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Computer Animation Festival

Conference: Sunday, 8 August - Thursday, 12 August
Exhibition: Tuesday, 10 August - Thursday 12 August

The Facts
  • A record 643 submissions were submitted to the Computer Animation Festival.
  • Each piece was reviewed and selected by a jury of industry professionals based on creative and technical excellence.
  • The following is a breakdown of the 83 accepted pieces by category:
    30 Electronic Theater selections
    53 Animation Theater selections
    In addition, 18 selections for Art Gallery
    40 total international selections
    27 student selections
  • A truly international show with artists from around the globe.
A Quote from the SIGGRAPH 2004 Computer Animation Festival Chair

"Selections for 2004 demonstrate the strength, breadth and depth of our industry," said Chris Bregler, SIGGRAPH 2004 Computer Animation Festival Chair from New York University. "The creative work -- storyline development, humor, entertainment value -- is so fascinating and captivating that viewers quickly push the technological feats on screen into the secondary sphere of their minds. This year's competition was so fierce that we had to turn down phenomenal entries that would have been certain selections in previous years. In addition, we are pleased to see such a magnificent international and student response including the selection of a student piece for 'Best Animated Short.' We also saw some dramatic special effects advances that are certain to push our stretched technical boundaries even further and clearly demonstrate that this is truly the best in our industry at this very moment."

A Few Highlights from the SIGGRAPH 2004 Computer Animation Festival

Birthday Boy (Best Animated Short)
Sejong Park, Australian Film, Television and Radio School

The scene is Korea in 1951. It is little Manuk's birthday, and he is playing on the village streets, imagining his father's daily life as a soldier at the frontlines. After playing, Manuk returns home to find a recently delivered parcel. Thinking it is a present for him, Manuk opens the parcel, and its contents change his life forever.

The Jury awarded Best Animated Short to "Birthday Boy" because of its captivating and expert storytelling and filmmaking. According to the jury, it is a phenomenal film on its merits alone, but even more impressive given that Park is still a student. Every camera angle and motion transcends the screen and transports the viewer into Manuk's world to experience life as he knows it.

Ryan (Jury Honors)
Chris Landreth, Independent

"Ryan" hovers between animation and documentary and defies easy definition. It is based on the life of Ryan Larkin, a former animator who produced some of the most influential animated films of his time 30 years ago at the National Film Board of Canada. Today, Larkin lives on welfare and panhandles for spare change in Montreal. How could such an artistic genius follow this path? In "Ryan," we hear the voices of Larkin and people who knew him as an animator. These voices speak through bizarre, humorous, twisted, disturbing, or disembodied 3D-generated characters. The distorted appearances reflect Landreth's personal world of "psychological realism." A world encapsulated in the words of Anais Nin: "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are."

"Ryan" received this award because the jury perceived it as a milestone in using this new animation and rendering style to tell such a poignant and intimate story. According to the jury, the film's lifelike action and animation makes it one of the most powerful and engaging films in the festival.

Alceu Baptistão

A humorous piece created for a South American beer campaign. The scene begins on an intergalactic planet's surface where a spaceship lands as its crew works peacefully inside. A gigantic creature approaches, causing earthquakes that shake the ship with each giant step. The animated crew becomes scared and nervous. When it arrives at the ship, the creature is intrigued and starts tapping the ship as if it is an instrument. The crew inside loses their fear and quickly is taken by the beat and start dancing to the creature's cosmic music.

BBC2 Big Read Bookworms
Stefan Marjoram, Aardman Animations Ltd.

Using the voices of British celebrities, animated bookworms discuss their favorite books. These popular and entertaining animations were shown as part of a long-running series designed to discover Britain's favorite book. The characters were animated in Maya and composited into live-action plates using After Effects.

Bud Luckey, Pixar Animation Studios

The scene begins on a high mountain plain where we see a lamb with wool of remarkable sheen. In fact, the beauty of his wool often causes him to break into an energetic, high-stepping dance. One day, the lamb loses his lustrous coat and, along with it, his self esteem. It takes a wise jackalope (a horned mountain rabbit) to teach the moping lamb that -- woolly or not -- it's what's inside that will help him rebound from life's troubles.

El Desván
José Corral, Art Futura

Go for a captivating journey to find out why El Desván won first prize for animations at Spain's ArtFutura 2003. This piece is yet another impressive international work selected for this year's Computer Animation Festival.

Go To Sleep: Radiohead Music Video
Stephen Venning, The Mill

This poignant work features a low-poly version of a famous rock band's (Radiohead) lead singer sitting on a park bench delivering the track's vocal. He is surrounded by drones walking through the city streets oblivious to the city's classical architecture crumbling to the ground. Almost simultaneously, the city is re-building itself into a monolithic flat-faced future.

Innocence: Ghost in the Shell (Festival)
Mamoru Oshii, Production I.G.

The story unfolds in the year 2032, where most humans are "cyber-brained." This is a place of fewer true human than cyborgs (mechanized humans) and robots (dolls). Batou, the main character, is a detective in Section 9 of the Public Safety Bureau. He is almost entirely artificial except for a small part of his brain where a memory of another life with a woman remains. One day, a female robot goes berserk and murders her owner. Why would a human-made robot murder? Batou and his partner launch an investigation that takes viewers on an unforgettable adventure.

Nike "Gamebreakers"
David Fincher, Digital Domain

The scene is an American football field on a cold and wet winter's night. Two American football superstars (Michael Vick and Terrell Owens) are battling against a team of 22 ferocious defenders. This CG commercial required four months of continuously reworking the animation to create the look and feel of a stunningly real sports experience.

The Parthenon
Paul Debevec, USC Institute for Creative Technologies

This animation uses new computer graphics research to present an interpretation of the history of the Parthenon and its sculptures. The film begins with models of the Parthenon's frieze, metopes, and pediment sculptures obtained using a structured-light 3D scanning. Techniques include the use of photometric stereo, high-dynamic-range time-lapse illumination, Monte Carlo-based global illumination, high-dynamic-range lighting, image-based rendering, and many others.

The Polar Express
Robert Zemeckis, Sony Pictures Imageworks

This selection showcases the proprietary technology developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks specifically for "The Polar Express," an all CG performance-capture motion picture. During the shoot, more than 64 cameras were used to to capture the performance of the actors. From there, data were applied to a representation of the CG characters, mapping them within their environments. Next, live-action sensibilities and skill sets were applied, which allowed the director and DP to create a slice of time for each character's performance. This process allowed the director and DP to "drive" and manipulate the virtual camera in the CG environment around the actors' performance, which gave the director the ultimate in precision and unlimited freedom of choice in selecting each shot and frame. Once that process was completed, a steady dialogue continued among all departments (animation, cloth, hair, effects animation, and color and lighting) all working toward a final sequence. This selection showcases Sony Pictures Imageworks' proprietary technology developed specifically for this work.

Shrek 2
Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon, PDI/DreamWorks

"Shrek 2," the sequel to the Academy Award-winning blockbuster "Shrek," sends main characters Shrek and Donkey on a whirlwind of new adventures. First, they battle a fire-breathing dragon and the evil Lord Farquaad to win the hand of Princess Fiona. Then, Shrek faces his greatest challenge: the in-laws. Shrek and Princess Fiona return from their honeymoon to find an invitation to visit Fiona’s parents, the King and Queen of the Kingdom of Far, Far Away. But nothing could have prepared her parents for the sight of their new son-in-law.

SIGGRAPH 2004 ILM Research & Development
Steve Sullivan and Brent Bowers, Industrial Light + Magic

A compilation of feature film segments ("Pirates of the Caribbean," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and "Van Helsing") illustrating ILM's recent research and development work. Highlighted techniques include photo-realistic human performances and simultaneous recording live-action and motion capture performances for hybrid CG characters. Super-imposed titles highlight each R&D technique and application to inform and educate the audience.

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Conference 8-12 August, Exhibition 10-12 August.  In Los Angeles, CA