eTech & Art
   New in 02!
  Reports from SIGGRAPH 2001

Interview: Tom Appolloni, SIGGRAPH 2002 Conference Chair

August 2002

What first drew you to computer graphics?

I was always interested in geometric shapes and my first real geometry course in high school presented me with all the relationships which further fueled my interests. However, like most people back then (we're talking late 60s, early 70s), computers were not available to the ordinary person. However with the advent of personal computers, the drudgery of hand computations were eliminated and exploring the display of the myriad of shapes was available. I was hooked and though I've popped in and out of the field, it has always been an area I enjoy exploring even if it is as a hobby vs a career. The more you learn, the more you realize there is so much more you need to learn. That's a good thing.

Do you have any favorite CG mentors?

I can't say that I have any favorite mentor. Since my entry into computer graphics as a career path was fairly late in my Air Force career (I first served 12 years as a pilot), and am now a software engineer, a vast majority of my computer graphics experience has been via hands-on development with a lot of personal research into published papers. So, while I don't have a favorite CG mentor, I have many favorite algorithms and techniques I've learned from many of our dedicated researchers.

What was the first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH?

My first contribution to SIGGRAPH was when I served as the Exhibits Chair on the SIGGRAPH 96 committee. This was the first SIGGRAPH conference in New Orleans.

What year/city was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?

My first SIGGRAPH was in 87 but I was only there with an exhibits pass to scout out the latest in hardware and software as I had a budget to start up a computer graphics lab while I was stationed at Eglin AFB in FL. My first real conference was SIGGRAPH 93 in Anaheim, CA. Probably the most intense was SIGGRAPH 2000 because I had two roles to play. I was the SIGGRAPH 2000 Sketches & Applications Chair but 7 months prior to the conference I had been chosen as the SIGGRAPH 2002 conference chair. So at SIGGRAPH 2000, I had the Sketches & Application program to produce but at the same time I was interviewing potential program chairs for SIGGRAPH 2002. It was a busy week.

What contributions to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of?

Without a doubt, being the conference chair for SIGGRAPH 2002 is the experience that will never be topped. Getting that wonderful conference committee together and seeing a conference come together from start to finish is something about which I will always be proud.

What's your favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH?

The conference attendees arrive at SIGGRAPH every year and get to experience one of the most diverse and highly technical conferences in the world and it seems to happen every year like it is no big deal. To me, being involved with its creations as many times as I have, seeing it all come off so well each year has to be one of my favorite things. To those who have not been involved in creating a SIGGRAPH conference, I would urge you to do so, it will give you a whole new appreciation of every conference for the rest of your life. The dedication of everyone who does this is absolutely remarkable.

What near/intermediate developments in CG do you look forward to?

I continue to look forward to the advances that we're seeing in machine power and the graphic APIs. For each advancement we see marked improvements in the way we can do more and more graphically. For every step forward I take creating new designs and displays based on the latest improvements, the customer wants even more and I take it as a challenge to see what I can do to make more happen. That means I need to learn more. So you see, even 30 years after high school, there is even more to experiment and explore than we even thought possible way back then.
Tom had a bit of help from the
SIGGRAPH 2002 Committee




This page is maintained by
Jan Hardenbergh
All photos you see in the 2002 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY