SIGGRAPH 2008 Blog - Monday, August 11, 2008
SIGGRAPH 2008 opened its doors today at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As always, the activities run from early in the morning till 6 PM. However, the SIGGRAPH life doesn't end at 6, but rather begins with the parties and the get-together, such as the SIGGRAPH Chapters party or the Sake Barrel BOF (too bad I didn't get the chance to actually drink some Sake...).
And lets not forget that we have the Production Studio Nights at 8PM from tuesday to thursday.
As a press member, you are lucky to get access to a room above the show floor, so you can see the exhibitors building their booths and setting everything up.
Besides the tech classes, panels and papers, there have been some highlights, like Catmull's presentation and book signing, and also the FJORG! animation contest.
Actually the FJORG! is one of those events that you just cannot miss, unless you somehow don't notice the guys running around the place yelling out "FJORG!" (even Quasi the robot joins the FJORG! yelling campaign...more about him later).
What's "FJORG!"? It's an Iron Animator team-based contest. They have around one day and a half to complete a 15 to 45 second shot from concept to final shot. However, besides running around the clock trying to get their shot finished on time, they are exposed to different kinds of distractions that will keep them from working.
Unless you're part of a team, you are not allowed to be inside the work-area to see what they're up to. However, there are some monitors at one end of the room so you can watch their progress in real time, as it's streaming directly from the contestants' computer screens.
I am sure you're still wondering who Quasi is. Quasi is a little freaky robot standing outside the Geek Bar. People will actually go to the bar just to talk with him and get a good laugh.
He can see you, hear you and also answer whatever you ask him (did I mention he can also dance?). To tell the truth he freaked me out at first, but in the end even I was talking to him. If you're attending SIGGRAPH, make sure you stop by the Geek Bar and say hello.
The last thing I wanted to talk you about is the Rome Reborn project. Rome Reborn is actually the first step to something much larger, since the idea is to use this technology to reconstruct historical locations for visual history purposes.
Rome Reborn is the result of massive collaboration by different companies, including Mental Images, Procedural and Sony. There are actually 2 versions of the project (version 2.0 was finished on august 1).
Mental Images provided the technology to create a real-time raytracing renderer and also a server that is used to stream all the data through the internet. As amazing as the first version was, it had its limitations when it came to building creation. The problem was solved by Procedural and their technology to procedurally create buildings in real time.
The idea is to be able to create and change the buildings by changing different parameters. They can also control the placement, texturing, etc.
Another nice touch is the ambient sound created for this project, which is pretty much a dual-surround sound system, as it has 2 sets of speakers: one for ground level sounds and another one for for the high level sounds.
This all sounds great, but how about having the ability to freely navigate the city? On the photo above you can actually see the city navigation using a Playstation 3 controller. The server used to run this simulation is a Blade Server using the same Cell CPU used by the PS3. In this test, the navigation was running at around 10 fps, but the more servers they add the smoother the navigation will run.
They're actually thinking of using this project for guided tours or lone travelers. They've developed this technology that tracks your position using a GPS, and then shows the virtual environment as you move around.
The second technology uses optical recognition (if you saw the Microsoft CES 2008 presentation, you will remember Bill Gates and his little optical recognition device, which works in a similar way). This device is meant to recognize the building that you're looking at and reconstruct it in real time.
On the other side of the booth, you see a massive ultra-high-definition screen (which is actually made up of an array of high-definition projectors). I have to tell you, on this screen you can really see how detailed the work is.
This Tuesday, the Production Studio Nights opens at the Nokia Theater, which is next to the Convention Center, and they're going to be amazing. If you're like me and you're at SIGGRAPH right now, I imagine you can't wait for the Clone Wars advance screening on Thursday.
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Animation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Sergio Rosa [nemirc]. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields.
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