So Many Ways To Go To SIGGRAPH

Going to SIGGRAPH 2004?

Okay, so you know you're going to go to SIGGRAPH 2004 in Los Angeles. However, now you must make a big decision. Do you go as an attendee, student volunteer, student reporter, student volunteer leader, or do you go for an upper staff position? Well, you’re in luck because while at the 2003 SIGGRAPH in San Diego, I was able to interview people from these different volunteer positions to get the inside scoop on what it's like.

Participant: A Fun Time With A Few Lessons

For the participant's point of view I have an account from John Macfarlane. John is a computer animator and recent graduate from Orlando, Florida.

“This was my first SIGGRAPH, and not having been to one before I have been doing my best to feel my way around. Overall I have enjoyed my first experience here and I would recommend that others who are interested in this field attend. Not only is the action here, but there's a lot more going on around town with parties and company get-togethers which are great networking opportunities. I have met a lot of cool people on this trip and I hope to stay in contact with them between now and next SIGGRAPH. My only gripe is that I purchased the Conference Select Pass, when I believe the Exhibits Plus pass would have been sufficient. Maybe I overlooked some of the activities available to me, but it seems like there were very few advantages to justify the $190 price difference ($140 if you factor in the $50 Electronic Theater ticket included with the Conference Select pass.) I know of some classes being held on Thursday which Conference Select members can attend, but due to the airlines and money restrictions I have to depart early that day. I would have preferred these had been held earlier in the convention. It has been a long and expensive journey, but I got my money's worth. I look forward to next year.”

Participant: A Game Designer’s View

I have another participant’s point of view from Nick Dorrough. Nick is game designer and also a recent graduate from Orlando, Florida.

“Being a game programmer, I am fairly unaware of some of the problems artists encounter when building assets for games and movies. This was a great experience because I overlooked new technologies, artists helping artists, and I even learned a couple things myself. I would recommend that programmers come to SIGGRAPH at least once to get a feel of what your art team has to go through to get you your models.”

Participant: Short But Sweet

I have one last participant’s point of view from Kristin Griffin. Kristin is a computer animator and yet another recent graduate from Orlando, Florida.

“I came, I saw, I got a free poster from Pixar. What more could a girl ask for?”

Student Volunteer; The CEO?

For the student volunteer’s point of view I was able to interview Mark Mikulec. Mark is both a student at Brock University in St. Catherine’s Ontario, Canada as well as CEO / \ Senior Programmer at Iron Fusion, Inc. I asked him to tell me a little bit about his company before he told me about his experience. His company has around twelve employees. It was formed unofficially about 5 years ago when he got a bunch of his friends together to work on a game. In the process of making their game they found that they had created a really good game engine called Daedalus. So they decided to put the game on hold and pursue the engine full force.

His Experience

We then continued with his account of the student volunteer program. He says first of all he would defiantly recommend this program to a friend. This is because he feels it is a fantastic way to get to the conference if you are not looking to spend a lot of money. In exchange for seventeen and a half hours or thirty hours of volunteer work you can receive a pass to SIGGRAPH. You may also be able to qualify for free housing and travel grants. Needless to say it’s a lot cheaper and a huge opportunity. This is actually Mark’s second time as a student volunteer. I asked him why he did not return this year as a student leader instead of a volunteer. He said that he would of liked to and regrets not going the route of a student leader. However, he did not want the added responsibility that would be associated with the position. He finished up by saying that this would be the way to go for anyone interested in computer graphics at any level and whom does not mind a little bit of volunteer work in exchange for a lower cost to attend.

Student Reporter: The Mooing Of A Cow

For the student reporter’s point of view I have my own account that I will include. I am also a computer animator and recent graduate from Orlando, Florida. I was supposed to be student volunteer, however due to a last minute change I was switched to a student reporter. A student reporter has one really nice perk. Media / press pass. This nifty perk lets you pretty much go anywhere and do anything at SIGGRAPH. The trade off is that you will be working your tail off by using your pass to the fullest. A typical reporter’s day will include getting up early in the morning. Somewhere along the way to the conference you get some breakfast. Then you get to the conference with the first attendees and volunteers in order to catch as many courses, lectures, and exhibits. Next, in the evening everyone starts leaving the conference center and begin making their way to all the wild parties and receptions. Well, you’re not going to be left behind. You’ll be attending as many parties as possible in order to let others know what they missed when they decided to go back to their hotels to soak in the hot tub. So now you’ve come, you’ve partied, and finally time to sleep? Not quite yet. You still will need to start rough drafts on any of the many days’ events that you will be reporting on. That way before SIGGRAPH is even over, the website will be up and going. This means that people will be able to access the web page while still at the conference! I’m not going to lie to anyone. Volunteering at SIGGRAPH as a student reporter is one of the most challenging positions at SIGGRAPH short of an upper staff position. But it’s more then worth the work for all the fun and connections you will make. I also would recommend this position to those that enjoy journalism, are outgoing, and love computer graphics.

Upper Volunteer Staff Position: Fearless Leader

For the upper staff position’s point of view I was able to interview Jim Kilmer. Jim is the 2003 Student Volunteer Chair as well as a company manager of system development for the OPAL Group.

Jim Kilmer

-photo by Cow Lauterbach

“The Student Volunteers (SV) Program is both the largest and the most widespread annual program at the SIGGRAPH Conference. Our volunteers staff every program within the Conference and provide support to many of the Administrative offices and behind-the-scenes groups. As such, it is absolutely vital that the volunteers we select represent the best and finest that the SIGGRAPH community can offer. They are the face we offer to the world, and the red and blue vests have become synonymous for attendees with help and guidance in a sometimes overwhelming Conference.

I am proud to say that SIGGRAPH 2003's team of Student Volunteers are the most professional and outgoing group of students I have had the privilege to work with in my eight-year history with the SIGGRAPH Conference. These volunteers have given a substantial portion of their week over to serving the Conference and its attendees, and I commend them for their service.

As the SIGGRAPH Conference continues to change, its students represent its single greatest asset and talent pool for the future. As much as they serve the Conference each year, the SV Program strives to provide services to them as well. We run mentoring sessions where students can interact in small groups with the pioneers of SIGGRAPH industries. We try to organize students-only programs and presentations to enhance the Conference week. We hope to use our resources to help advance our students' future careers by organizing demo reel and portfolio reviews, Q&As with industry leaders, and other similar programs.

The students in the Student Volunteers Program go on to be future Contributors, committee members, program Chairs and representatives within the ACM SIGGRAPH organization. Each Conference puts a red vest on tomorrow's Art Gallery Contributor, tomorrow's Emerging Technologies Chair, and the future President of a Professionals Chapter.

My job gives me the opportunity to work with each of the students, find out their plans for the future, and hopefully have a positive influence on the realization of those plans. SIGGRAPH is a great Conference, but it is an even greater Community, and by providing this opportunity for students to become involved, we ensure that our community will continue to grow and prosper.”

In Closing

So whether you go as an attendee, student volunteer, student reporter, student volunteer leader, or an upper staff position, the point is this…make sure that you go.





This site is maintained by ACM SIGGRAPH Reports.
Last updated 8/13/03.

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