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  Reports from SIGGRAPH 2001

SIGGRAPH: Web Graphics

by Jessica Fernandes
July 26, 2002

For years people have been creating visual imagery and movement that serves both to entertain and extend the boundaries of our imagination. Modeling, animation, programming for animation, rendering and lighting techniques, the list of content shown at SIGGRAPH goes on. However, with the evolution of the web as a staple source of information and communication, we were left to wonder why web graphics coverage had been so sparse at SIGGRAPH. This year's inaugural Web Graphics Program addresses the issue by bringing together a series of sessions, presented by speakers from 13 different countries, covering everything from color and compression, to the evolution of 2D animation.

As Simon Allardice, Chair of the Web Graphics Program, pointed out, the crossover of talents from other areas of the CG industry is growing. One of the goals of the Web Graphics Program is to help demonstrate to artists, engineers, animators and modelers how they can tap into and enrich this resource.

A Flash user myself, I was happy to finally have the opportunity to learn more about web graphics and animation within SIGGRAPH. Here, I could sit through sessions given by people whose books I had been following just weeks before. Given the amount of content shown at SIGGRAPH, having the Program divided into sections helped attendees, myself included, pinpoint which sessions were most personally relevant and interesting.

Among my personal favorites was the section on Animation. A digital artist, I now found the opportunity to explore the finer points of classical animation. As such, I was surprised to learn about the cost of creating a hand drawn cartoon and the history of the field. Having been introduced to 2D animation using Flash, I never really thought about the cost efficiency of such a software program. Whereas hand drawn animation would take an animator a minimum of three frames to turn a character's head, programs such as Flash and ToonBoom would involve manipulation of a single drawing. As such, the cost and time involved in web graphics production could be substantially less than that of more traditional methods.

In terms of staging animation, it was nice to see that 2D software tools worked off the genius of classical animation masters such as Hanna Barbara. That is to say, they took the genius of "limited animation systems", where drawing for animation was structured to reduce labor intensive redrawing of cells, and furthered it. By doing so, and allowing drawn images to be flipped over in a plane, a sequence, such as a character moving from right to left across the screen, could be manipulated within a few mouse clicks and easily reversed.

After hearing someone speak about the production of the Web 3D RoundUp art prize winner of SIGGRAPH 2001, “Horses for Courses”, exploring the line between film and game, exploring web-safe colors and learning about the creation of interactive 3D content for the web, I was starting to really gain a sense of the reach of this graphics sector.

The scope and applications of web graphics, which was once confined to the dot com industry, now thrive. The dot com stigmata of stick figure/flashy animation will eventually wear off. When it does, and people fully embrace the possibilities web graphics offers, the future of visual internet content will change forever. Until then, web graphics enthusiasts must continue to find their way into the mainstream spotlight. Presence at SIGGRAPH is a promising forward step towards that goal.




Web Graphics PR Blurb


Web Graphics Conference Page



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