eTech & Art
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  Reports from SIGGRAPH 2001


by Jessica Fernandes

Another year, another incredible event, and so little time to experience it all. If I did not enjoy it so much, I would say that such taunting is unfair. However, with the multitude of people, the information overload, the masses of eye-candy, the digi-geek talk and the company events, it’s hard to come away with anything but inspiration. It’s like being immersed in an amazing lucid dream. Don’t pinch me. Reality can wait. I’m still on my positive high from the experience.

My dreamscape for the week consisted of tides of people, carpeted walkways, scattered laptop users seated near every available outlet, and packed venues demonstrating everything from VR samurai fighting, to the newest advancements in realistic feather rendering. Here, little creatures bouncing around with lightsavers, grown men strutting their stuff in Hawaiian shirts, and everyone stocking up on swag, is the norm. A digital geek’s paradise. I felt right at home.

Asked to cover events, I was allowed to wander about with a heightened semblance of importance. The position was only challenged when a friend mockingly questioned the “Navigated by Pathfinders” ribbon attached to my badge. Yes, I had had trouble finding my way. In my defense, asking for directions from a knowledgeable source can take less time than locating yourself on a map. Is such sensibility to be ridiculed? The answer came from a stranger who happened to have overheard our conversation. It seems Jim Blinn could be found wandering about with a similar addition to his badge. Needless to say, the orange ribbon was worn with unabashed pride for the remainder of the week.

Having attended one “Star Wars”, two “Ice Age” and half a “Spider-Man”, making-of session, certain movie-magic had been noticeably demystified. Since my first SIGGRAPH, my movie going habits have been slightly altered. Now there is the first time viewing, for pure entertainment value, and a second pass, to gauge where and how CG was used. Believe me, it is quite a feeling to be hearing about how these effects were created, from the actual people behind the creative and technical genius.

Between attending courses, papers, panels and special sessions, time on the exhibition floor was on fast forward. I saw the booths, spoke to some company reps and brought back literature to be sifted through at some later time. Essentially, it was a free for all. I was there for the first five minutes prior to the doors opening, privy to company chants and last minute motivational speeches. Ironically, I was also there for the last five minutes, as frantic last minute questions were being asked and demos being shown, just before the carpets were stripped from the floor as people filed out. It was a particularly odd environment. I cannot say that I have experienced anything like that, on such a large scale, before.

San Antonio is a lovely city, with gorgeous weather and ridiculously cold air conditioning. One particular day, my friends were all working or attending courses, my feet refused to wander any longer, and my body craved natural light. In true SIGGRAPH spirit, I found myself a utility outlet, plugged in my laptop, and parked myself outside on the concrete under the Lila Cockrell Theatre, just beside the river. The intention was to get a head start on an article I was writing. After having passersby smile and commend me for such a lovely office space, my productive intentions sprouted wings and flew off. Instead, I sat there thinking about this place, about these people and about this conference. I felt fortunate to be here, happy to contribute in my own little way, and certain that I would be back next year for another amazing experience.

People make SIGGRAPH what it is. Here a small sampling of the people here in 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