a a a


Vol.33 No.2 May 1999

Chapters Wrap Up; Minneapolis/St. Paul Profile

Scott Lang
Director for Professional Chapters
Colleen Cleary
Professional Chapters Editor

May 99 Columns
Real-Time Interactive Graphics Education

Professional Chapters
Previous Professional Chapters Column Next Professional Chapters Column

The Boston ACM SIGGRAPH chapter hosted its second annual Job Fair and Exposition in January.  More than 250 people came (up 30 percent from the year before) to meet with 11 companies about employment opportunities in the Boston area. Guests were also able to attend one of two screenings of the SIGGRAPH 98 Electronic Theater.

The Central Israel ACM SIGGRAPH chapter hosted a technical meeting in March with presentations on a variety of different topics.  Attendees could find out about “Morphing Polyhedral Shapes with Scattered Features,” “Texture Movies: Statistical Learning of Time-Varying Textures,” “The Configuration Space Method for Kinematic Tolerance Analysis,” “Morphing Planar Triangulations” or “Recognition of 3D Models through Integration of Processing Techniques in Reverse Engineering.” A session was also presented on the architecture and applications of the Silicon Graphics 320 Visual Workstation.

DC ACM SIGGRAPH hosted its first annual all-networking event so that members of the chapter and the local graphics community could get together and socialize. This ability to meet with others from your local community and network is one of the greatest benefits that the SIGGRAPH Professional Chapters have to offer.

The Houston ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter was the proud host of the SIGGRAPH Traveling Art Show for the month of April. Special panels featuring local digital artists were scheduled to coincide with the show’s arrival. The Art Institute of Houston helped to underwrite the show during its stay. 

In January, LA ACM SIGGRAPH hosted Dreamworks SKG for a presentation on The Prince of Egypt. The meeting focused on those sequences that emphasized the combination of both hand-drawn cel animation and computer-generated imagery and included discussions with the artists involved with the film. February saw a visit from Pixar and “The Making of A Bug’s Life.” Pixar actually gave talks at four chapters during February and March; for more details on what the presentation included, look under the San Francisco ACM SIGGRAPH listing in this column. March was a very busy month for the LA chapter, drawing more than 600 people to its second annual Career Boot Camp on Sunday, March 7. This event gives people the opportunity to find out what it takes to break into the computer animation industry by providing guidance from experts in the field on resumes, demo reels, networking, interviewing and internships. The day before this event, the chapter held an Educators Boot Camp to get educators together for networking and to give them a sneak preview of The Electronic Schoolhouse, a program at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference. Finally, a panel entitled “CGI Innovators: Past, Present and Future Directions” brought together Thad Beier, Jeff Kleiser and Lance Williams to talk about where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

Minneapolis-St. Paul ACM SIGGRAPH worked on two events this past quarter that involved collaboration with other organizations. In February, it presented “The Making of Monsters of Grace” at the Walker Art Center. Jeff Kleiser spoke about how “Monsters” uses the technology of feature films and theme park rides to create a new adventure in theater entertainment. Scenes are rendered on a high-speed network of 10 multiprocessor SGI Origin and Challenge servers bringing 40 processors, 10GB of RAM and 150GB of storage space to bear on the challenge of producing film-resolution images for more than two hours of 70mm film. The chapter’s March event was a panel co-sponsored with IICS. Entitled “Designing for Interactive Media I: Form vs. Function,” three speakers explored how Web design and technology effect each other. Navigation flow, download speeds and plug-ins were just some of the topics covered during this evening.

In January, the NYC ACM SIGGRAPH chapter was fortunate to present the NYC public premiere of Blue Sky Studios Academy Award-winning animated short film, Bunny.  After screening a 35mm version of the piece, Chris Wedge and others from Blue Sky took us through the process of animating a cranky, old rabbit and pesky moth. In February, “Interact With This!” featured three speakers discussing their past and current interactive media projects for both the Web and CD-ROM. March was a particularly busy month with three diverse events scheduled for our members. On March 4, Merce Cunningham spent an evening talking about “Hand Drawn Spaces,” a virtual dance installation which premiered at SIGGRAPH 98.  After this, he and his collaborators, Paul Kaiser and Shelly Eshkar, gave us a preview of a new piece they’re working on entitled “Biped” that is scheduled to premiere this May. On March 10, the chapter hosted “An Evening With ECDC.” ECDC is the East Coast Digital Consortium, a collection of companies that has joined together to promote the expansion and visibility of the New York area as a center for high-end digital production. Companies that gave presentations that night included R/GA Digital Studios, Click 3x, Blue Sky Studios and Curious Pictures. The month closed out with the fourth chapter presentation of Pixar’s “The Making of A Bug’s Life.” For more information on this event, look at the San Francisco chapter listing in this column. 

The North Carolina Research Triangle ACM SIGGRAPH chapter is in the process of restarting after a period of inactivity.  The chapter held its first meeting in March and screened the SIGGRAPH 98 Electronic Theater tape. Plans are underway for more meetings in the coming months. If you are interested in this or any other chapter, you should take a look at the chapter directory that follows this column for current contact information.

In January, Pittsburgh ACM SIGGRAPH presented an “Introduction to 3D Game Design and Technology” with speakers Keith Z. Leonard and Tom Holmes of Dreamforge Intertainment, Inc. Topics included 3D hardware in the consumer space, software vs. hardware rendering, 3D shooter-style game technology (as in Quake and Unreal), OpenGL rendering and the future of 3D in games. The chapter hosted Arthur Wetzel of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) in March to discuss “Image Processing and 3D Reconstruction Applied to Visible Human and Prostate Studies.” The goals of these two projects are quite different but there is a common ground of problems and techniques that are applicable to both due to the large sizes of volumetric data.

San Diego ACM SIGGRAPH presented an evening with Rick Beach, former SIGGRAPH Editor-in-Chief, where he spoke about his experiments with color and hypermedia documents in the SIGGRAPH proceedings. Some of his war stories apply to situations found today in document management systems, user interface designs, navigation systems and work practice studies - as well as color and hypertext. In March, the chapter met at the Pixelism Digital Art Exhibit, which featured local digital artists and nationally-acclaimed autistic savant artists. The evening concluded with a tour of the Blavatt’s Studio.

In February, the San Francisco ACM SIGGRAPH chapter hosted the third of Pixar’s four chapter presentations of “The Making of A Bug’s Life.” From a technical standpoint, A Bug’s Life represents one of the most sophisticated and advanced applications of computer animation to date. Pixar’s proprietary software gave the filmmakers a greater level of creative freedom and the flexibility to do things that were not possible for Toy Story. The presentation covered the major components of the film: art, story, editorial, layout, modeling, animation, shading and paint, crowds and effects, rendering and lighting. Bill Reeves spoke at all four presentations; other speakers included Rich Quade, Sharon Calahan, Rick Sayre, Glenn McQueen, Janet Lucroy and Bill Cone.

Seattle ACM SIGGRAPH hosted David C. Frederick in a February presentation of SGI’s new series of NT workstations. In March, the chapter held a talk on DirectAnimation, a real-time multimedia engine incorporating 2D and 3D animation, video and audio through an event-driven behavioral model (and/or via streaming inputs over the Web). Time is a first-class object in the DirectAnimation system so all animation is described as occurring over time, rather than as a discrete collection of static moments in time. 

In January, the Silicon Valley ACM SIGGRAPH chapter screened the SIGGRAPH 98 Electronic Theater tape for its members. The February meeting featured animator Lorie Loeb speaking about “Applying Traditional Animation Principles to Computer Animation.” In March, the chapter hosted John Funge of the Intel Graphics Research Group speaking about “Cognitive Modeling for Computer Graphics and Animation.” This talk examined how to build computer characters with the wits to better match their human directors, collaborators and adversaries. Knowledge representation, commonsense reasoning, sensing and high-level control of characters were just some of the topics covered.

Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH visited Immersion Studios in January as part of its program schedule. This company’s specialty is creating real-time, interactive experiences using the latest in infotainment and entertainment technologies. In February, the chapter worked with the University of Toronto to present “The Making of A Bug’s Life” with Bill Reeves. This was the second of Pixar’s four chapter presentations - for more information, look at the San Francisco chapter listing in this column. Also in February, Apple Canada presented a showcase of its new line of G3 hardware, focusing on announcements from MacWorld on items such as FireWire, OpenGL and the Mac OS 10 server.

Professional Chapter Profile

Minneapolis/St. Paul ACM SIGGRAPH

We’re premiering a new section of this column called Professional Chapter Profile. Each issue, the editors hope to give you an in-depth look at one of the SIGGRAPH Professional Chapters. 

This issue’s featured chapter is Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) – the Twin Cities chapter. Many thanks to the current Chair, Stan Bissinger, and Mary Kay Wechter, the current Web Page Developer and a long-time volunteer in the chapter, for providing the following material.

Scott Lang [SL]: When was the chapter first formed?

Minneapolis/St. Paul: The chapter probably came into existence during the 1983 - 84 year. Mark Feyereisen, Dick Mueller, Roman Verosco, Mary Kay Wechter, Larry Lamb, Don Bagus and Kirsten Rowe were some of the earliest members and were very active in helping to make SIGGRAPH 84 a reality in Minneapolis. Some highlights from the 1984 program year follow. 

June 21, 1984 - Meeting at the 3M campus in St. Paul. Jerry Tapley and Dave Bixler presented the 3M BFA Paint System. Features: 5 1/2” floppies, color monitor, monochrome prompting screen, 15” square digitizing pad and hand-held stylus. Resident artist Pam Belding created imagery using dozens of menu combinations: scaling, distorting, mirroring and cycling through 256 eye-popping colors.

July 24-26, 1984 - SIGGRAPH 84 at the Minneapolis Auditorium. Jack Skogen designed an aquatennial float with a computer graphics theme after the MSP chapter was approached by SIGGRAPH in January 1984. Working with Dennis Johnson of Parade Productions, he created a float with dramatic geometric shapes, bright vivid colors and animation. It was seen in both the Grand Parade and the Torchlight Parade. 

September 20, 1984 - Computer graphics education in MSP.

October 18, 1984 - Meeting hosted by Craig Zaligson and Mary McDuffie at Kalvar Corporation. The Adgraphix 2000 graphics system was demonstrated. 

November 15, 1984 - A technical program coordinated by Jim Schwartz, Daisy Wong and John Stolte. 

Early officers were Mark Feyereisen, Chair; Jim Schwartz, Co-chair; Tom Vogelsberg, Treasurer; Tom Borrup, Secretary; and Kirsten Rowe, Resource/Archivist.

SL: When was the chapter officially chartered by ACM?

MSP: In 1994, Mark Feyereisen and Dick Mueller approached Stan Bissinger about taking over as the local chapter head. The first problem he encountered was that the chapter, no matter how active, was not officially chartered. During Stan’s first year, he worked closely with Dick and Mark to keep up with the monthly events and publishing the biannual newsletter. He soon found that Mary Kay was still interested in working on the newsletter. Not too long after joining forces with Mary Kay, he was told about a promising new programmer who was coming to work at the Minnesota Super Computer Research Center from Michigan named Steve Demlow. After talking to him at the 1994 Minnesota Electronic Theater (MET), he agreed to participate as the Secretary-Treasurer. Steve proved to be just right for getting the chapter chartered since he had previous experience with another chapter. In 1994, the chapter was officially chartered, after operating for more than 10 years.

SL: Does the chapter have a particular mission or set of goals?

MSP: In addition to the formal mission and goals of the SIGGRAPH organization, we feel that it is important to use the meetings as a way for graphic professionals in the area to get acquainted with what is available outside of their own niche. The MSP chapter meetings tend to be corporate sponsored and the entities that host the meetings usually take the opportunity to tour the group through their facility, review recently completed projects and demonstrate some facet of their operation that they feel is appropriate for the audience. Since there is so much in the way of new, emerging technologies coming down the pike, it helps to be exposed to an area you might not otherwise have time to explore. For students, it is of course an excellent way to network and get job leads. 

SL: Who are your officers? Are there any other individuals that you’d like to mention?

MSP: The current officers are: Stan Bissinger, Chair; Tom Doeden, Vice-Chair; Steve Demlow, Secretary/Treasurer. Mary Kay Wechter is our Web Page Developer. Tim Desley has been very helpful with the local chapter, especially when he was at Cray, and Lee Anderson, creator of Up Front (architectural software package) and head of the architecture department at the University of Minnesota has also been a great resource. Of course Larry Lamb, Don Bagus and Mike Jones have been the major sources of inspiration for the graphics community here. 

SL: How many members does the chapter have? How much does it cost to become a member?

MSP: Our mailing database has about 200 addresses. Membership in the local chapter is $20 per year if you are not a member of ACM or SIGGRAPH; $15 per year if you are.  Admittance to all monthly meetings is free and open to the public.

SL: What types of events do you run during the year? How many do you usually run? What is the range of attendance of people for your events over the course of a year?

MSP: We do about seven events a year - three in the Fall and four in the Spring. Our events are mostly corporate-sponsored and hinge on the tradition of telling a story about a product or a process. We also on occasion team up with IICS or ITVA to co-sponsor an event. For example, The Minnesota Electronic Theater is co-sponsored with the Minnesota Film Board.  Our average attendance at an event is about 20 people. We have had as many as 50, and as few as four, but remember, we do have nasty storms here on occasion. 

SL: Do you host special events on a regular basis?

MSP: We always start our Fall schedule at the Minnesota Supercomputer Research Center (MSC). Those that have been to the SIGGRAPH conference report back about what they saw there and the MSC staff demonstrates something related to their work at the center. We top this meeting off with a screening of the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater tape and tours of the facility. 

Two months later, we get together at the Fine Line Music Café for the MET (Minnesota Electronic Theater). This event has proven to be one of the most anticipated events of the year for those that work in the animation industry here. Next year will be the 10th annual MET, and attendance for this event averages between 500 to 700 people. The type of work presented here is similar to the work shown at the SIGGRAPH conference with the difference being that all work has been completed in Minnesota within the last year.  At first it was only a few agencies that used SGI systems, but over the last four years it has been opened up to all platforms.  Also, student work is now accepted. It’s a time when people who spend most of the year bidding against each other on jobs or haggling over the smallest details regarding a piece of hardware get together to watch some really great animation. It is a truly unique event.

SL: Do you publish a newsletter - either printed or electronic?

MSP: We don’t publish a newsletter any more. The first year or so we did one for the Fall schedule and another for the Spring, but once we got the website up, we decided to forego a printed newsletter. People seem to like the fact that we are easy to access on line. Over the last year we have picked up on the use of postcard reminders for specific events but the majority of our communication with our membership is handled via the Web and email.

Still-life with Colleen
Colleen Cleary
Orange County Sheriff's Office
6590 Amory Court
Winter Park, FL 32792

Tel: +1-407-836-3963
Fax: +1-407-836-9079

Scott Lang
Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology
200 Hackensack Avenue
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Tel: +1-201-343-6000, ext. 3380

Colleen Cleary has been Computer Graphics Professional Chapters Editor for four years. She manages technical projects for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, including a new computer aided dispatch for 911 and records management systems, all of which involve some form of computer graphics. She has been involved with computer graphics for 10 years, having her first taste while working in the airline industry. Colleen credits attendance at a SIGGRAPH conference for her enthusiastic interest in computer graphics.

In addition to her work on Computer Graphics, Colleen has chaired and co-chaired the Orlando chapter and served on the ACM SIGGRAPH Professional Chapters Committee. Colleen welcomes contributions from chapter members worldwide for possible publication in Computer Graphics.

Scott Lang is SIGGRAPH Director for Professional Chapters and a Computer Visualization Specialist at the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (AAST) in Hackensack, NJ. He teaches video production at the high school level and also works with students on projects involving computer animation and website design.