SIGGRAPH 2007 – The Year of the "User"

August 29, 2007 6:09 am

If one were asked to pick out a single theme for this year’s SIGGRAPH, it would have to be “the user.” And, mind you, we’re not talking about some mythological creature who runs out to purchase the latest consumer electronics or cutting-edge software. No, this “user” is someone else entirely. We’re talking about a blurring of categories. We’re talking about a user-generated world where the “user” and the “producer” are one and the same, a world where all the old boundaries and all the old categories no longer apply.

You could see it in every booth of the Exhibition Hall, at the educational seminars, at the parties, in the hallways, even in the Emerging Technologies exhibits. Call it the “YouTube effect” or what-have-you, but there was no escaping it, no matter where you went.

Luxology LLC, an independent technology company developing next-generation 3D content creation software, unveiled Luxology TV, an innovative new online hub that allows the 3D community to exchange and view high resolution video clips on Luxology’s website. And rather than just serving as a video time-waster, Luxology TV will enable anyone to enhance their 3D learning experience by searching, selecting and immediately watching videos on a variety of subjects such as modeling, rendering, painting and sculpting.

At the Guerilla Studio experience, a similar spirit of serious play was a work. In groups of 3 and four, young men had their faces scanned for on-the-fly 3D manipulation and artists of all stripes animated teacups and other organic shapes. Not to be left out of the excitement, even the big companies were getting into the act. HP announced the launch of, a video portal to educate consumers in a fun and informative way about the latest developments in their popular workstation products and both ATI and NVIDA showed off their new blazing-fast GPUs sure set the hearts of any animator or PC gamer aflutter.

SIGGRAPH 2007 also played host to the inaugural international FJORG! “iron-animator” competition which was co-sponsored by DreamWorks Animation SKG and AMD. FJORG! featured 15 three-person computer graphics animation teams from around the world competing in a 32-hour competition to create the best 15 second or longer animation using HP xw9400 Workstations.

Consumer-grade mo cap put in a strong showing as well. Mo cap developer Vicon ended three years of development with the debut of Blade, new customizable Windows-based motion-capture processing software that is said to more or less offer a one-size-fits-all approach to the complex task of handling motion-capture data.

3D consumer software creator Reallusion, there to offer a first look at the next-generation of their best-selling iClone 2.0 Studio and CrazyTalk and showcase their new 3D conversion tool 3DXchange, announced a deal with UK mo cap house Animazoo to bring 3D modelling and mo cap to everyday consumers, along with a second partnership with DAZ 3D, which will allow users to animate 3D objects created in the popular authoring application.

Other hot authoring tools on display included Pixologic’s ZBrush, Massive’s Massive 3.0 AI-based animation system and Digital Anarchy’s Toon It! plug in for After Effects which turns video of any resolution into Scanner Darkly-style animation or line drawings.

Sure, not everything was on the level as the latest from Max/Maya or the brilliance of ILM or Disney Studios. But it was the spirit that counted and the feeling that no matter where someone was in the industry pecking order, the enthusiasts had gotten a major leg up on the pros, and the pros were seeking to capture the passion and grassroots authenticity of the DIY enthusiast. That was the leveling, and in the end, we were all users eager to play with the new stuff and do cool things. SIGGRAPH 2007 may be over, but now is time for the real work--and the real fun--to begin.

Supporting images are copyright © 2007 Reallusion Inc. and cannot
 be copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission

Bill Lessard is a technology industry veteran and, with Steve Baldwin, is the co-author of two books, NetSlaves: True Tales of Working the Web and NetSlaves 2.0; the former of which was named a “Best Business Book of the Year” by both Library Journal and the Industry Standard. Bill has been a contributor to NPR, Wired News and the San Francisco Chronicle and has appeared in the New York Times, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Vanity Fair, CNBC and the BBC.

August 27, 2007

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Article Comments

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 02 September 2007

Thanks Bill for touching on the significance of SIGGRAPH. I can hardly wait to see the new and innovative artists and technology that SIGGRAPH brings to the table next year. Dee-Marie

karanta ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 September 2007

The Luxology TV is a really great thing. Lots of very interesting videos are available there.