I sat horrified in front of the TV watching the devastation that hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans and the whole southern coast. So, I didn't quite know what to expect when I arrived in New Orleans a couple days before SIGGRAPH 2009. From my walk around on Saturday night, it seems that the party spirit certainly hasn't left the city. The Warehouse district, which is the area right around the convention center, was literally hopping with party-goers and celebrants. I don't think I've seen as many beautiful women dressed in white summer dresses since I saw a revival company doing the musical Showboat. Once I get settled and can take the Katrina tour (I know, it sounds morbid, but it's the only way to get out to some of the most affected areas safely), I'll report back on what I discover.
Out of all of the places I wanted to visit (outside of SIGGRAPH itself), Cafe Du Mond was my number one attraction. I was fortunate enough to visit New Orleans about a decade ago and just loved this classic southern cafe. Having coffee flavored with chicory along with Beignets (pastry with powdered sugar) is considered a New Orleans tradition. Man, I was so happy to jump on the trolley car and head over to Cafe Du Mond on Sunday morning. It was a bit crowded and hot, but I didn't mind a bit. As you can see, it's a cheap breakfast, but I was in heaven. Afterwards, I just walked all over the French Quarter just to get oriented.
Even though the temperature is about the same as Los Angeles (my home base), the humidity is very high and you sweat like the devil. Thankfully, my hotel has a nice pool where you can cool off and rest. I chose a nice place to stay that was near the convention center in case I needed something or wanted to have a meeting. I've got a great room which is quiet and spacious. And the bed is excellent. I'll need it because I think I've already walked more than I have in months.
Check in for the media is on Sunday, the day before the convention begins. I got a chance to walk around the huge convention center (it's got to be bigger than the one in Los Angeles; sure feels that way) and it was fun to see bus-loads of geeks with their laptop bags clutched tightly, milling around. I got a chance to peek at the main convention center Exhibition Hall and it looks great. Again, it seems more spacious than Los Angeles.
Easy check-in and orientation. Last year there was a line, but this year only one other person was there in the 15 minutes I took to get my badge and sign forms in order to take pictures at the event. I remembered the woman from last year's check-in and she said everything was going well. No printed programs this year, which is odd. They did make a nice PDF version available, but whose going to download and print that huge thing? They do have a mini-program which I found to be invaluable last year, but the big, plush one was very helpful when you wanted to read about a panel or event in greater detail. The information is there, but most of it's online now it seems. I'm sure the other reporters will be wondering about that, too.
I did manage to hook up with Bill Lessard, PR man for Reallusion. I enjoyed meeting him last year as he has that New York (it's where his PR firm PR With Brains is located) attitude of “Let's cut the crap and get it done,” which is a lot like my own. Looks like I'll be having lunch with him and the folks from Reallusion tomorrow afternoon. I'll also be scheduling an interview with John Martin @ Reallusion where I'll be chatting with him about their new release of CrazyTalk 6 and all things machinima. I'll also be looking forward to seeing the CEO of Reallusion, Charles Chen, again. They are both attending SIGGRAPH 2009 and giving an off-site pre-view of iClone 4 and discussing their Widget Cast product.
Sunday night spent getting ready and going over lists and schedules. As I mentioned in my last post on SIGGRAPH, I'm going to play more of the convention by ear. The only heavily scheduled days are Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest of the time will be spent on various panels and meetings. Of course, the animation festival will be a big part of my time. I'll be spending most of Monday evening watching the best animation in the world. Marvelous.
Even though the convention will not be as heavily attended company-wise (NewTek and Luxology are not coming, for example), there will be more than enough interesting panels, classes and exhibitors to make for a successful SIGGRAPH convention. Also, I'm interested in seeing how much of the “Hollywood” element will be missing from this year's convention. Last year's show in Los Angeles had a huge Hollywood presence. I don't think the industry will be as present this year considering the tough financial times. It'll be a good question to ask the chair of this year's SIGGRAPH, Ronen Barzel, at the press meeting on Tuesday. Hmnnn...
I'll be blogging each day of SIGGRAPH and also Twittering a bit (yes, I did join Twitter after squirming a bit about it). It's actually a pretty neat way to stay in touch. Perfect for reporting from SIGGRAPH. I'll be using my own twitter account, so if you want to follow, check my rickygrove Twitter feed.
That's it for now. Gotta catch some sleep before the big opening day!
Ricky will be reporting on daily events at SIGGRAPH 2009. Be sure to check the Renderosity Front Page News each day this week for updates!
Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.
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