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Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH Student Feedback 2012

Below is the feedback from the students who attended SIGGRAPH 2012 in Los Angeles through the Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH program. The ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Pioneers and the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored the students.

We've removed the students’ and mentors’ names, and reformatted the text for consistency.

All content, grammar and spelling are directly from each student.

My experience at the conference may be described as overwhelming, intriguing and fascinating.

Not having much familiarity with the computer graphics world, let alone having heard of SIGGRAPH, I had no expectations of the event. Never have I been to any kind of convention before. I did not expect such a large number of attendees at the conference, nor the professionalism and complexity of it all. I learned many new concepts of computer graphics, including the details involved in making animated films. The hands-on aspects of certain sessions greatly interested me.

Human locomotive, character rigging and cloth simulation are all terms of which I had no knowledge before attending SIGGRAPH 2012. The first session I attended was a Technical Paper. Five minutes into the talk, the lecture proceeds to go on about torques and force and complex equations with ten variables. I sit there and think, what is this? The same thing happens in many other courses. I assume my confusion is due to the fact I am a high school student with little knowledge of computer animation. No matter how bewildered I was, I am also grateful to have been introduced to these new concepts. I may not fully understand the specifics behind ideas such as animation update rates but I grasped the general notion of it all. The conference opened my mind to all the different possibilities of the animation world.

I went to many of the Computer Animation Festival Production Sessions. The filmmakers showed the work involved in creating the characters of many movies like Brave, The Avengers, and Paper Man. For example, in Brave, a painstaking process was used in order to give Merida’s hair the right bounciness and realistic movement. Also, we saw the complexity of modeling facial reactions after real actors to make the Hulk’s facial expressions plausible. I never knew the significance of the details in movies.

My favorite part of the convention was Emerging Technologies. The 3D graphics and simulations fascinated me. An extremely memorable booth was the hand simulation. Two pieces of tape with attached wires were put at specific spots on my arm. A controller sent vibrations or signals through the wires to control my hand. It seemed as if I had no control of my muscles. My hand would move into various positions involuntarily. It was amazing! Another exhibit that stood out to me was one where two paper cups are attached with wires. The person at the booth would give me one cup to hold and pour marbles into the other. I could feel the vibrations in the empty cup I was holding, as if the substance was actually being poured into my cup! All the exciting gadgets in the room were unbelievable!

Never would I have known what I was missing had I not applied for the program. My mentor, encouraged me to try new things and gave me advice when I felt lost and overwhelmed. Having someone with a great amount of experience at SIGGRAPH motivated me. I gained knowledge and inspiration to pursue a career in the computer graphics area. I feel as if everything I gained from the week enabled me to share newfound common interests with my peers. Looking back on the week, I asked myself, would I go back? Definitely yes. I would certainly enjoy attending as a Student Volunteer. One problem would be the age limit of volunteers, as I am still a couple years away from turning eighteen. However, I will not let that stop me from applying as soon as I am eligible. I hope to be back at SIGGRAPH in a few years. SIGGRAPH 2012 impacted me in an incredible way. It gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and was unlike anything I have ever attended. I am extremely grateful for having the chance to participate in the mentor program. The conference is an event in my life I will never forget, certainly a memorable highlight of my summer.

SIGGRAPH 2012 was a wonderful and enriching experience for me.

SIGGRAPH showcases the future of computer graphics and animation a field where workers use there left and right brains to think of fascinating new virtual worlds and creating them. On my first day at SIGGRAPH I met my mentor. He helped point me to the right booths and conferences that I was interested in. On the same day I heard the keynote speech given by Jane McGonigal who I now see as the most inspiring women in gaming. She gave great insight into the potential power of digital games and how games can make the world better. Her ideas were well argued and backed up by psychological studies. By the end of the day I had her book autographed and began reading it.

Then on the next day the exhibition hall opened and the convention center got a lot more crowded. Once I walked up the staircases and walked through the doors there were so many companies showing off there new technologies at there booths. I saw: Intel, BOXX, Unity, Lightwave, Z-Brush, 2K Games, LucasArts, Modo, Pixar and Autodesk. The programs were astonishing with them you can generate a charging army in three minutes or a whole city in thirteen minutes. The most memorable booth I went to was at Intel because it was giving out the most food and gifts. More importantly I spoke with an actual game designer there who was surprised by my age and knew that if I attend every SIGGRAPH from now on I would be a professional. My week at SIGGRAPH ignited my passion and shaped my future.

SIGGRAPH was the highlight of my summer.

I know what I am; 80% science and 20% art. I use science for most things, however deep down I am still an artist. This is something I learned at SIGGRAPH and something that I will never forget. I had a wonderful time there.

The talks were at all levels, some were fairly simple, and others were way above my area of knowledge. I had no idea what levels the talks were going to be on, however the introduction seminar was great and explained the complexity of each talk. I went to one to three talks each day, except for on Tuesday.

Roger Deakins was really amazing, when I saw his name I made sure to see him. He was really nice and modest. I didn't know that his advice was used for so many movies.

Jane McGonigal was nothing like I thought it would be. Using games as medicine is brilliant and the first of her kind. I am also looking forward to seeing a gamer win the Nobel peace prize. There is too much to say about her, I was really impressed. I think I am like her in many ways. All of her calculations brought a smile to my face. I tried writing down as much as I could while still listening. I have always made games (out of items, not on the computer) to help entertain my friends and little brothers, as well as to make them feel better. After seeing her, I really want to win the Nobel Peace Prize for changing the world with a game. I have no idea how I will do that, but I will certainly try.

Monday I saw a bunch of the animation specials, and I saw the VFX special for The Avengers. It was really amazing to see how many parts there were, and how many scenes were full CGI versus the mixed scenes. To see how they used real world actions to generate realistic CGI was amazing. I had no idea how much they were going to go into it. They also had people from different studios there so I feel as if I got a full view, and not just what one studio did. It also gave me insight into what was probably done for all the previous movies like Thor and Iron Man 2. To see all the brilliant ideas that people have come up with over the years to make great animation is something very special. I am really glad I saw that.

I also stayed until after 8:00 pm Monday to see the animation festival. There were so many animations, and all but a few I really loved. I was glad I stayed up late for it (I had a long bus ride home afterwords).

In the Emerging Technologies I was lost for hours in all the amazing technology. I saw the B.O.F. for the Telesar robot on Sunday, and I was able to interact with the robot on Monday. My mentor took a video of me doing things with it. I was able to shake hands with it, give it a high-five, and much more. I also saw one of the coolest animation programs out there. In fact, their software was used to make a Machinima film I had watched online the night before! I saw everything else in the hall, I hugged a teddy bear that hugged me back, I fed a whale some foam, I had my fingers moved for me, and last I played 3D tennis! (I also play tennis is real life.) There was also a board with foam that I drew pictures on and had a lot of fun adjusting the settings to make an ideal canvas. Much of the stuff at emerging technologies was what I expected, however a few were even above my highest expectations. Last, the 3D printers. Not only were they amazing, but they were not that much money for what they do. Two thousand dollars is not that much more than a nice normal printer. The fact that they existed, was not the part that was amazing to me, it's the fact that they had them lined up by the dozen. They worked so well.

Tuesday I tried to see everything at the exhibition hall. I spent the entire day doing almost everything I could. I entered into so many raffles. I got to take a look at a few art schools, countless software devices and some hardware devices as well. The ones that were my favorite were a lot of the hardware stations. The FirePro 3D booth was incredible, and I plan on getting it for the next computer I buy. At one booth I even saw a BOXX computer with almost 200 gigs of ram! It had 8 ram slots and a giant processor in the middle of them.

One of the booths I did the most interaction at was one that had this fancy mouse. It had so many buttons and a joy stick that could do dozens of things. With only 1 hand you could move, reposition, and zoom in/out on any object. It was a little hard to learn it at first but if I bought one I am sure I would get used to it quickly.

The second day I went to the Exhibition hall I saw more presentations. I looked at my favorite booths again, and then sat down a few times. One program I saw would capture motions of people and then put it in a format that can be exported to Maya and Unity and other programs with ease. I watched a combat scene pieced together in minutes. The demonstrator moved the position of the people to make the fight look more realistic. At another presentation I saw how they focused less on a few characters and more on massive numbers. They had brushes that could spawn trees by the thousands, and you could select detail types on the trees. It could also generate lots of creatures moving.

The job fair was nice, but being a high school student, I did not use it for finding work, but just to see what the field was like and what kind of jobs there were within it. I expected it to be bigger than it was though. I expected it to be in one of the big halls, and when I saw it was at the back of the exhibition hall I was a little confused. It was still nice, and I got a few business cards just in case. It was a bit crowded, and I felt that was the only part that the space was not used well at SIGGRAPH.

Overall it was a once in a life time experience, and next summer I will try to become a student volunteer. I think it was organized and executed well on every level. Thank you very much for selecting me.

My experience in SIGGRAPH has been spectacular!

Before my teacher told me about the program, my thoughts about it was – “well, it would be a great opportunity to explore possible careers when I get to college, or just for the experience.” However, unknowingly – that was just the peak of what SIGGRAPH had to offer. It is very astonishing how much five days of SIGGRAPH had increased not only my understanding of current technologies (and those to still come), but also my knowledge of everything: movies, videogames, graphics, and technologies.

My first day at SIGGRAPH – I had no idea what to expect, I was a little timid at first as the people started to pour in but when I attended the very first meeting they had available, it felt pretty good because it gave me the proper guidance and layout of the conference and also, to plan out my schedule more efficiently. I attended lots of talks and tutorial programs, there would even be times where I would forget to eat because I could not get up, they are just very interesting!

The excitement was just beginning – The electric theatre was phenomenal! So many creative minds created spectacular films; it was breath taking. However, until the opening of the exhibition -- the place where I spent countless hours -- has SIGGRAPH been the event of the year for me, with so much knowledge and merchandise in store, and lots of new, improved, and remade technologies - the exhibition surely is my favorite place. I enjoyed the lessons about ZBrush, it was such a great privilege. But of course, I never thought of leaving the place without applying everything I’ve learned to the test – when your bottom starts to numb, listening to the ZBrush professionals explain the basic mechanics of the program – go to the studio and try ZBrush yourself! I could not count the hours I’ve spent in front of those tablets creating whatever comes to mind.

It was very beneficial to have met my mentor, he’s a very nice and helpful person – though I could not chat with him that much because the whole exhibition has gotten me trapped into a spiral, every time I cycle through – there was always something intriguing to feed my interested attention and have me preoccupied for hours.

But overall, my SIGGRAPH experience was rather eye-opening and the journey has impacted me in more ways than one; I was opened up to things I would have never thought existed, like the robot they had that can synchronize its sense of touch with your own – Who knew? Also – having to meet very talented and awesome people, like the ones behind box office hits, and the creative adepts behind animated film whether it be 2D or 3D. My one and only complaint is that the conference period felt really short! The more I enjoyed it, the faster it went. If I never attended this program and someone were to ask what Maya or ZBrush was, I would have no idea what they are talking about, so this program has really opened me up to things I would have never known otherwise. To wrap it up, I guess it’s safe to say that SIGGRAPH is one of this year’s most exquisite of events. I would definitely attend future conferences -- maybe as a volunteer or a just as an attendee. I would definitely recommend this program to a friend because of its unique and innovative facilities.

Thank you very much for this enjoyable experience!

SIGGRAPH 2012 was the best thing I have ever attended.

When coming into this, I had never gone to a conference before; thus, I didn’t know what I was coming into. I’m so glad my cousin informed me about this conference because without it I wouldn’t have learned so much. I love the bookstore because I was able to look at all the books available for my future career in this industry; since, the bookstore that I go to doesn’t have many options. I always came back to my hotel exhausted and thinking how much fun I had today and previous days of the conference. The pioneer mentor program was amazing because my mentor taught me so much; including: what colleges to look at, what softwares to play with, and helped me with some networking. . During the conference, I never got bored at the conference because there is always something to do like the talks, exhibition, and computer animation festival.

The talks were amazing because I learned so much. One day, I blew off my whole schedule going to different talks than I planned and it was still a great day. You have the ability to be able to go into any of the talks and be entertained more than you think it would be. The studio talks were fun and I enjoyed watching how they made their movie or animation short. So, I planned my schedule with more courses than studio talks and I found out that courses were very informative, but the studio talks were very interesting, so I went to more studio talks from there on. One of the courses, Principles of Animation Physics, was so entertaining to watch because they demonstrated how physics will apply to animation and how to use physics. One of my favorite talks was a DreamWorks talking about “Puss in Boots” movie and how they made the tornado scene. This intrigued me because they had many steps to perfect and had to put in the fact the stimulations were too wild to control and some other factors. Pixar was talking about “Brave” at the conference and was very interesting how they did the animation, hair, cloth, light, and environment. Disney was talking about how they created “Paperman” and it was interesting how they conquered the mixture of 2D and 3D in the film. Disney also created software for this short animation and told us the little story behind this short animation, which I found interested in. Some of the talks flew over my head, but it was still interesting to watch. These talks taught me so much that I didn’t know and now have to look up on learning to do them. Some of the talks also inspired me to learn some visual effects and not just animation. Overall, the talks were amazing to watch.

The exhibition was fun to walk through since some of the technology I have never heard of. I was surprised on how many 3D printers were being showed at a booths. It was fun to walk through the booths, be able to play, and be informed with what they had up. I liked watching the videos and demonstrations they were showing at their booths. One of the fun parts about the exhibition was being able to play with some of the technology they had set up. Getting the free stuff they were handing out was fun because there were all sorts of things they handed out. I was able to listen to the bagpipe music, which ended the exhibition, and thought that was the coolest way to end the exhibitions.

The animation festival was entertaining to watch. I was bummed that the screen room showed different videos than the daytime shows. I was able to go to one daytime show and screen room and was entertained every second of it. The animation festival was not just entertaining, but I wanted to go home, get on my computer, and start playing with Autodesk Maya. These videos were so inspiring on what you can do with these softwares.

Now the question is, will I attend SIGGRAPH next year? Yes, especially since it is in Anaheim, CA. I hope to go to SIGGRAPH the next years afterward, too. The SIGGRAPH conference is going to be a big part in my life now because of this pioneer mentor program.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing great” was what my mentor told me after my first day at SIGGRAPH.

Hearing those words after the overwhelming things I saw and experienced during my first day at SIGGRAPH gave me the encouragement to pursue computer graphics, and ultimately film as a career. My high school teacher told me about SIGGRAPH almost 2 weeks before the end of the school year and she told me that she wasn’t really sure how it would benefit me since I know NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, about computer graphics. But nonetheless, I decided to sign up for it and see for myself. I’ve always liked a challenge and believe that in order to grow, you must face new challenges, and attending SIGGRAPH seemed like the way to go.

I met my mentor on the first Monday of SIGGRAPH and I wasn’t quite sure how the mentoring program would work. I was intimidated to be honest, to meet my mentor, since he had been involved in various projects, commercials, and movies, and I have never really done anything besides painting. I was actually surprised at how well we got along, and how he was able to help and navigate me throughout the conference. We were able to see and later meet with the visual effects artists that worked on the movie Hugo. Sitting through the talk and watching the artists go through shot by shot of the things they accomplished and worked on was amazing. I had no idea beforehand that so much work and dedication had to be put into projects like this and the end product was absolutely stunning. They talked about things from the type of tools they used (which, at first, I had no idea what anything meant nor how to pronounce them) to finances, budget, and finally, how they felt about the work they had created and the obstacles they had overcome. Hearing firsthand what these artists had to say was extremely uplifting and it made the experience at SIGGRAPH that much more enjoyable. The opportunity to also meet with such artistically inclined people made me sit back that day and say to myself – This is something I would love to do. Just the passion and the fire they have for film and effects are extremely unbelievable. We were also able to stop by at the Art Gallery, which since it was called an Art Gallery; I immediately thought it would be full of oil paintings and watercolors. Boy was I wrong. It had the most amazing technology I have ever seen, and although they were displayed around the room, made it feel more alive and was more visually stunning than most art galleries I’ve had the opportunity to see and experience. Just walking through and seeing the technology that was created from the minds of the most intellectual people in this field of the arts, made me feel a little unworthy to be standing in the same room. Being at SIGGRAPH also gave me a newfound admiration and respect for people involved in computer graphics, because along with their creativity and passion, also comes enduring the many straining hours of work, the many trials and errors of getting something to their standard of perfection, and ultimately pleasing the audience as well as clients. Their ability to stick through it and to be consistently persistent on getting their vision across was reflected in their amazing work.

As my mentor and I walked out of the presentation, he was able to shed a little light about the types of projects he was currently working on, and the past accomplishments he had achieved. Let me tell you, if you thought I wasn’t intimidated enough by now, you guessed wrong. Hearing his stories and the things he had to say, impressed me and he also told me that he started at exactly the same spot I was in, and that after time, he found himself drawn to computer graphics and that ultimately drove him towards his passion for directing. Having a mentor during SIGGRAPH was also a life changing experience because it gave me the opportunity to hear a firsthand account of someone who’s actually been in the field for a while. Being able to sit down and talk with people who are out there, in the field of computer graphics , urging me to pursue this have really not only been inspiring but have opened up my interests in terms of wanting to do more than I have already done. My mentor and the conference alone gave me the exposure to a different side of art, and it made me extremely eager to get up and start doing something else. Sometimes others don’t realize the impact they have on an individual, whether it is a couple words of encouragement or if it be a story of their own successes and accomplishments, but my mentor had done just that. He, along with the many artists I met and heard speak, had inspired me to do more. SIGGRAPH was more than I thought it would be, and it it’s changed my career plans (and ultimately my life) for the better. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or better exposure to a new art form, which has helped me realize that this is what I want to pursue in life. After a few days at SIGGRAPH, attending the speeches, and meeting with computer graphics artists, and seeing the technology, and after the help and the inspiration my mentor has offered to me, I have enrolled in a Digital Design and Animation class. Wish me luck. :)

SIGGRAPH 2012 was more than I could ever have expected from a technology convention.

The sheer amount of cutting-edge art technology present blew me away. I hadn’t been to a convention that had so many different types of exhibitions and demonstrations, and I was completely immersed in the futuristic art and entertainment technologies being shown. When my art teacher first told me about SIGGRAPH, I have to admit I was doubtful. I thought it would be a convention that could only show me things that I already knew. Tablets, digital art programs, 3D televisions and glasses…I’d already seen all these things. But when I arrived at the convention on Monday, I certainly wasn’t expecting what I would find. I met many industry members at their respective exhibition booths and learned exactly how important the pipeline is for the animation industry. But beyond my own occupational interests, I experienced much more than I thought I could ever see in a week.

From 3D printers to virtual reality headsets, my knowledge of new and innovative technologies expanded to far greater horizons than I could have imagined. Before attending SIGGRAPH, three-dimensional printers were something I had only heard about in computer magazines and electronics websites, but actually seeing one in action really impressed me. I had no idea that the ability to make full three-dimensional copies of Maya and Blender models could be a household activity, but with the emergence of do-it-yourself replicators, my perspective of in-house manufacturing changed drastically. Anything from tool-making to toy creation can be done from a single room.

Right across from the 3D printer station was the Emerging Technologies room, which showcased inventions so cutting-edge I didn’t even know they existed. Emotion simulators, muscle controllers, and wireless human-robot interfaces were just some of the few things I saw and interacted with in the room. My favorite technology was the whale-feeding game, controlled by an infrared Xbox Kinect and air vacuums. When an object touched the light representing the whale, all the Styrofoam balls making up the “ocean” flew up in the air. It was great how the Kinect could track objects interacting with light particles and provide such a dramatic effect.

The few panels I attended, the Avengers, Brave, and video game animation panels, were a bit over my head, but I still learned basics about programs like Zbrush and motion-capture devices that really opened my eyes about how movies and video games are made.

My mentor was an amazing help to me at the convention. He was able to show me all the sights of the Art Gallery and Emerging Technologies halls, and he explained how certain exhibits worked, since at the time I didn’t have much knowledge of any of the technologies being shown off. On a more important note, he taught me about the pipeline, and where my aspiration to be a character designer and story boarder fits into it. I didn’t know how important learning 3D modeling programs like Maya and Zbrush were in the animation business until he told me about the stress companies put on models. I realize now that I should learn sculpture in college, since it’s a prerequisite in many animation programs. Without him, I would have been lost at SIGGRAPH, and unprepared for what animation studios look for in applicants. I hope to keep in touch with him, and I’m grateful he has offered to keep in touch with me. I want to be involved with SIGGRAPH in the future, hopefully as a student volunteer at the next conference, and maybe someday even as a Pioneer mentor myself.

Thank you to everyone in the Pioneer program who made this incredible experience possible!

This experience has given me an open view about my road after high school.

I never cognize about SIGGRAPH, but when I participate the conference, it totally alter my perspective in numerous ways. This conference has provided me to understand the world of technology, and its advances for years to come. I acquire about the new things, saw a extraordinary lecture about the use of videogames, and obtain tips for colleges that focus on computer design or corresponding to it like film.

The Conference was abnormal, and confusing to me, since this was my first conference I ever attend in my life. As the hours passed by I set out to learn new things about different ways how technology was used. For example, I went to a presentation of the special effects for the movie “The Avengers”, and I was reasonably astonish about how they make the special effects. Even though half of what they say was beyond my knowledge, I was determined to learn about how film can create impressive effects. I went to the Art Gallery to see the cool art, such as the blinking horse. I didn’t even know it was a horse until my friend shows me that the lights create the horse apparent motion. The next day, I saw a lecture that talk about the optimistic side of video games. I was surprised about the ways video games can help out on a condition, depression, or even our human skills. I can connect because I also play video games, and it helped me think, have better social skills, and getting rid of my stress. The next few days had opened a new road for me.

SIGGRAPH has allowed me to learn about colleges.Our mentor had taken us to the many college booths, and learned about what colleges are looking for in an application. I learn about so many colleges from far and wide, and this made me open my eyes about the road I am headed. These experiences will allow me to practice more on filming and photography, so that I will show my project in my application. Later on we went to the job fair, and what they have to say was really the same thing if you were applying to college. They wanted determination, experience, and knowledge of art. Even though, art was not my greatest skill, I was interested in learning to make art. Learning about the requirements has taught me to prepare myself and make my senior year count.

Overall this experience has been great. I saw a short film that open my mind about filming. I can’t say what it is since this was before release, but that film blew my mind and I felt the emotion to the story. Although there were some things that were strange and confusing, I learn a lot from this experience. I hope to come back as a student volunteer. I would like to thank my teacher Mrs. Aaronson for telling me about this conference, and giving me an opportunity to explore new things. I am ready to show colleges what I can do and show my skills as a filmmaker. I hope that one day I would be at the conference as a speaker. Once again SIGGRAPH thank you for the opportunity, and knowledge for applying to colleges.

When I first entered the Los Angeles Convention Center on Sunday morning, I was instantly blown away.

Every panel and booth was so interesting and mind blowing that it was absolutely crazy. Before my teacher encouraged my class to apply for the student-mentor program, I had never heard of SIGGRAPH so I really didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to something like this before. The days went by so quickly that the week was over before I knew it.

My favorite two panels had to be the Avengers VFX breakdown and the making of Pixar’s Brave. It was amazing to see how my favorite movies were made and how much work went into making them. Seeing the hours and hours of work that went into making the movies just enhanced my appreciation for the folks who do all the behind the scenes work because they just don’t get the recognition that they deserve.

It was really amazing to see all the new technologies both in the Emerging Technologies room and in the exhibition area. Robots, holograms, virtual reality devices, and all other sorts of amazing stuff were on display. I was really impressed by the robot that while attached to a person would do everything that the person would do. If the person made a fist, so would the robot. Even more impressive was that the senses could be transferred from the robot to the attached person. If the robot was holding a cold soda can, the person would also feel a cold sensation as well! It was really amazing. And that was only the tip of the iceberg of all the amazing technologies presented.

My mentor was also pretty awesome. She was nice, helpful and really showed me what it is like to be part of the animation industry. She answered all of my annoying questions and overall was very helpful. She introduced me to some of her friends who also helped learn quite a bit.

The only drawbacks I had with SIGGRAPH is not necessarily their fault. Some of the speakers were incredibly dull and bland. On one of the panels I sat in I could barely understand the speaker as his voice was monotone and nasally. It didn’t help that the subject matter he was talking about was pretty complex (to me).

Overall, SIGGRAPH was a really phenomenal experience. I will definitely return when I am older and will be able to benefit more from it. Did I enjoy the experience? Absolutely. Was it educational? Yep. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. It opened my eyes to the vast world of computer graphics and how it is a vital part of the entertainment industry.

Signing up for SIGGRAPH in the first place, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Only informed by my local community counselor of a convention for computer graphics, I was told it would probably be a great opportunity for me to experience some new technology information, since I was very fond of that field. At first signing up, I thought that the Pioneer program would be any of those programs that 1/1000 is chosen, but I was wrong, but I’m glad I was. The experience and knowledge that I got out of SIGGRAPH has impacted my views, interests, and social interaction.

My first day I attended, honestly, I thought I was a lost child in a foreign market, I had so many things that I could’ve seen, test out, and purchase, while being overwhelmed the level of intellect that it comes to take to understand majority of the stuff. My favorite of all the open events were definitely the Emerging Technologies and Studios. In those open events I got to have firsthand look at new innovations, as well as classes that provided me with knowledge in the use of new digital programming. Never once did I get bored, moving from one booth to another.

I attended one talk, regarding the work that was put into the recently released movie, “Avengers”. I wasn’t expecting what I actually came to enjoy, the talk was all about how majority of the film was made on the computer, which really changed my views on movies, seeing how some look so simple to any viewer, but being able to understand all the hard work that was put into every scene, particle, and character.

My first expectation for SIGGRAPH was an opportunity to explore possible future careers. Unfortunately I was disappointed because of the image I gave myself coming into SIGGRAPH, but after a few hours all that changed. I came in with expectations, but left out learning things out of my imagination. Sure a bonus is all the awesome free stuff we are allowed to get, some of which are in my opinion, ridiculous to just hand out for free! Because of my previous expectation coming into SIGGRAPH, I took my time to attend the Job Fair at the Exhibition Hall, which I got to see how many people can become connected to many well-known companies and producers into being hired to work.

Through the conference I was able to grow individually, because of my usual tendency to be very shy. In the conference I was able to open up to all types of workers that would be more than gladly to explain how everything worked. I didn’t come into the conference knowing a whole lot about computer graphics, so I was pretty baffled when it came to understanding a lot of concepts, terms, and equipment. Most of all, the mentorship program was great, having someone that would be by my side whenever I needed as well as someone who was experienced in the computer graphics field, I felt like I was able to learn from a one-to-one point of view.

In the end, I wasn’t able to attend many things that I would’ve like to, but I was perfectly fine with that, because I was able to spend more of my time on things that I believe that would stick with me for the rest of my life. Overall SIGGRAPH was AWESOME, I’m so thankful for the Pioneer Mentorship Program for providing free admission for kids to be able to experience events like this, and I would definitely go again if I could!

My SIGGRAPH experience was an experience like no other. 

A gathering of artists, graphic designers, animators, engineers, filmmakers, and people from all over the world in one conference, embracing and driving the world of computer graphics. Well if that doesn’t sound exciting, then I don’t know what does. This conference was unique for me, and I am positive it was for everyone else who attended. I first heard about the conference through my digital media teacher, who suggested I should apply. Since I had no idea what ACM SIGGRAPH or the SIGGRAPH Conference was, I decided to do some research. After spending some time on the internet I began to form a vague idea of what to expect from the conference. However, my experience far surpassed my expectations in so many ways.

On the first day of the conference I decided to first visit the Art Gallery and Emerging Technologies. As I entered the Art Gallery the first thing I noticed was this wooden machine that had a projector. It was a wind powered mechanism that turned on a light that projected moving cutouts onto a see-through sheet. It was incredibly fascinating to see how they integrated art and technology. The more I explored the conference the more it became evident that art and technology were deeply intertwined. After my stay in the Art Gallery I decided to go to the Emerging Technologies section. The first thing that caught my attention was my expression as seen through the M.I.T. Mood Meter. By the end of my tour around the Emerging Technologies, my facial expression on the meter was far more enthusiastic.

It was incredibly rewarding to see the artistic side of technology - the Art Gallery - and to see the new and upcoming technologies that were shown in Emerging Technologies. However, there was one side of the conference that I had yet to see . . . the technical aspects of it all. The first time I experienced the technicality of the conference was during a Course with cinematographer Roger Deakins who has worked on such films as Wall-E. Most of what he discussed flew right over my head, and I was at a loss as to what most of the technical terms meant. After experiencing the technical aspects of the conference I realized that I am definitely on the artistic side of computer graphics. Having said that I can now describe my favorite moments of the SIGGRAPH conference. My first favorite moment was the Computer Animation Festival. It was awe-inspiring to see all of the beautifully created animations. After spending my entire time in the conference hearing about the technicality and complexity of animation, I was able to fully appreciate every single short even more. Especially a short created by Disney. Seeing the Disney short was my second and most favorite moment of SIGGRAPH. Disney allowed for the attendees of the Conference to see their short before its release sometime in November. To pay respect to Disney I won’t be describing the animation, or releasing its name. I wouldn’t want to spoil this beautifully animated short for anyone. I can honestly say that this was the best short in the entire Computer Animation Festival. The story and music went together perfectly, and the application of 2D and 3D in animation was incredible. It is definitely a game changer! After I saw Disney’s short I was ecstatic to hear that the animators would be discussing the “art and science” behind their animation in a Production Session. I couldn’t wait for this opportunity! After attending the Production Session two things became very clear to me; One, Art and Science complement each other perfectly like HTML and Web Design. Two, I have never been more positive that I want to create some form of art for the rest of my life.

It’s hard to describe the entire SIGGRAPH experience in a short essay, it is definitely something to experience first hand. An experience like no other! I have never been exposed to so much having to deal with technology, art, animation, science, math, film, and computer graphics than I have during the week of SIGGRAPH. I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity, and hope to see everyone again next year as a student volunteer.

When my Web Designing teacher gave me the application form for SIGGRAPH 2012, I had no idea what to expect.

He just handed it to me one day after class and stormed off. All I understood was that it was something about computer graphics and animation. I decided to apply anyways and check it out. Now, after the conference, I’m very glad that I applied.

At first, my expectations for SIGGRAPH weren’t very high. My initial thought was, “It can’t be that great if I never heard about it from anyone before.” But then I checked the Facebook page of SIGGRAPH. I changed my mind after I saw the 11k+ likes. I reckoned it must be popular to have so many fans. I anticipated a lot of high school students. I was also thinking there would be special kind of workshops or programs dedicated to our understanding.

As I entered LA Convention Center early in the morning on August 5th, my thoughts began to change. Most people surrounding me were adults and college students. I started to feel a bit out of place. But it was thrilling because I never went to a conference or workshop where I’m one of the very few high school students among so many adults. I felt really special. I chose to go to one of the talks. I was following for the first 10mins but then I got really lost. The lecture was too technical for me to understand. I experienced similar situations in all the talks I attended. I was expecting the talks to be much simpler and more apprehensible to people with no technical knowledge. Nonetheless, the talks didn’t fail to amaze me as I learned there are so many ways to do something and so many things to learn.

What really amazed me in SIGGRAPH, were the emerging technologies, art gallery and the animation festival. The creativity and innovation really astonished me. I always heard about controlling a robot through body movement. Seeing it in the emerging technologies, felt like a dream come true. I never thought I would be able to see it with my own eyes. In animation festival, I really liked how some videos showed how the animation works in various movies that we watch every year. The participants also had some really creative ideas which are rare to find in regular animation movies. The exhibition booths were quiet interesting too. I think it would have been more fun if I could interact with the booths more though. For example, I enjoyed the touch screen TV like video game because they allowed the visitors play with it too.

In short, SIGGRAPH was a fun and insightful experience. I can draw from this experience and apply it in my academic life and also in everyday life. I believe my experience in the conference will help me enormously in my cartoon animation class. In personal level, the conference made me more mature and independent as I attended the conference filled with adults with very little adult supervision. I am grateful to SIGGRAPH for letting me be a part of such a wonderful experience.

If anyone were to ask me what was my overall impression about attending the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference, I would simply respond with one word, “AMAZING.”

Going in I had very little knowledge of what computer graphics and animation were about, and to be honest I was a bit intimidated. However, my anxieties were quickly washed away once I met my mentor and his wife. They were polite, energetic, and enthusiastic about meeting me, which let me know right off the bat that I’d have a wonderful week at SIGGRAPH.

When I had first arrived at the SIGGRAPH conference, I felt overwhelmed by the program and the different presentations that were offered, but David helped me organize my itinerary and suggested which presentations I should attend. I was blown away and greatly inspired by every presentation I attended.

My eyes were opened to all the information and applications that animation and computer graphics revolved around. Some of my favorites were: “An Algebraic Model for Parameterized Shape Editing”, “Robust Modeling of Constant Mean Curvature Surfaces”, “Realistic Perspective Projections for Virtual Objects and Environments”, and “Pre-Commutated Acceleration Noise for Improved Rigid-Body Sound”. Although some of presentation titles seemed hard to understand, I was nonetheless intrigued by every one of them. Although I enjoyed rushing from one technical talk to another, the Exhibition Floor, and Emerging Technologies were the most impressive to me. The exhibitor’s floor appeared massive to me and I walked around visiting as many booths as I could each day between presentations.

I became informed about the vast variety of colleges that existed across my own state of California, many of which I did not of. I also became more informed about the many fine colleges on the East Coast of the United States, as well as Europe. I also got the chance to talk to representatives from multiple companies that I will hopefully one day work for. Overall, I believe no classroom could have ever given me the experience that attending SIGGRAPH did. It is one thing to be lectured about how technology can be applied, but it’s quite another to actually see first hand where exactly technology currently is and how people are applying it. As of now, I am enrolled in AP Calculus, and I feel that I am on the right track to pursuing a career in computer graphics.

Attending the SIGGRAPH conference gave me a new perspective on my studies at Esteban E. Torres High School in East Los Angeles. Now I realize that my success in high school will not only benefit me, but also quite possibly the future of my community. The conference had introduced me to a whole new world of computer technology and its applications.

The emerging technologies at SIGGRAPH sparked “a fire” in my brain and since that day I’ve found myself constantly thinking about, “What can I do? “What can I build? and “Can I make a difference in the lives of many?” There are limitless possibilities for my future and I have the SIGGRAPH pioneer-mentoring program to thank for that. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my Chemistry Teacher Mr. Don for encouraging me and for recommending me to attend the conference.

SIGGRAPH 2012 was an excellent experience for me and it will be one of the most memorable events in my life.

Before attending, I had never heard, let alone knew, what SIGGRAPH was. Being my first time attending, I did not know what to expect. Should I only attend courses based on what I want to do in the future or what seems very interesting? Should I attend the “Tech Talks” or hang out by the Job Fair to see what companies are really looking for? My mentor helped me prioritise and gave me a quick tour the day we were scheduled to meet. He also advised me to take a look at the “Keynote Speaker/ACM SIGGRAPH Awards”, which was excellent and well put together. He was very helpful, answered all of my questions and even told me how Level Design, something I want to do in the future, works and its importance.

The “Tech Talks” were amazing. The speakers could go into as much detail as they could and answer all the audience’s questions within their given time limit. I was surprised to see that many people left after just a few minutes, as if it were going to be something completely different. To me, that didn’t matter. I learned so much in just a few short minutes than I would be able to by looking it up for hours on the internet or asking a teacher.

The “Emerging Technologies” area was great. It had so many different ideas and technologies that were very interesting and could possibly kick-start other projects and innovations. It was also the place I would visit the most because it was great to see what could be coming in five to ten years and what was a great idea but I knew it would not be able to hit the stores in such a short time. I even got to do a bit of mocap, or motion capture, and got a deal on the software by the people working the booth.

The Exhibition Hall was amazing; I was surprised by how many people arrived and how many waited in line for the coveted Renderman teapots. I managed to pick up a few things that I knew were hard to come by and expensive but given for free (the teapot, for one.) I also had the chance to talk to anyone at their booths for information regarding their companies. The Posters were very interesting to look at, especially the day I was able to talk with the ones who made them. The amount of work, effort, time and their ideas were enough to get me started on my own ideas. I guess what I really enjoyed the most were the Computer Animation Daytime Selects and the Computer Animation Festival Electronic Theatre, especially seeing the music video of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men.

Attending the SIGGRAPH 2012 Conference has changed me for the better; I now know what I need to do to make it in the technological industry and I have learned much more than I could have on my own. If I were able to do this again, without a doubt, I would. I got to meet new people and make a few friends, something that no one can ever go wrong with. I was even able to see the Mars rover, Curiosity, land on Mars in the “Geek Bar”.

It was my first time attending SIGGRAPH and it was a memorable and unforgettable experience and it’s all thanks to the mentoring program.

A few things that really stick out in my head as being the best part of my experience are the animation festival and “Paperman.”

One of the first things that really struck me about SIGGRAPH was how technical and complex everything that was being talked about was. I want to be a filmmaker and when I saw all these technical talks, I was scared. I thought to myself “how can I do this?...it’s too complicated” . As the conference went on I just became more and more intimidated by 3D animation and visual effects, which are a huge part of film today. The showfloor was filled with all kinds of different “rendering programs” and “rendering tools” ….most of the time I nodded as people would talk to me about what these things could do but I had no idea what they were actually talking about. I felt the conference might actually discourage me from film and animation.

My friend told to go with him to the animation festival on the second day, I told him I would go. I sat down just waiting to become even more intimidated but the first video I saw was a music video, I remember thinking “Wow! Now that’s art…the visual effects just went beautifully with the music. With every passing video I was more and more impressed…the visual and artistic vison behind every video was unique and stunning. but even though I was impressed I still believed it wasn’t something I would want to do or even could do, I could see myself thinking making one of these shorts…”why would I want to do this for a living? Then “Paperman” came on ...

When that Disney short came on I realized this isn’t something I want to do…it’s something that I need to do! When I saw “Paperman” I honestly felt like crying, it was so perfectly designed and told…the story, the music, the animation and visuals… all of it was perfect. When I saw the making of the short later on in the conference…I saw people who were like me, of course they were talking about complicated technical things but it was more interesting to me because they were stating constantly how every choice in the technical side was for the sake of the feel and emotion of the story and that truly inspired me. The fact that they created new software just for the film was incredible. They gave us a booklet before the talk filled with concept art and early designs, the more I learned about the process of how they made this short made me urge to do this for living grow even bigger and bigger, I walked out of that theater inspired and that night I downloaded the demo of a animation program. That whole night I just messed around with the different settings making a face smile and laugh. Now as I’m soon going to apply to college I have made up my mind and decided to learn animation in college, and I believe if it wasn’t for both the Animation festival and “Paperman” that I would not have the urge to learn those skills after high school , it’s all thanks to SIGGRAPH and the mentoring program for inspiring me to try my hand in learning animation as part of my filmmaking tool belt. I can talk about hundreds of things I did in SIGGRAPH, I really can but this experience is really the one that I think about day and night till this day.