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Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH Student Feedback 2013

Below is the feedback from the students who attended SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim, CA, 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.

I was immediately struck with a sense of belonging.

Upon initially arriving at the Anaheim Convention Center on Sunday morning, I was in awe at the number of people present. People of all different ethnicities and ages made the crowd colorful with diversity. No two people were the same, with the exception of the lime green lanyard around their necks. Everyone was bound together as a community by them -- A community of artists, programmers, innovators, and much more. Left brain and right brain was the theme of this gathering. Inspiration, wonder, creativity meeting order, balance, and technicalities. Two halves coming together in harmony to create a bigger picture, SIGGRAPH. Being an artist myself, I was immediately struck with a sense of belonging. It was like a natural habitat, and once I got that hi-lite green lanyard that was slightly offending to the eyes, I was in. Like my other pioneers, I had full access to the conference. Anything that happened to pique my interest, I could be a part of! As a result, I got to sit in on various talks, courses, technical papers, making of, etc. Admittedly, most of the technical stuff went right over my head, but no matter what I was sitting in on, the visuals were striking. Seeing the original idea, then the time and effort going into making said idea into a piece of digital art was fascinating. Moreover, it made me want to be a part of the process. I also realized that I was interested in more than just concept work. Visual effects, lighting, storyboarding, and screen play were also topics that I found interesting.

Although the lectures and behind the scenes shows were interesting, what grabbed my attention the most was the exhibits. Several booths lined the massive halls, all showcasing their own up and coming technology. I was able to step into virtual reality with Canon’s 3D reality glasses. My thumbprint was scanned and played as an audio file. Next door they had hands-on activities with programs and techniques used already in the professional environment. This was perfect for high-school students (myself included) who might not have such tools available to them. For example, you could create games with Unity, or make digital sculptures with zBrush and then print them with a 3D printer. I even got a digital 3D model of myself scanned and printed.

Although I was only to meet my mentor a couple days out of the week due to her busy schedule, she was able to offer me some very valuable information. We met for about 45 minutes each time, and she enlightened me on several different topics. We conversed about what I wanted to do professionally, colleges, companies, and my opinion on the conference. It was refreshing to be able to talk to someone in the digital arts field, after simply listening to several while in their lectures. We got along very well, and have agreed to keep in touch. Not only did I make a friend, I also was able to market myself to her.

I am counting down the days until I can wander through the beautiful organized-chaos that is SIGGRAPH again.

When I first walked into the Anaheim Convention Center that Sunday, I was overwhelmed by the posters and displays hanging around the main areas. The people around me were using big words like “rotoscoping,” “photonic mixer devices,” and “thin skin elastodynamics.” I had no clue what they meant and I still am not quite sure what they meant, but that was the beauty of it. It was a place for professionals, amateurs, and enthusiasts alike to come together to learn from one another.

Before I came here, I had no knowledge of computer graphics. I was a high school student involved with his schools film-making and theatre programs. I left SIGGRAPH with valuable knowledge on how I could apply basic computer graphics to my films. I also learned that as an actor, I had to learn how to react to objects that aren’t there but get added in Post-Production.

My first day at SIGGRAPH, I didn’t know where to go. After getting registered, I asked some nice people where my first event was. The “Introduction to Computer Graphics” course was a life saver! I learned most of what people were talking about when they said “rigging” or “rendering”. I also attended the “Ready, Steady, SIGGRAPH!” course which helped me decide where I wanted to go each day.

The rest of the week flew by! I attended production sessions that discussed the behind the scenes graphics of major films. I learned how to illuminate an obstacle course, (Monsters University), create a forest, (Star Trek: Into Darkness), save people from a plane, (Iron Man 3), punch through a building, (Pacific Rim), and level a city, (Man of Steel). The production sessions blew my mind! I loved seeing how they made effects I could hardly dream of having in my films!

I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the expansive exhibition hall. I received an immense number of flyers and other free stuff. I liked looking at all the Art Schools and got some information from a few of them I might look into. The job fair was exciting! Although I was a high school student I meandered through gathering business cards and flyers, and plan on building up my demo reel to present at next year’s job fair.

The highlight of my week was a Keynote session called, “Marc Davis Lecture Series: Giants’ First Steps. It was a panel filled with Animation industry professionals; Ron Clements, Pete Docter, Eric Goldberg, Kevin Lima, Mike Mitchell, Chris Sanders, Henry Selick, David Sherman, and Kirk Wise. They talked about how they got into the business and how they got their start. What they were saying was really impactful, and really stuck with me. A main point they brought up with Film and Animation is that if the story is smothered by the visual effects it loses its captivation. I took so much from this lecture that I am sure that my next film will be impacted with the wise words of these nine men.

All in all, applying for this program was the best decision I could have made. My mentor was awesome, encouraging me to go to different seminars and telling me where to go. Hopefully next year I will be able to go again through this program and when I turn eighteen I will be sure to become a Student Volunteer. I have gained so much from this conference and am counting down the days until I can put another badge back on and wander through the beautiful organized-chaos that is SIGGRAPH.

The amount of knowledge and connections I acquired at SIGGRAPH will always stay with me and help me in the future.

The opportunity to participate in SIGGRAPH’s 2013 Pioneer Mentoring program has benefited me in a number of ways. This opportunity has enhanced my confidence and wiliness to speak to others, which has allowed me to sharpen my networking skills. In addition to having exposed me to a great deal of professions, which has helped me explore potential careers. I learned and explored a number of things at SIGGRAPH nevertheless perhaps what I enjoyed the most was spending time with my mentor. The relationship and connection I grew with my mentor was unique from any other I’ve had before.

I spent my first few days at SIGGRAPH meeting other participants and SIGGRAPH employees. I usually tend to keep to myself but the friendly atmosphere at the conference made me feel at ease. And allowed me to begin creating life long friendships. The opportunity to interact with the other participants helped me build up my self-esteem and has exposed me to a diverse group of people. SIGGRAPH’s diverse setting has put me in an environment that you could probably only find in colleges. The opportunity to be in such a diverse setting doesn’t come often and for that reason makes SIGGRAPH unique.

While conversing with presenters and SIGGRAPH employees at the convention I learned about some interesting careers. Careers that I never even knew existed, and am now interested in learning more about. Before having attended SIGGRAPH I used to think there were only limited careers in the field of graphic design, but after having attend SIGGRAPH I now realize just how mistaken I was. I have also, through SIGRAPH’s job fair, learned what employers look for in applicants. My exposure to recruiters and professionals in their fields has benefited me significantly and will serve as my foundation when I decide on a career.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect about participating in SIGGRAPH’s Pioneer Mentoring program is having a mentor with you throughout the entire conference. I most definitely enjoyed every second that I spent with my mentor, her experiences and wisdom allowed her to give me great advice. My mentor played an essential role in assuring that my experience at SIGGRAPH was both enjoyable and educational. In addition having someone who has previously been to several SIGGRAPH conferences was very helpful when deciding what I wanted to see. I certainly appreciate my mentor for all she did for me and feel I grew a strong connection with her as the week progressed.

The amount of knowledge and connections I acquired at SIGGRAPH will always stay with me and help me in the future. I have gained confidence, valuable knowledge and the proper networking skills excel in life. I wish to thank everyone who helped make SIGGRAPH 2013 possible. And give a special thanks to my mentor Barbara for making my experience at SIGGRAPH memorable.

I had an amazing time at SIGGRAPH and I would love to come back next summer.

My experience at SIGGRAPH 2013 was better than I expected. At first I wanted to go thinking it was a college setting, I thought I was going to choose my classes and what times I went to them. Because of this I decided that I wasn’t going to go because I have a trip this following week and my mom’s birthday was this past Monday; however, I was fully convinced to go after I received lectures from my family. My mom decided to drive me to the Anaheim every morning and once I saw that it was at the Convention Center I was instantly thrilled. The reason being that I had attended another expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center called Anime Expo and I knew that I would get an experience similar to that.

I had trouble finding where I was going because I didn’t know that there were 3 floors and I was trying to find Ballroom E. Conveniently, my badge was equipped with a map/schedule so I found my way to the second best piece of information I gathered my whole time there. The speakers taught us about a programming system labeled as Corona and they also told us of a downloadable videogame programmer known as Project Anarchy. I have downloaded Project Anarchy to my laptop to use at my will. My next great moments were spent in the Art Gallery simply because I was impressed by all the advancement in technology and how these people used simple machinery to build complex equipment for the pleasure of all forms of media users, especially for gamers like myself.

My mentor was a pretty cool guy. Funny thing is that when I first saw his name in my email I pictured an African-American man with a shaved head, almost bald, then when I heard his voice Monday afternoon when he called me I picture a the same guy but taller and with bulky arms. Tuesday when I met him I felt weird because this man was a short, kind of chubby white guy with a bushy mustache and a balding head. Anyway, we went into the exhibition and he assisted me in gathering information for college which in vital knowledge since I’m going to be a senior in August. On a side note, while visiting these schools we met a man named Teyon Alexander. A self-taught artist who runs his own app for character designing and storyboarding, both in which I’m interested in, called Manga Studio. I talked to him for quite some time and I received a lot of helpful information that are currently helping me with my illustrations. Another man named Joshua, I don’t remember his last name, who work for DePaul University told me that the best way to follow my passion for art and to work in the field that I want equipped with a large and impressive portfolio is to work towards a BFA in Illustrations and Studio Arts. Brad, Teyon, and Joshua were the most helpful, influential people I met at SIGGRAPH.

I spent the rest of my days there at the Computer Animation Festival, Geek Bar, and the Art Gallery. I had an amazing time at SIGGRAPH and I would love to come back next summer, I’m going to let a group of people know about this program so they may have the same opportunity to have the experience that I had and to witness amazing techniques in the arts. Not completely related to the lectures but the prices on the food trucks was outrageous. Just because we’re between the Anaheim Convention Center, Hilton Hotel, and Clarion Hotel and near the Disneyland Resort doesn’t justify a $10 hot dog. On Wednesday, I literally walked all the way to Carl’s Jr., purchased a Big Carl, walked all the way back, and bought a cinnamon roll latte just to save money. I apologize if it seems like I’m complaining too much but that’s how I felt; however, I do commend and appreciate you all for providing food and beverages. Also, I’m not sure if the guitarist was part of what your provision but his music was phenomenal. Thank you for allowing me to attend SIGGRAPH 2013, I hope I get to attend next summer as well.

SIGGRAPH 2013 is a conference that I will never forget.

It had everything; from Computer Graphics, to Mobile Gaming. Since I am a high school student, much of the computer world was confusing and unclear to me, but after attending SIGGRAPH I had a better understanding of the components and a computer is capable of doing. One of my favorite Production Sessions was “The Making of Pixar’s ‘The Blue Umbrella’” because the author’s body language and tone was very inspiring and straight-forward. I assumed that it didn’t take much thinking and to produce a motion-picture like that, and that the budget was probably not that big, but I thought wrong. I learned that it took many animations before the final one was produced. I didn’t necessarily meet my mentor, but I did happen to tag along with another mentor that invited me to accompany him.

He discussed all the magnificent wonders that SIGGRAPH has to offer. He mentioned that the exhibits were the best because there were so many booths that gave the chance to give away fantastic prizes and I did in fact leave SIGGRAPH with many of them. One of my favorite booths in the exhibit was NVIDIA introducing the “NVIDIA Shield.” Since I myself admire games and consoles I thought it would be fun to try it out. One of the creators was there to give us an inside look of what the shield would be capable of. He informed me that I can preorder the console for guaranteed shipping; if only I had the money. The computer animation festival was also very intriguing because they showed short films of what computers have accomplished. I stayed for most of the game previews and was surprised how detailed and precise they needed to be in order to produce these types of games.

The “Intel Exhibitor Session” was also interesting because they showed what Intel was capable to do. There were random people employees around giving out external hard drives to anyone who was wearing a flashing “Intel” pin and bandana. Lucky for me, I was one of those people. Overall, my experience at SIGGRAPH was a great and very insightful. This is a conference that I will never forget.

This year’s SIGGRAPH convention inspired me to further explore the possibilities of the medium.

This year’s SIGGRAPH convention not only showcased some of the newest innovations in Animation, but also inspired me to further explore the possibilities of the medium. I learned about how technology and traditional media can seamlessly mesh to create outstanding films. Through the various meetings and panels, I was able to connect with people in the industry who shared a mutual appreciation for film and digital media. With numerous computer graphics and animation events to see, I was all but bored at the SIGGRAPH convention.

Upon first arriving to SIGGRAPH I was instantly overwhelmed by the amount the convention had to offer, from interactive emerging technologies exhibits to production panels. Though animation is my area of interest, I decided to attend a computer graphics presentation and, in the end, was very pleased with this decision. Side Effects’ and Pixar’s “Effects Omelets” presentation helped me better understand how to overcome obstacles when using computer software. I thought most of the presentation would go way over my head, but it actually did the opposite. Side Effects, Pixar and DreamWorks used software like Maya and Houdini, which I have used in the past, giving me an understanding of their process. I realized at this point that I didn’t have to limit myself to solely animation, but had a chance at the technical side of the industry, too.

On Monday, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Keynote Lecture, “Giants’ First Steps”, which included numerous animation directors such as David Silverman, Henry Selick, Pete Docter, and Mike Mitchell. Being a fan of all their films, it was interest seeing the panelists’ student films at the beginning of the presentation. All of the films were rough, unpolished and often inconsistent with animation style, but had a certain charm to them. It gives me inspiration (and brings me back to reality) to see that they were once animation students like me. What really got my attention during this lecture was how sincere each of the speakers was when they answered a question. They used examples from their experience in animation school to further support their tips for student filmmakers. All of their advice was practical and useful for the student like me preparing for a college animation course.

Through the many new technology demos at SIGGRAPH, I realized how much of it can be incorporated into an art setting. Canon’s augmented reality Kabuki theater was fantastic to experience in person and made me want to see it used with used in future installations, maybe even a 3D animated film. One aspect of the show that really caught my attention was the 3D printing technology. To see it in action, however, was a slow, yet mesmerizing experience. I never could have imagined this sort of technology to be possible, yet now it is a successful business being implemented in everything from medical science to printing machinery parts. I would love the opportunity to take advantage of this new technology in my films. I had seen it used before with Laika’s film productions and got a better sense of how it worked at their panel. With 3D powder printing technology there were able push the replacement stop motion medium, giving the characters a wide range of motion and facial expressions.

SIGGRAPH also gave me my first experience in networking and helped me connect with many other artists who share a passion for making animated films. From the numerous student volunteers to many industry professionals, I was able gain a sense of how to prepare for a career in animation. Through the Women in Animation meeting, I was able to get advice from many talented women who have had experience in the working for companies such as DreamWorks and Pixar. Plus, talking to the Student Volunteers helped me prepare for applying to colleges.

A student volunteer said at the beginning of SIGGRAPH, “You are lucky to have had this opportunity as a high school student. It puts you at a tremendous advantage!” At first, I didn’t realize just how tremendous this advantage would be. From tech demos to movie production panels, I gained a better sense of how animation and technology go hand in hand using software even I am familiar with. I feel ready to tackle the challenges of college and a career thanks to the advice helpful professionals and fellow students. Though at times it was overwhelming, I was able to pull through and felt I took full advantage of what SIGGRAPH had to offer.

I left having a deeper appreciation of the work that goes into computer animation and the computer graphics industry.

Upon arrival to the Anaheim Convention Center, the feeling of intimidation was clearly evident, frantically looking for the registration sector (when there were numerous signs directing you to the section), not knowing what to expect from such a large venue, and just being scared for the unknown. After receiving my badge and settling down, I decided to attend a course about mobile game creation. The course was set around the notion that mobile application creation was for everyone, and as a result I was became aware of the different game engines that are available to create mobile applications. The presenters spoke about how their software has evolved overtime, and with the implementations of different functionalities, the software is able to cultivate a more intuitive experience for the user. As the day went on, and I finally had a gist of what was to come, the feeling of comfort began to set in, and I knew that this was going to become something different.

Going into the courses and learning about the new and exciting innovations that are available, I was astonished to learn about all the different programs and people involved in a project. I was learning about all the software that is used in the process of creating a short, or the tedious process that the animators have to go through in order to get to their finished product. From sketching, to blocking, to animating, to rendering, the job that they must to in order to get to the finished sequence is difficult. The insight you gain from the talks, into the world of computer animation, gives you a different perspective into the making of films, and so when you re-watch the animations, you have a different sort of appreciation for the piece of art that the animators have created. The animators’ stories are an inspiration, knowing that they too -- run into so many issues that they have to work around, and invent new techniques in order to complete their work. From the people at Blizzard, (who I have a deep appreciation for), to the animators at Pixar Animation Studios, their words were awe-inspiring.

Going to the Keynote Session, and getting to hear from Pete Docter and other panelists was an insight into their minds and work, knowing where their inspiration came from when creating their work, and how they pushed through the rough patches, in order to ultimately complete their work. I have been a fan of Pete Docter’s work since “Monsters, Inc.” and hearing from him was a great moment.

One of the highlights of SIGGRAPH was the Emerging Technologies hall which was an environment to test out and get hands-on with some of the up incoming latest and greatest technology in the world of computer animation, from testing out the AIREAL system with tactile feedback, to taking a look at NVIDIA’s near-eye light field display prototype. I spent a great deal trying out new technology and finding out about how the innovations came about. The orators had great introductions and explanations of how the technology worked, how was developed and how it could be applied to different industries.

Going to the exhibition hall the first time was one of the moments that was clearly overwhelming, everything from the booths, to the displays, to the live demonstrations. It was a sight to behold, and one of the more memorable experiences throughout my time at the conference. With everyone running to the Pixar booth as the hall opened, and even finding myself uncontrollably rushing towards the progressively longer line in order to receive the package from the Pixar booth, it was a frighteningly great feeling. After roaming around for some time, I began to gravitate towards to the NVIDIA booth, since I was familiar with their hardware, and as soon I arrived--Project Shield caught my eye, and I began to test out the model for some time. I was surprised to see Project Logan on display, and from what I could tell it will be a great mobile GPU. One of the more peculiar approaches to 3D printing was by Mcor Technologies, demonstrating a low cost and full color method to 3D print using paper. There were also many companies demonstrating their latest applications suck as Unity 3D and Autodesk, Pixologic Inc., and many others.

Now, to a novice in the field of computer graphics, all the amount of information, from the new forms of developing technology, to the new techniques animators were currently utilizing, is albeit overwhelming, and I did become a bit dumbfounded at times, but 100% comprehension was not needed in order to appreciate the magnificence that was SIGGRAPH. From the intimidating Sunday morning to the nostalgic Thursday afternoon, SIGGRAPH really was an experience, one that I will cherish for a long time to come. Waking up on the first day, not knowing what to expect from the conference was a scary feeling, but once I arrived and was settled in, I know that this was a great decision, and waking up everyday at 4 A.M. and not leaving until late that very same day, was well worth the exhaustive nature of my days. Having the abundance of resources at the conference to have my questions answered and to gain an insight on the computer graphics industry, I left having a deeper appreciation of the work that goes into computer animation and the computer graphics industry. I will definitively be returning in the future to go through another SIGGRAPH experience.

My time at SIGGRAPH 2013 really opened my eyes to all kinds of things that I didn’t even know existed.

SIGGRAPH 2013 was a great experience for me. I learned so much and saw so many things that I would have never gotten to without this program. One of my favorite things was exploring the Studio and the Emerging Technologies. In the Emerging Technologies a bathtub with white water that responded to motion fascinated me. I was intrigued in a product called Illumiroom that expanded the media on a TV to the television’s surroundings. On one of the days, my student volunteer mentor showed me around the Studio. There, I had fun with the 3D scanning and printing/milling. While at the conference, I got scanned and then that scan of me was milled on one of the millers. It’s a cool little souvenir that will always remind me of my first SIGGRAPH. In the studio I also went to a booth where I made an awesome kaleidoscope.

Throughout my time at the conference I made sure to attend as many of the production sessions as I could. I was very interested in the sessions, which can probably be attributed to the fact that the production sessions showed how they did the special effects for movies that I had previously seen and enjoyed. Because I had already seen the movies, it was remarkable to see how I was completely fooled into thinking the digitally created scenes in the movies were real.

Another one of my favorite things at SIGGRAPH was the exhibition hall. I’m pretty sure I went to every single booth and picked up as many freebies as I could (including the elusive Renderman/Pixar walking teapot), but the free stuff wasn’t the only reason why I enjoyed the exhibits. I also liked being able to check out the fascinating products the companies made and how far those companies are advancing technology.

Though at some times I was very confused due to the fact that I am only familiar with computer science and not computer graphics, I learned a lot. Before the conference I had never heard of rendering, rigging, and many other terms, so it was nice to hear about those types of terms and become a bit familiar with them. And after learning these new terms, it was wonderful for me to see how everything came together in the computer animation festival. I went to the dailies and I also attended the electronic theater, which was spectacular.

My time at SIGGRAPH 2013 really opened my eyes to all kinds of things that I didn’t even know existed and I am very grateful to the Pioneer mentorship program which gave me the opportunity for this experience.

Overall I was amazed about the Art and Science placed throughout the Conference.

SIGGRAPH became an adventure that at first was just fun for individuals in the industry. I was wrong, in fact, coming from a high school graduate ongoing to study Computer Science I learned far more than before. I am happy I got to briefly know my mentor who is a Professor of Rochester Institute of Technology. I actually got to see the booth of the Institute and I was completely interested in learning more about the school before I got to SIGGRAPH. What made it interesting about the Conference was the Art Gallery and Exhibition. The Art Gallery introduced an appreciation of technology in forms of expressions of all interests. The Exhibition became the symbolic location of technological representatives in industries of various fields.

Personally, as in interest to become a Game Designer I went to booths such as ZBrush, Speedtree, and Qualcomm. I didn’t know actually that speedtree was one of the programs used in Gears of War, Halo 4 and Bungie’s new game Destiny. Beyond game development I got to see other programs that were of interest such as IntegrityWare and NewTeck LightWare. I got to see various production sessions such as The Blue Umbrella, Frozen, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, The Croods, OLM Digital and Monsters University. It was so fascinating how in all of these sessions the speakers really emphasized the steps it took to create the work. My favorite ones were The Croods and Monsters University (MU) because both sessions explained very well on the effect of visual design and effects in visual performance capture in the scene of earthquakes. For MU it was so mind-blowing how the animators brought personality to each Monster and the rendering of each particle of hair. As a 3D Modeler I know how painful it takes for something to render I just couldn’t imagine the hard work implemented Pixar had to go for MU. It was interesting to know that it had the most characters within a Pixar film but also the how one of the animators personality was placed onto Sully.

Overall I was amazed about the Art and Science placed throughout the Conference. I love how the Left side and Right side of technology have fused together in various forms. My favorite form is the AquaTop Water Display that was in the Art Gallery. This form of art was assembled through a Kinect and sensors under the water. If you don’t know what that it is check it through YouTube, but this display is run as sensors under the water that display lights. I got the chance to play the game and it was fun how I as the player would control these lights created by placing my hands in the water. The display had enemies of jellyfish objects moving and as the player you could either hold onto a visual display of a ball or tilt your hands to do another command. It just amazed me how the Kinect has been utilized in different forms of performances in games. Coming to SIGGRAPH I learned so much from the Left Side of technology and how it is being placed in development. As a student barely understanding the concept of computer science I actually grasped so much of how a developer thinks in terms of understanding other technology papers and utilizing them in their own work. I was so happy at the end of SIGGRAPH because I kept in touch with representatives at the Job Fair. Everyone was so different in the industry that made me realize the fun and adventure being in the field of technology. I recommend friends and acquaintances to learn more about the opportunities and appreciations of what is out there in fields of the sciences and arts. They correspond together in an informative yet visual revolution.

Because of my SIGGRAPH experience I’m considering following a career path into the animation industry.

The 2013 SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics conference was an impressive experience. I felt totally unprepared when I first walked into the Anaheim Convention Center. I was bewildered by the number of people there, many of which came from all over the world. Being more of a right brain person myself, I was confused by all the technical jargon. However, SIGGRAPH proved to be a priceless experience to me.

On Monday the first thing I went to was a talk titled Effects Omelette. I learned about the complications of creating and destroying a city, simulating fluids, forming frost and making bubbles that interact as a set. All the technical terms were over my head, but I was able to understand enough to realize just how difficult it is to replicate things that look and react like they do in real life. It seems to me that the goal of the technicians and programmers is to create software that has tools that are simple enough for the artist to use but still making everything look realistic.

My favorite part of the conference was the Keynote Session: Mark Davis Lecture: Giant’s First steps. Nine giants of the animation industry: Ron Clements, Pete Doctor, Eric Goldberg, Kevin Lima, Mike Mitchell, Chris Sanders, Henry Selick, and David Silverman, came and discussed their student films. It was interesting to hear about how they created them. One thing they said that stuck with me was that the most valuable skill to have is the ability to convey a story because that’s what people come to see. They also talked about how important it is to do other activities because they help to keep wells of creativity full. It was inspiring to listen to them talk about what it takes to be successful in the industry, determination, tenacity, vision, and pushing beyond one idea.

I attended several Production sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Production session for Man of Steel I was surprised at the amount of CG there is live-action films. The computer graphics industry is much bigger than I previously thought; there are many career paths to choose from. In the Production Sessions put on by DreamWorks and Disney I was dazzled by the detail that is put into feature length animated films, creating believable characters and putting them in landscapes that they interact with.

The most valuable thing I learned is that there are many options in the Computer Graphics industry and I don’t have to choose now. In the next six years there will likely be many more options because of the rate of growth and advancement in technology. Animation is a thriving and rewarding industry. The idea of creation fascinates me; because of my SIGGRAPH experience I’m considering following a career path into the animation industry.

The experience of attending SIGGRAPH was completely magical.

From the get go, I experienced a overload in information, wonder and awe. Never in my limited life have I experienced such an environment in which all I could do was stand, struck by wonderment and delight as I experience the several ideas and mechanics that drive the development of my favorite titles. One could simply stand there for hours on end and still not be able to fathom the intellect and ingenuity present in that building. SIGGRAPH 2013 was the greatest event I have ever had the pleasure to attend to in my life.

From the moment I walked into the convention at Sunday, I was simply struck with awe. The awesome feeling of being surrounded by your idols, and the awful feeling of just being there as you come to several epiphanies at once. These are the people I will work with or for in the future, and I needed to make myself look presentable and professional. But beyond that was my want to learn from them. I sat down session after session that saturday trying to comprehend each and every technique and technology they demonstrate. From the several gaming engine demonstrations to the technical paper fast forward, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with information I thought I could never experience.

The next day was a lot more soothing and calm. I met up with my mentor and several of the other mentees. To my delight, a couple of them I had been friends with in Video Game Design class before. We decided to team up and go through the Day Time Selects together, analyzing the animations before us for their content and underlying techniques. I was even able to spot a short that used the “Hero’s Journey” archetype. Afterwards, we attended the Virtual Reality discussion, and how the Omni and Oculus Rift are being used in conjunction with each other. Next we spent most of the day immersing ourselves inside the Emerging Technologies booth, I even had a 3D scan of myself made. I got to network with some university students as well. I also watched the Electronic Art Theater and watched all of the award winning animation shorts and video effects breakdowns.

Tuesday came around and I attended the Advances in Real Time Rendering and soaked in the wealth of knowledge those showed. I then took that day to explore the Exhibits. I did not get the chance to receive the Pixar Teapot that day, but I gained a deeper knowledge of the intricacies of rendering realistic computer images in real time through complicated algorithms I then spent the evening watching the Real Time Live! Presentation. I learned more about the technologies they used in creating a interactable three-dimensional world.

Wednesday was a interesting day. I met up with my mentor and talked about what I’ve learned so far and further refine the details I might have missed. It was a very informative conversation. I then sat through the Unity Technology talk After that I spent the day going through the rest of the exhibits and Emerging Technologies booth. The Dailies where the best part of that day. Learning how they solved several problems that came in the pipeline was amusing and informative.

Then came the final day, Thursday. I wrapped it up by trying my luck in some of the giveaways while connecting with the people manning the booths. I also attended some sessions by zBrush and other software vendors giving their demonstrations at the exhibits. I then attended all the sessions concerning Pixar’s Monsters University, including the final session “It’s Raining Monsters” at the end of the day.

The experience of attending SIGGRAPH was completely magical. I had never attended anything quite like it, and I am glad and grateful that I had the opportunity to attend. I would like to thank everyone in the Pioneer Mentoring Program for making this possible for me, and I promise that the information I’ve learned here will not go to waste as I continue my studies with the goal of giving back to the world of computer generated graphics and maybe in the near future, I’ll have a talk in SIGGRAPH.

I can declare with certainty that SIGGRAPH 2013 has changed my life and my future.

I now have the honor of declaring that I have received a scholarship to THE biggest computer graphics convention IN THE WORLD. SIGGRAPH 2013 went well beyond my expectations of what I had ever anticipated it to be. The experience given to me there has opened me up to all the endless opportunities that the world of technology has to offer, the ability to revolutionize technology and the world. SIGGRAPH has stirred the inspiration in me to become a computer programmer that will one day make a difference. Although I only had a small exposure to computer graphics in general before the convention, I was determined to learn everything I could at SIGGRAPH, and it has made a lasting impact on what I plan to strive for in my own future.

The first session I attended was an introduction to computer graphics. Many of the concepts introduced were rather complex and complicated, due to my lack of knowledge in computer graphics. However, still being a high school student, I know that I have plenty of time to grow and learn before I can fully understand the concepts shown. Although I wasn’t able to understand the specifics of what was taught, I was able to get a general feeling for all of it. Attending many other different sessions throughout the convention, I was given an overall exposure to everything that computer graphics had to offer.

The events I enjoyed most though, were the Production Sessions. In these sessions, several films, such as “Iron Man 3”, Pixar’s “The Blue Umbrella,” “Epic,” and “Man of Steel,” were presented by the producers’ very own computer graphic designers who directly worked in the actual graphics and animation. Each session showed the different, and similar, techniques and software used to create these films, and sometimes, even the storyline behind the films themselves. So many scenes and aspects of the films were created with animation that it absolutely amazed me as to how essential these graphic designers were in the creation of these films.

Another very interesting and fun part of SIGGRAPH was Emerging Technologies and the Exhibition. Various companies that vied to get support and popularity for their products and company as a whole displayed their latest technology concerning computer graphics. What struck me most was just how often these types of technology were used in the real world. Intel, Western Digital, Canon, Pixar Animations, Epson, NVIDIA, and hundreds of other companies were present at the Exhibition and I was able to gain insight by talking to the representatives and listening to the assorted sessions given. However, I found 3D technology to be the most interesting. After seeing the uses of it in real life and what it could do to make things more efficient, I am confident that 3D technology (such as 3D printers) will come to transform the world in the near future.

Along the way, I was being constantly guided by my mentor who gave me tips as to which particular events I should attend, and he patiently and knowledgeably answered the many questions that came up. Most valuable was the advice my mentor gave me in my plans for the future. He even went out of his way to introduce me to several of his friends who willingly helped me by sharing their experiences of what it was like to be a graphics designer/programmer and explaining what they did to get there when they were my age.

Thank you for this amazing opportunity. I can declare with certainty that SIGGRAPH 2013 has changed my life and my future.

Attending the 2013 SIGGRAPH Conference at the Anaheim Convention Center was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

When I was accepted to be apart of the Pioneer Mentoring Program, I was excited but I had no clue what the conference was even about. Prior to attending SIGGRAPH I knew that I was somewhat interested in digital media but I wasn’t sure on the exact field. After driving for an hour to Anaheim for four days straight, I had a clear mind on what I wanted my career to be. Although I witnessed and discovered many things I never would have thought of within those four days, those four days were the best.

The exhibition room, known as the Emerging Technologies section, was by far my favorite part of SIGGRAPH. I spent most of my time there. Just in this room alone, I experienced so much. I met numerous of cool people from different industries all over the world. I even got to play with technology that isn’t even out yet or fully built. Almost all of the equipment blew my mind! The Illumiroom really caught my attention. With the Illumiroom, you can change the setting of any room in your house while playing a video game or simply watching television. For example, if you are playing a game with violence, your room will adjust to that game and it actually looks like you are inside of that game. Another interesting thing that I did at the conference is get my body scanned. The end result was amazing! My body was 3d-scanned into a computer and I actually got a 3d small sculpture of my body.

SIGGRAPH 2013 was an overall great conference. I plan to go again next year to learn about more things. I am extremely grateful that I had the chance and opportunity to attend SIGGRAPH.

SIGGRAPH is truly a priceless experience like no other and it blew my mind away.

The 5 days that I spent at SIGGRAPH were truly memorable and unlike anything I've ever experienced. I've never heard of SIGGRAPH before my teacher told me about it and never even attended a conference before so this was a completely new experience for me. Describing each and every thing that amazed me during the conference would take forever so I will do my best to describe only the most fascinating parts of the conference. Overall, I can say that the conference was not only mesmerizing and motivating, but it was also helpful and informative.

Before the actual convention started, I browsed through all the activities and made a schedule that I would follow for the entire conference. I knew that I couldn't attend every single event so I had to plan accordingly. Some amazing parts of the convention were the Studio Workshop, Emerging Technologies and Computer Animation Festival but my favorite had to be the Exhibition.

The Studio Workshop was great because of its "hands on" approach to learning and designing and allowed me to engage in the activity rather than just listen to a lecture or speech. Inside the Studio Workshop/ Emerging Technologies hall, I was given the opportunity to create a kaleidoscope in the form of a cube, made almost completely from a computer and printer. I found this fascinating because I never knew that a printer could cut such fine and precise lines. I was even allowed to keep it as a souvenir for my experience here!

In the Emerging Technologies display room, I was also allowed to test out many new and upcoming technologies such as a bathtub you could play games in, an exercise machine that simulated flying a plane and rowing a boat, and a chair that gave the feeling of motion. All of these new inventions were new to me and I didn't even know that they existed. Every student volunteer or booth member at SIGGRAPH was inviting and sociable and made sure that I understood what was going on so I got the most out of the conference.

The Computer Animation Festival was another great aspect to this conference because I was able to see the best animations of today and learn how the directors and film makers were able to create them. In one talk, Saschka Unsed, the director of Pixar's The Blue Umbrella talked about how he got the vision for his short film and took me on a journey through the making of it. His speech was motivating and also humorous, and gave me a look at how computer animation professionals are able to craft amazing masterpieces using their creative and visionary minds and the latest technology.

While all of these different parts of SIGGRAPH blew my mind away, the most informative and engaging part had to be the Exhibition. The Exhibition Hall was an enormous hall room that was bigger much much bigger than all of the other display rooms and hall rooms I visited combined! I was looking forward to the Exhibition since day one and when I first stepped into the room, I was spellbound by the sheer space and number of booths inside of it. The huge crowds everywhere I stepped made me more excited and interested in the dozens of booths. Luckily, I was able to visit almost all of the booths during my five days here and learned a plethora of information from huge companies such as Intel, NVIDIA, and Western Digital. My favorite booths were Intel and NVIDIA because the employees working there were accommodating and friendly and allowed me to test out what they had while informing me about it. At the NVIDIA booth, I tested out their newest gaming device, the NVIDIA Shield before it was released and also given the opportunity to pre order it. After visiting almost every one of million booths, I entered numerous giveaways and even given free products such as T-shirts, mouse pads, CDs, and phone chargers so that I will remember their company in the future. But even more valuable than all of the goodies I was given, was the priceless knowledge and motivation to pursue a career in a computer related field because of the endless possibilities that you can do. By visiting the Exhibition Hall, my major choice was reinforced and my mind was enlightened.

SIGGRAPH is truly a priceless experience like no other and it blew my mind away. I wouldn't have gained all the knowledge that I did without my mentor, student volunteer, and the entire Pioneer Mentoring Program and I would like to say thank you for making this undoubtedly, the most memorable experience this summer and providing me with knowledge from some of the biggest professionals in the business. Without a doubt, I would definitely attend another SIGGRAPH in the future!

SIGGRAPH was one of the best things I could have attended this summer.

SIGGRAPH was one of the best things I could have attended this summer. I applied due to a recommendation not knowing what to expect. All I really knew about it was that it had to do with technology and that was about it. All I had was a broad explanation and an open mind to learn and do what was necessary. SIGGRAPH turned out to be one of my greatest experiences that really opened up my mind.

In the beginning, it was a bit frightening and overwhelming, especially because of the obvious age difference between me and the people there. I expected a lot of more people in my age range to be there. Based on the emails I got prior to the event, I expected a lot of younger people making friends and reuniting with old ones. When I got there I was surprised to see a lot of older people who I would have thought to be administrators rather than attendees. I was at the point where I thought I should leave because I was at the wrong event or the event was simply not meant for me.

Once I sat in on the first course, which was Mobile Game Creation for Everyone, I felt relieved as it was something I could understand. Although I haven’t tried to apply what I learned yet because the lack of an internet connection makes it harder for me, the presentations made it easy to understand but were also elaborate. That was when I realized I could actually pull off being an outlier. Being so young felt more of a perk than a negative factor, at least in the sense that I was learning what they were earlier in life.

The second thing I did was go into the Emerging Technologies Hall. The exhibits were shocking to a mind that had never experienced something like that before. Being able to see and interact with technologies that aren’t even in the market and are currently in development is always something you want to experience. Getting that opportunity at SIGGRAPH was yet another pleasant surprise. The workshops were really entertaining but I did leave with a desire to do more there. I didn’t get to have the full experience in “The Tampa to Anaheim Soup-to-Nuts Hackshack” booth but sometimes you have to compromise. I’m not much of an art fanatic so the art gallery was pleasant but didn’t catch my attention quite as much as other things in the event did.

When Monday came and I was to meet my mentor I was extremely anxious. I knew that my mentor worked for Boeing and becoming his mentee was the greatest thing that could have happened to me. I want to become an Aeronautical Engineer when I get older so meeting people like my mentor is definitely key to my success. Not only was my mentor a Beoing employee, which really caught my attention, but he was a great individual as well. In my perspective, he went above and beyond with his duties as a mentor. He was interested in my personal connections and how well I did in and out of the event. You don’t get many of those kinds of people where I come from; rarely does anyone ask you what you want as a career, much less believe that you can succeed.

My mentor did much more than teach me of what he knew to help me out as a person and in my future career. He made sure I had other people which I could also use as resources to further my connections. Other than introducing me to some great people who were part of making SIGGRAPH happen, he introduced me to several other people that he had no obligation in doing. Among them was an old friend of his, an architect, who he called and made a meeting to introduce us both. He talked to me about some of the things he had to deal with that were similar to the things Engineers work with. Once I told my mentor that I wanted to go to Columbia University he looked for other old friends of his to get me in touch with that particular school. He introduced me to a Boeing employee who just graduated from Columbia and a Columbia professor to give me an insight on what I needed to do and what to expect. If that’s not going above and beyond, then nothing is. My mentor is one of the most extraordinary people I have had the pleasure to meet.

For the rest of the week, I was guided by my mentor on what to do at SIGGRAPH and also to explain complex concepts. I attended many of the technical papers offered at SIGGRAPH. Among them were things I was already interested in and things I could use later as an Engineer. I attended papers which included concepts such as photo manipulation, shadow inconsistency, geometry, topology, meshes, image based reconstruction, designing, building structures and layouts, among others. It was all rather understandable except when it got to really complex math, but I accept that’s my fault and nobody else’s. Some of the terminology was unknown to me but that was solved by simply pulling out my phone and looking up the definition. The technical papers were one of the most interesting things I saw at SIGGRAPH.

I developed a new interest in programming due to a presentation of a technical paper at SIGGRAPH. I had never dealt with programming computer chips and when I saw how simple it can get but how interesting you can make it, I had a new love. I have been learning in school to do code in Java but that is nothing compared to the things the speaker did with an Arduino chip with such ease. Programming is definitely now something I have a keen interest for and might even consider studying further in college, thanks to the technical paper.

Throughout the entire week, I had mixed feelings on what I felt about being at SIGGRAPH. I felt like it was a really smart decision to be there because, as I said, it is a head start. However, I felt really dull minded at times when I didn’t understand the math or how they came upon their conclusions. It might be that I have the habit of questioning everything I learn and feeling the need to question everything with logic, but the feeling of being confused was really unpleasant.

Another thing that did stir up my emotions was the people that I met on my own. I met one guy from Apple after sitting beside him during a technical paper. I never thought I would even get to meet anyone from Apple and there I was. Another person I got to really talk to was a Japanese Graphic Designer from Sega. He was really enthusiastic and helpful. During our conversation, he asked me from what company I was coming from. I was really confused but I realized that everyone else there but me was a genius in at least one branch of technology. That made me feel really good when I realized that I was really in the middle of a whole bunch of geniuses but also made me realize that I have a long way to go. This did, however, give me more incentive to someday be at the same intellectual level of these other attendees.

SIGGRAPH was definitely worth the daily 2-hour bus ride from my home in Downtown LA to the Anaheim Convention Center. Though I had to get up at 5 am to catch the bus, I did so daily so that I wouldn’t miss any of the presentations that occurred in the morning. The people I met, the things I learned, and the experience I got to have were all worth the week long struggle. I am looking forward to attending SIGGRAPH, again, in later years. Thank you all for this opportunity and I hope that this event keeps on happening throughout the years, as it has, so that someday I get to participate in the preparation of this event.