Siggraph Report: Tuesday, August 11
The 3rd day of the Siggraph Computer Graphics conference began early with an official Siggraph press conference. Several conference chairs were preset including the chair of Emerging Technologies, the Studio and the Animation Festival. Denise Quesnel, head of the VR Village exhibit, made the most interesting comments about how the VR Village was set up. She used the term “Nomadic VR” (unique to this Siggraph conference), which I’d never heard before. I’ll definitely head back to the exhibit later in the day to check it out.
Mikki Rose, the Animation Festival chair, gave frustrating answers to the query,“Why not have more nights of the official Animation Festival?”. The idea that one of the most prestiguous festivals in world shows only on two nights of a five day conference is hard to fathom. According to Mikki, the “conference doesn’t want to compete with other events”. This doesn’t make sense because Siggraph has simultaneous events occuring all during the conference. And why not run a morning session? I never got a chance to ask that question. If they are going to have a press conference, then take the questions seriously, Siggraph.
TRADE SHOW OPENS
Tuesday is the official start of the Siggraph Trade Show, an even that has increasingly grown in size and emphasis at the conference. It’s a flashy, loud show floor that groups the big companies in the center and stations the smaller companies/groups on the fringes.
I got a chance to visit the trade show floor early (right after the press conference) and so I headed over to the Renderosity booth. So nice to meet my fellow co-workers and friends there. The booth is simple, but looks great. Once the doors opened to the general public the booth was swamped. It was a real pleasure to finally meet the Renderosity crew. They all wanted to know what I was doing and what Siggraph was like. And, of course, we talked Renderosity biz. A lot of great things are coming to Renderosity in the near future, but I can’t quite talk about them yet. Sorry.
Exploring the trade show floor, I hooked up with friends at the Reallusion booth who were showing their Animation Pipeline which now includes pretty sophisticated motion capture. They are demoing this technology at their booth and it looked very impressive. More on Reallusion tomorrow.
Another company that I met up with on the trade show floor. They recently acquired Digital Tutors and have combined their training (focused on IT primarily) with DT’s artist-based training to create a huge new training base. I’ll be attending their press dinner later tonight, so I’ll have more to say about them tomorrow.
I wrote about this small-team created animation program last year after meeting the incredibly passionate Aurelien at the Vancouver Siggraph. He updated me on the program and it’s growth. Since the Akeytsu beta was released about a month ago there have been 1800 downloads of the software and over 100 licenses bought. This is an application to keep an eye on.
Quote: “I’ve been working on Akeytsu for the last 3 years, night and day. I will cry when I will sell the first license”.
MAXON CINEMA 4D
Maxon gives an annual press luncheon every year at Siggraph and it’s always one of the highlights of the conference for me. This year Maxon has a brand new version (R17) of their easy-to-learn, but extremely powerful 3D application Cinema 4D. Due for release in September of 2015, Cinema 4D R17 has dozens of improvements in all areas, but the primary focus is on the new “Take System” which allows you to “save multiple iteration of a scene in one file”, as a co-presenter put it, “the new Take System will give you time back”. Look for a feature review of Cinema 4D R17 in late September.
Faceware is a leading provider of facial motion-capture solutions. I’ve been following them for a couple of years now and it’s been fun watching the company and it’s technology grow by leaps and bounds. This year at Siggraph, Faceware is releasing a plugin for Epic Games Unreal Engine 4. I met with Peter Busch at the Faceware booth and he gave me the background on the Unreal Engine plug it, which was done surprisingly fast. The conversation quickly led to discussing the place of motion-capture in game production and the differences between Unreal and Unity. It was a very enjoyable discussion. One I hope to visit later in my coverage of Faceware.
Another fast-growing motion capture company is Xsens. I met with them last year in Vancouver and was impressed with how intelligent and innovative their hardware/software is. Hein Beute took me on a tour of Xsens history and brought me up to speed and what they are doing now: smaller, easier bodyware and more flexible software. He was particularly proud to talk about the smaller indie users who have taken Xsens and created high quality motion capture in essentially their living rooms.
Quote: “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create high quality motion capture” -Hein Beute
I managed to catch Maxon expert Thaassis Pozantis (who also presented at the Cinema 4D press lunch) who gave a talk in “enemy territory”, as he put it on using the Houdini engine in Cinema 4D. I’m always glad to see the big computer graphics companies working together and this combination is particularly delightful. Thanasiss showed how to incorporate Houdini assets such as fluid simulation inside of Cinema 4D in addition to describing how Houdini processess data differently from Maxon, but that Maxon engineers managed to work out a way to make it work. The demonstrations were fascinating and shows how remarkable technology can be created when natural competitors work together: they both benefit.
UNITY AND CINEMA DIRECTOR
A quick note on a presentation at the Unity game company booth. I’m a big Unity fan and only recently discovered Cinema Director in their asset store. Cinema Director is a cut-scene creator plug in for Unity that gives you the ability to create cinematic scenes inside of the game engine. I won’t go into detail here, but be sure to check the Cinema Director link and watch their very funny demo video.
DIGITAL TUTORS PRESS DINNER
Closed out a very long day at the Digital Tutors (now Pluralsight) dinner. I should say the Pluralsight dinner as this company, which produced high quality IT training, purchased Digital Tutors a year or so ago and is no in the process of combining their assets under one roof. Aaron Skonnard, the President and CEO of Pluralisght, gave an excellent opening speech about how the company is dedicated to expanding and improving online training, then we all enjoyed a marvelous dinner and even better conversation (I’m talking about you, Megan Herrick).
One of the longest Siggraph days ever for me if you include travel time. I’m exhausted, but filled with ideas and great memories of the day. Although there were naysayers saying that this year’s Siggraph conference lacks “energy”, I never noticed. I had a wonderful day and enjoyed myself thoroughly.