Siggraph Report: Wednesday, August 13. Part 1

gToon · August 15, 2015 12:44 am

Siggraph Report: Wednesday, August 13

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In the years I’ve been attending the Siggraph Computer Graphics conference, Wednesday (the second day of the trade show) is of often the busiest. It certainly was for me. So much so that I’ll be splitting my Siggraph Report into two parts. This first part covers the many meetings, panels and people I met at the conference. It was an exciting day with lots of interesting products and tech developments. Lets get started.

Having attended the informal Autodesk press dinner on Monday night, I was aware of the updates to Maya and 3DS Max, but my conversation at the Shotgun booth (Autodesk didn’t have a booth of their own) with Matt was enlightening. Shotgun was purchased by Autodesk in June of 2015 and since then the company has made significant improvements in their asset-management software. “We focus on how to make the iteration for artists work more smoothly“. Shotgun 6.3 focused on the review process so that artists and supervisors could communicate more effectively regarding the various “iterations” of a workflow/creative process in a particular project. Now, users of the software can update and communicate right inside the 3D application they are using. This is an very effective update (it will come out sometime in the fall of 2015), one that I plan on discussing more in a future article.

As a quick note: I also spoke with Marc Hamaker of Autodesk about their plan to include the new Stingray game engine in with Maya LT. He was keen to change the notion that Maya might have too difficult a learning curve for beginners/new users. “It’s not ‘aspire to Maya’, but start out with Maya” [as your first 3D software].
I hadn’t paid much attention to Maya LT, but after talking with Marc, I really want to try it out in combination with the Stingray game engine. There was quite a buzz about this game engine at the conference and after seeing how it integrates so well with Autodesk applications (especially Maya LT) I think that buzz is justified. I truly believe that the Maya LT/Stingray combination (at an amazing $30 per month price point) will give Unity and Unreal a run for their money.

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Speaking of Unreal (the well established game engine developed by Epic Games), I stopped by the Intel booth right after my meeting with Shotgun and got up to speed with Unreal 4 and how Intel is working with them to improve the application. The Unreal build 4.9 should be out month or so and will fully support the new Windows 10 along with DX12. Chesteron gave me an excellent tech demo on a truly impressive $1,000 mini-computer with an on-board Intel processor. He pointed out that future improvements in Unreal include a re-working of the Matinee cinema cut-scene system will be geared towards film production. Their also will be a new particle system as well. I’m excited about trying out the new Unreal game engine, particularly so since it is free and has a vast support/learning network.

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Every year the press luncheon that graphics genius, Jon Peddie, puts on is consistently the high point of attending the Siggraph conference for me. Mostly because he presents several guest panelists to discuss cutting edge graphics technology in a frank and entertaining dialogue. Those press attending the event always ask revealing questions and I come away with a list of things to research that usually is several pages long. This year was no exception as the subject was the current buzz on Virtual Reality.

Guests included Sanjay Das of Tippet Studio, James Knight from BluStreak Media and Grant Anderson of Jaunt Studios. I’ll be covering this event in more detail in a future article, but to summarize; Virtual Reality is a lot older than the hype surrounding the technology. Grant Anderson made the point that “the tools are not yet there for Virtual Reality” and that “creatively, [VR] is an entirely new medium”. In essence, VR production is a “frameless” medium since, as James Knight pointed out, “it’s not games, it’s not movies, but somewhere in between”. It appears that the real impact initially will be “in the mobile device gaming market”, as Sanjay Das pointed out. The “killer app” for Virtual Reality is still to come and when it does, it will be like a sonic boom in the computer graphics field.

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I spoke with Shane Griffith at the Foundry booth after coming back (with my head swimming) from Jon Peddie’s luncheon. Shane and I spoke mostly of the new Modo 901 and future plans for this ultra-modern 3D application. Modo 901 is a “broad release” with improvements in every area of the application. The UI was completely redone so that it would integrate better with other Foundry applications. There’s also a new photorealistic viewport and literally dozens of other improvements that significantly improve Modo’s functionality. I’ve always been a big fan of Modo and it’s exciting to watch the program grow under the Foundry’s development guidance. Full list of improvements here. Look for a review of Modo 901 soon.

Final Thoughts
Wednesday at Siggraph was a packed day for me with impromptu meetings and conversations that left me inspired. I’ll be completing my report in Part 2 where I talk about meeting up with Reallusion, AMD, Mocha, Boris FX and the Renderosity team.

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