH year after year. We surveyed our contributors, members, and SIGGRAPH 2019 participants to begin building a picture of what a virtual SIGGRAPH should look like. We received over a 1,000 responses to the survey, and many of you gave us voluminous, incredibly useful, and heartwarming comments.

We have demoed eight platforms, all of which go well beyond the basic functionality of webinars or teleconferencing, and have focused in on a few that we are currently vetting more closely. We hope to sign a contract soon, and will likely be shifting the conference timing slightly to mid- or late-August. The extra time will allow us to build out the platform properly. You can expect, too, that the conference will span a slightly longer period of time to compensate for everyone in our community’s additional daily responsibilities as we continue to work from home. We will also have some of the material available in advance to better accommodate time zones globally. We plan to have a virtual Exhibition that will allow you to visit many of the familiar faces you’ve come to expect in-person alongside a number of new companies.

Many details are yet to be hammered out, of course, so while you wait for more to be announced, I thought you might enjoy watching my favorite movie of the year — the SIGGRAPH 2020 Technical Papers trailer:

Jessica Hodgins

President’s Corner- Paper Deadline Survey

President’s Corner- Paper Deadline Survey

A Message from ACM SIGGRAPH President Jessica Hodgins

Dear ACM SIGGRAPH community,

Last fall, we asked recent authors and reviewers from the Technical Papers Program to participate in a survey about the timing of the Technical Papers deadline for the summer conference.   I am writing to, somewhat belatedly, share the results of that survey with you.   To cut to the chase: the results were inconclusive and as a consequence we decided not to move the deadline.

The survey was designed to determine whether a significantly earlier deadline (mid-December) or a slightly later deadline (early/mid-February) would be preferred to our current deadline of roughly the 3rd week in January.   This topic has been discussed for a long time within the community so we were hoping that this survey would resolve the question for at least the next few years.

The current deadline has challenges as researchers and students often find themselves sacrificing family/vacation time in December to complete their submissions. If the deadline moved back to mid-December, there are concerns about how it might impact SIGGRAPH Asia attendance, and as we learned from the survey, also concerns with the proximity to other conference deadlines – CVPR, in particular. If the deadline were to move further into spring, it will bump into the Chinese or Lunar New Year  spring festivities at least in some years.   The resulting delay for SIGGRAPH decisions might impact the specialized conferences that time their submission deadline to be after the SIGGRAPH notifications are sent out.

This issue has been discussed multiple times in the past, and a survey was completed in 2012 on the same topic. In 2019, I asked Peter-Pike Sloan in his role as a director-at-large on the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee (EC) to form an ad hoc committee to look into the question.   The committee included upcoming Technical Papers chairs and representatives from the Papers Advisory Group (PAG), the EC, SIGGRAPH Asia, and others in the Technical Papers community. The members were Marc Alexa, Ken Anjyo, Kavita Bala, Tomasz Bednarz, George Drettakis, Hui Huang, Karen Liu, Sylvain Paris, Peter-Pike Sloan, Kun Zhou.   After some discussion, they decided to focus the survey on whether to move the deadline for submissions to before the winter holidays or push the due date to February.

The survey was sent to submitters and reviewers of the Technical Papers Program from the past couple of years (4000 people).   We received over 800 responses for a 20% response rate, indicating that topic is one that the Technical Papers community is passionate about. The results were decidedly mixed with strong opinions in both directions.   After discussion, the committee decided to keep the deadline roughly where it is but try and make it as late as possible while not overlapping with Lunar New Year festivities.

Here is the response to moving the deadline to February:

And for moving to December:

While significant support for both of the potential moves existed in some of the regions, there was always significant opposition as well. Asia/Oceania respondents were generally opposed to any move, particularly into February, and the other regions seemed to have slightly more support for December, but still a significant amount of opposition.

We also asked questions intended to help us understand the impact on attendance at SIGGRAPH Asia of moving the deadline to December.   Of the respondents who plan to attend, 31% would not have attended if the deadline was within a month of the conference while those who have never attended SIGGRAPH Asia preferred to move the deadline to December.

If you are curious to dig deeper into the data, we have posted the data from the survey here: survey results and excel spreadsheet.

We were hoping for a clear majority in these results to guide our decision making.   Given that we did not get that, the committee decided that maintaining the status quo and keeping the deadline unchanged was the best option.   We do have a new ad hoc committee of future Technical Papers chairs for both SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia looking at ways that we might be able to make small changes to the review process to reduce the reviewer load and to provide a faster publication path for papers that have interesting and significant contributions but are rejected from SIGGRAPH or SIGGRAPH Asia the first time that they are submitted.    We will be back in touch as that proposal gets firmed up.

Jessica Hodgins

COVID19 Communication

Dear ACM SIGGRAPH community,

Like many industries, our field of computer graphics and interactive techniques is experiencing significant challenges amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. It has forced all of us to make abrupt changes to our daily routines: learning to work remotely, adapting to teaching online, or finding ways to fill our days while furloughed or unemployed. For many, there is also the added worry of managing kids who are now out of school or caring for elderly relatives. For all of us, including me, the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic has made it impossible to continue “normal” operations, and at the same time, it has underlined the importance of focusing on what we can do to help support our global community while staying home to flatten the curve.

All of this change is a lot to manage, and I am writing to assure you that we in the computer graphics community are all in this together. Please know that the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee is working closely with both ACM and conference leadership to determine how COVID-19 will impact our key programming, including the upcoming SIGGRAPH 2020 conference that is scheduled for 19–23 July in Washington, D.C.

As I write this today, SIGGRAPH 2020 remains on the calendar; however, we are closely monitoring the situation in order to proceed with an event that supports our community, showcases the amazing work of the past year, and also ensures the health and well-being of our global community. We are not blind to how quickly this pandemic has altered the ways in which major conferences and events have been and continue to be held, and we will make decisions based on the best interests of our members, contributors, and participants. We will update you along the way as thinking evolves and as decisions are made, whether that means maintaining current plans or shifting to a different format. Regardless of where the final experience lands, we are committed to showcasing the amazing talent of our global community this year as we have for the past 47 years.

Our priority is to ensure that the content accepted to SIGGRAPH 2020 is shared with the world. We all look forward to the content that comes out of our conferences each year. While this year is unique, we do not plan to veer from our mission of celebrating and exchanging fresh ideas and innovation across all areas of computer graphics and interactive techniques. The same goes for SIGGRAPH Asia 2020, scheduled for 17–20 November, so please keep your submissions coming. As always, content from both conferences will be shared and preserved in the ACM Digital Library.

ACM SIGGRAPH is also in the process of finding ways to offer online programming and resources that might be helpful or informative to our community. ACM has opened access to the Digital Library through 30 June, for those who have the time and energy to seek out education and research. We’re hoping to reprise recent conference courses with an added interactive component, and members of our Diversity and Inclusion Committee are planning a series of events centered around topics of relevance. We will share more information about these efforts in the coming weeks. Further, S3, our committee focused on student members and emerging professionals, is planning to open additional slots for mentorship and resume/reel reviews online thanks to the support of seasoned volunteers with time to spare. Details on these plans will be available on the S3 website.

We know that some of you have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, both personally and professionally, and we are here to help in any way we can. We’ve set up a page of resources here and welcome any ideas that you may have to add to this list. Feel free to email me at if you have suggestions as to other ways we might support the community.

Like many of you, I’ve had some quiet moments to reflect while at home. In that time, I’ve thought about the significant impact that being a part of SIGGRAPH has had on me and on my career. Most importantly, I think of our mission: to nurture, champion, and connect researchers and practitioners of computer graphics and interactive techniques. This is an unthinkable time, but let’s remain connected and continue to support each other.

Jessica Hodgins