Writer's Blog: A week in the life of SIGGRAPH

i got into san diego today... after a brief bout with traffic and a quick dismissal of thoughts that i'd rather be back home in AK, i settled into my digs at the handlery hotel. this being my first SIGGRAPH, i really REALLY didn’t know what to expect... whether i'd be an outsider looking in, or as a member of the graphics world with something to say... i'd just have to wait and find out. i met up with my roommate, as so many other student volunteers do, met the rest of our reporter team and in the evening we all headed downtown to the massively magnificent san diego convention center to get our registration taken care of. even though the conference didn't begin until sunday, i knew i was going to be in for a treat. the walls were decorated with dozens of pieces of art from the denizens of diego bound computer elite. the building itself even, a marvel of architecture blending the old with the new - a fresh and clean notre dame for the new millennium. yeah, that’s it. so much to do, so much to say. tomorrow, tomorrow.

day 1. sunday. july 27th.
we took our shuttle to the convention center at 8:30. it was so weird for me to be up before... ohhh, lets say, NOON, that the surreality of the convention really didn’t sink in until lunch, when thousands of the computer and technologically obsessed, poured out onto the streets of downtown san diego in search of food. sustenance, it appeared, was primarily obtained within the gaslamp district... an amalgam of old and new buildings (seemingly a purveying theme for san diego). historic markers housing old world italian restaurants lay cattycorner to modern steak bistros that housed cigar toting tourists. i attended my first conference course today and learned that i need to learn much more to be competitive in the computer games market. go figure. so many people, so much to do, so much to see. tomorrow.... tomorrow

day 2. monday. july 28th.
the alias wavefront* party last night was amazing... tech-heads and artists swarmed 4th and B. a venue that, like its namesake, lies on the corner of 4th and B, just a stones throw from the convention center... well, a really really really far stones throw, but definitely within walking distance. huge projectors wowed the audience with explanations of how the matrix fight scenes were created to how the next generation of cloth and paint effects were going to be implemented (hopefully) in the next version of MAYA. aside from the people in the back who were reminded at odd intervals to shut the f*** up, the demos were great, the speakers - fun, and the company always entertaining. as i was putting together my second shredded pork sandwich of the day (i had eaten at dicks earlier that afternoon) i shared some time with bob bennett, an alias employee who had spent some time in alaska as a youth. it was fun to meet some new faces and put mine out there as well. hopefully the more outgoing i am, the more coverage my name gets... we'll see.

day 3. tuesday. july 29th.
exhibition floor opens. computer-geeks flood floor.

the chapters party really took it out of me last night... i woke up this morning and my throat felt like i'd swallowed somewhat damaged and worn ball bearings, and later brought them back up to feed my young, but i was excited none the less because today, today was the opening of the exhibit floor and we as media-types, were able to sneak in an hour early to get a first hand look at what marvels lay inside. mega-booths from intel, two sections for nvidia and literally hundreds of others filled the san diego convention center floor. demonstrations ranging from art classes to 3d rapid prototyping were commonplace and everyone working is ready to give you their all.

at 10am the doors opened for everyone else, and i had sneakily signed up for nvidia's sketch competition. 10 people go in, one comes out with a quadro video card. wow. repeat every 30 minutes. what a deal.

i lost.

next i headed over to THE GNOMON WORKSHOP to thank Alex Alvarez in person for doing what he does best... well i'm sure he does a lot of things best, but specifically for being a great teacher. He's the MAYA ninja who helps run The Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood California - long story short, i learned a lot through their resources... (available for purchase on their website).

So after pacing through scads of hordes of crowded causeways, reacting reclusively to reaching regional salesfolk, amassing much material giveaways and of course smiling at the models at any chance i got, it was time for lunch. lets just say this... SIG-ees in San Diego are in no short supply of satiatory sustenance or quality thirst-quenching quaffage - thankfully located right outside the conference center. A few blocks walk will run you past multitudes of amazing restaurants from surf, to turf, fish tacos to tuscan delights thus far i have been amazed by the quality of food and service... damn. i'm stuffed.

this afternoon i'm going around to various computer gaming companies and various employees of the industry in search of the ever-repetitious often leaving you empty-handed feeling answers to the undying ever burning question to many a recent CG graduate: "How in the hell do i get a job in computer games?!". I myself am currently wondering the same question and am only able to bank on one thought: If you don't get a job in the gaming industry, you've wasted a good two-thirds of your life... so get a frickin job already. feel free, no, go now and check out my article on getting the game job of your life... or for your life, i haven't worked out the title bugs yet.

day 4. wednesday. july 30th.

One more day to go.

And i miss the bus. s***.

10:42 a.m. - second to last day, and i'm in bed with a cold and a wicked-awful sore throat. i'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the late nights partying and yelling in clubs. clubs with a lot of people in them. by a lot, i'm not talking about how many dot com's i used to work at, how much money microsoft rakes in, or even how many non-uniform-rational-bezier-spline patches make up a hollywood quality CG model, no no no. i'm talking crowded clubs with like 1000 people in them, dancing models atop pedestals skirting massive dance floors churning with throbbing throngs of computer elite. rooms upon rooms that lead to rooms upon rooms with bar after bar - the faces tend to blur until no matter how hard i yell it doesn't seem to make a difference... the primal pounding of tribal beats, the drawn out traces of faces i used to know - i reach up to swim but the surface is still so far away... ahhh... mommy!!!!

(catches breath).

ahem. anyway, for a kid from Alaska i think i took it all in pretty well, perhaps a little too well. give me an inch and i'll take a mile. bit i digress.

so to reiterate - i woke up late, sick and lazy... and now either have to suck up a $18 cab fare, or wait until 12:45 for the shuttle to start service again. note to anyone listening.... DONT MISS THE BUS.

12:24 p.m. - lunch was good. the Handlery hotel does well for itself. the name reminds me of how bellmen treat luggage, "I dare say the "handlery" of my bags was appalling!!!"


hmm... it seems funny for me to think that today was just another day like yesterday and that all the cool gadgetry and computer goings-on had been starting to blend together and repeat each other. funny because thats the most ridiculous idea i've ever heard!!! today i checked out the guerilla studio, saw all of my friends from BLUI (rm. 10)... its similar to the body-paint exhibition that was being shown in the back of emerging technologies but its cooler (in my mind) because its put on by the university of alaska fairbanks. home sweet home.

i also had a really fun time talking to patrick from ea, but you can read all about that here. tomorrow i'm going to grab a picture of peter braccio and post my interview with him.

good times, good times.

day 5. thursday. jul-iz-y 31th.

today's the final day of SIGGRAPH. and i dont know what to think. i had a good time last night.woke early this morning... too many things to do, too many tings to see. places to eat and people to go... i mean - people to do and eats to place.... damn.

its the 31th because that makes me smile a little bit inside. but i'm sad because today is the last day of july.

i'm sad just because i didnt meet more people,

i'm glad just because the others treat you as equals,

no more sketch contest, no more krispy kreme...

no more free goodies, no more mezzanine,

parties were fun, free drinks - hell, free beer,

i'll miss you this much...

until i see you next year.

Bye and thanks SIGGRAPH.

-Geordie Swainbank




related links

other siggraph blogs


  * editor's note: Alias|Wavefront has changed its name to Alias to celebrate its 20th Anniversary (correction thanks to Yusheng Li).  


This site is maintained by ACM SIGGRAPH Reports.
Last updated 8/5/03.

The ACM SIGGRAPH Reporter program is sponsored by ACM SIGGRAPH.
Photos courtesy of Cybershot digital cameras generously loaned by SONY.