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  Reports from SIGGRAPH 2001


by Ben Wyrick

I came to San Antonio with two goals: get a cowboy hat and get rid of as many of my demo reels as possible. I am pleased to report I have accomplished both goals.

Aside from the hat thing and the demo reel thing I have also been charged with the task of reporting on the conference and the experience which is uniquely SIGGRAPH. I tried to organize my notes, collected from my reporter’s notebook, and failed miserably. SIGGRAPH is nonlinear. People who present papers here use big words like stochastic, which means random. So, in keeping with the stochastic, nonlinear nature of SIGRAPH, here are my impressions. In no particular order.

The Yoda session was packed. Everybody wanted to be in the same ballroom with people who are on a first name basis with George Lucas. I thought I was standing in line to see a rock star.

The Alamo was cool and I spent an hour one morning photographing it. It is a significant experience to stand in a place where brave people fought and died.

How to describe SIGGRAPH attendees… They range from Trekkie-looking people wearing all-black, to office-Joes wearing Hawaiian shirts, to business-formal-dressed company reps with cards for networking, to students trying to look smart and grown-up (my category), to people from all over the country speaking in languages I can’t understand. The cool thing is that the guy with pink, spikey hair could very well be the lead character animator for a prestigious effects house. Or the president.

This is my second SIGGRAPH and I had the pleasure to meet people I haven’t seen since last year. I feel like I’m getting cycled into the SIGGRAPH loop. I see people who have been going to the conference for many years doing the same thing.

I was lucky enough to see behind-the-scenes stuff from movies like “Stuart Little 2,” “Spider Man,” “Ice Age,” and of course “Star Wars.” It made me want to be like the people up at the podium talking about footage they created. The funny thing is that those people look just like the rest of us. I guess I expected them to float effortlessly trough the aether which we mortals are forced to walk through.

The Electronic Theater succeeded in making me feel tremendously unworthy in the presence of such accomplished work.

I was reminded of news footage of Janet Reno dancing while I was at the Opening Reception. I guess I fell into the false generalization that computer scientists are a bunch of anti-social people who don’t know how to have fun. But I took some really cool pictures of SIGGRAPHers breaking it down in style.

The River Walk was wicked-cool. However I will say that if I have to go to the River Center and listen to their band playing Simon and Garfunkel over and over again I am going to be sick.

I wish I had more time to devote to the conference. There are so many things to do and when you get tired of walking around you can stop in at the Computer Animation Festival and see amazing animations you won’t find anywhere else. There is just so much to do. I am glad I am relatively new to this and don’t have a million friends in the industry like it seems other people here do. I’d never get anything done.

It is really inspiring to look at the conference as a whole. In the special sessions and on the exhibit floor I see technology that originated in places like the Papers sessions. People love SIGGRAPH for different reasons. Some consider the highest honor to be presenting a paper and being recognized by the academic community. Other people feel a sense of accomplishment when their booth attracts gaping-mouthed visitors.

I like being in the same convention center as people who pioneered the graphics we take for granted today. I like cutting through the crowds and thinking about all the cool jobs the people here have and how they are doing the stuff which the rest of the world considers magic.

My last night at the conference I said goodbye to some people who graduated from my school. They are going on to pursue lives in computer graphics and I don’t know when I’ll see them next. Perhaps I’ll run into them at SIGGRAPH.


Official SIGGRAPH 2002 International Resources


The annual conference is a chance to see friends you might only see at SIGGRAPH.


SIGGRAPH is the name of the show. ACM SIGGRAPH is the name of the organization.

Photos from SIGGRAPH 2002


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