Sunday is one of my favorite days at the Siggraph conference. The pace is slightly slower than the rest of the week which makes it a perfect time to spend time wandering in the Art Gallery, Emerging Technologies and The Studio. And since attendance is lighter than the rest of the week, lines are shorter and it’s not as crowded (generally).
Here’s a brief report on my activities today at Siggraph 2019.
I have to say this is my favorite among all of the art galleries I’ve attended over the years at Siggraph. Brittany Ransom, the Art Gallery chair, has done a superb job of organizing and spacing the gallery. Sometimes the gallery at Siggraph is too small for the works. This a year is perfect. And the arrangement of the works allowed you time to explore and think without getting bunched up with other people at various stations.
The selection of works (they were jury-selected this year) is outstanding. Every single work is fascinating on multiple levels. One standout for me is the Watertight, a collection of 3D printed habitats. 3D printing is not something you think of as an art form, but after spending time with these strange, magnificent 3d sculptures, I can tell you it certainly is. The work is familiar and yet strange somehow. That it has a political message just adds to the depth of the piece. Magnificent!
I attended a studio session on the Unreal Sequencer in the afternoon. The Sequencer is the timeline-based part of of the Unreal 4 engine where you can organize and set practically every event inside of the engine. Animation, effects, lighting and even materials are all able to be controlled and patterned. Luis Cataldi did a great job of presenting to well over 100 people (over capacity) with about 20 lucky people able to follow along at a computer station.
Epic has put a lot of time and effort into their presence at Siggraph 2019. I’ll be reporting on a variety of events involving the Unreal engine this week.
I attended talks for three short films, two of which are VR projects.
- The Making of “Age of Sail” The Google Spotlight Stories series was an exciting series that explored VR and storytelling. The Age of Sail is one of their best. This talk focused on the origin of the story and the creative technology involved in making the film so alive and compelling. Advances in wave creation, sound and material creation were all fascinating. Original production stills and video made the talk even more compelling. A wonderful talk.
- Bone Mother: The Challenges of Making an Indie 3D-Printed Film. This was my favorite talk as it focused on a very small crew (5) of Canadian stop-motion filmmakers who through the Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouve received funding to make The Bone Mother. Making a stop-motion film is challenging enough, but Hayward and Trouvee and his crew (including their young daughter) had to innovate and work around issues in 3D printing in order to make the film work. XX passed out several of the Bone Mother faces (they created 1,500) of them and I was fortunate enough to get one. Hand painting genius! Can’t wait to see this film tomorrow.
- 2D Animation in the VR Clouds: The Making of Disney’s “A Kite’s Tale” Disney has an interesting program at their studio: anyone can pitch an idea for a short film and they will select the best and give the filmmaker time, space and support to make it happen. Bruce Wright proposed a lovely short VR film on the interaction of two very different kites. Problems with depicting clouds, animation and style were being solved by the crew. Again, production video and stills were shown to help viewers understand how difficult A Kite’s Tale was to make despite its simple look and story.
I wasn’t able to explore this very large section at Siggraph as it was late in the day, but there was some fascinating tech in the booths. I was glad that this section wasn’t overwhelmed with VR technology (although there was quite a bit). There were also some interesting uses of sound and holograph technology. I’ll talk about this more when I visit again tomorrow.
I very much enjoyed my time at the Siggraph conference today. It appears that the people who planned this year’s conference have spent a lot of time figuring out how people can find space to think and converse because I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people relaxing and enjoying the Siggraph space. The layout for the events today was perfect. I also like very much the main conference schedule area where people can relax in bean-bag chairs and check out what’s happening at the conference. Much bigger area and more effective presentation of information than I’ve ever seen at a Siggraph conference.