SIGGRAPH 2008 Blog - Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Things have been crazy here at SIGGRAPH. There are some old visitors and also some new ones, like DeviantART. I haven’t had the chance to talk to them yet, so I’m not sure what brought them here this time.
Early in the morning I had the chance to talk to Carlos Baena and Taylor Mahony from Animation Mentor. We spent nearly one hour talking, however you’ll have to wait 'till I get the whole interview ready (actually I have it on video).
Autodesk released the next version of their software, including Maya and Mudbox. They were barely announced a couple of days ago, so there’s still some information missing regarding new features. I did have the chance to take a look at a demonstration of Maya 2009 where they were showing the new stereo preview (as in Stereo 3D movies).
The basic idea is that you can see the stereo output directly on the viewport, instead of rendering out an image or animation (all you need is a pair of red-blue glasses.
As you may already know, Maxon Cinema 4D goes to 11. They held a press event for the launch where they were showing some of the new features like non-linear track-based animation, a revamped BodyPaint module, and matte painting projection. I’ll give you more information about this when I have the time to play a little with the demo version of Cinema4D that they gave us.
InterSense and The Third Floor are giving a new face to “virtual film making” with their camera tracking system. The Third Floor is a previz company that has worked on feature films such as Star Wars Episode III, and what they’re doing is using the InterSense tracking technology to create real-time previz using a camera.
They have a software running inside Motion Builder that works like a virtual environment for the real-life camera operator. That operator can move freely on the virtual environment, in real time. What this means is that you can actually operate your camera while the action is running. This would be specially useful for action shots where you want to have a hand-held feel to your scene.
Lucas Films always makes a big impression at SIGGRAPH, and this year was no exception. Their highlights for this year are IronMan, Cloverfield, The Force Unleashed and The Clone Wars (which will be playing on the Nokia Theater this Thursday 14). I even had the chance to play The Force Unleashed at their booth, and I have to tell you that the game looks and feels amazing.
This year there’s a new program called the Production Studio Nights, which is running for 3 days (the same three days as the exhibition). On Tuesday they screened “The Man Who Planted Trees,” an amazing hand-drawn short film by Frédéric Back. What made the film so special to me is that there are so many things that we take for granted (specially the smallest things like panning and zooming), but when you start to think that he made this film in 1987 you begin to wonder how he did half of the things you see on the screen.
The second screening was the Pixar Story, which is a documentary about the history of Pixar Animation Studios.
And that was the end of day 2.
SIGGRAPH 2008 Blog - Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This is the third day of SIGGRAPH, and the second day of the exhibition. Today I visited the job fair, which is a little different from what I saw last time I was at SIGGRAPH. One of the first things that I noticed is that there wasn’t an extremely long line of jobseekers waiting to enter, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.
A lot of big names were there, like MPC, Sony Imageworks, Microsoft Game Studios, Ubisoft, Midway and Blizzard (I actually tried to find out more about Diablo III but there is no news about that, nor news about a possible Halo 4 game).
Jon Peddie Research held a lunch at The Palm, a fancy restaurant near the Convention Center. The focus of the talk was real-time Rasterizing and Raytracing rendering, but instead of having someone talk in front of the audience for an hour, they made a small panel with people from different companies, including AMD, Nvidia and Electronic Arts.
The whole discussion got me wondering about using that technology to create realistic high quality images faster, and I see that it will be very interesting to see how things change as the technology evolves. There was actually one company that showed a demo of a real-time cinematic animation, and it looked so good that you couldn’t tell it was actually real-time. Hearing their approach was even more interesting, as they rendered the animation as voxels instead of polygons, so they could store position, color and lighting information for each point in the point cloud and then generate an image out of that.
Afterwards, I went to the Geek Bar to take some pictures, as I didn’t stay there much.
I paid a visit to Matt Sederberg from T-Splines, and they showed me what they’ve been doing with their software. If you’re a Rhino user, then you’ll be happy to know that they’ve added a lot of tools that are meant to bring the power of box modeling inside Rhino.
These last pictures show the Maxon and Wacom booths, and in the end you can see some pictures of the FJORG! judging ceremony. Unfortunately, I had to leave early so I don’t know who actually won the competition. It doesn’t matter, though, as I can just ask Quasi about that.
There’s only one day left for the exhibition and I’ll let you know how it goes on my next post.
Sergio's Blog - SIGGRAPH Day One
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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.