Tuesday at Siggraph 2019

Jul 31, 2019 at 12:02 am by -gToon


The day began awkwardly. Tickets for the VR Theater were sold out by the time I got to the ticket booth just before 9 am. They went on sale at 8:30 am. I had the same problem trying to get into the VR booths: they were all booked up. I’ll try again tomorrow and keep my fingers crossed.

NVIDIA Programming: Interactive and Cinematic Ray Tracing of Cellular and Molecular Biology with OptiX and RTX Acceleration
That’s some title, huh? In simpler terms, NVIDIA’s presentation by the very excellent John Stone was about how GPU tech from NVIDIA has enabled ray-tracing of things like representing a virus on a molecular level so that scientists can analyze and understand how they work. John developed an impressive tool called VDM which enables the visualization of biomolecular activity. He went into great detail on how NVIDIA technology, specifically RTX and OptiX, have made a massive change in the level of detail and size of the visualizations VMD can create now. Medical use of graphics technology is often forgotten in the emphasis on the entertainment industry. This presentation was a fascinating glimpse into a very popular mode of graphical representation. One used by over 100,000 researchers worldwide.

Unity Technology Booth
I met up with Adam Myhill at the Unity booth who brought me up to speed on developments in Unity technology. Note that Unity has just today released version 2019.2 with a lot of great improvements and additions. I really enjoyed talking to this lively and intelligent artist who shared an awesome short that he helped make in Unity called “Sherman, Part 1”, which is delightful. I also got to see most of his presentation on Unity’s Cinemachine (which he created) which was funny and very informative.


Dave McGavran, CEO of Maxon 

Maxon Press Luncheon
Before I describe the Maxon Cinema 4D luncheon I want you to imagine the deep rumble of an earthquake as you read this. Under the leadership of their new CEO, Dave McGavran, Maxon announced the availability of a singular version of Cinema 4D (Version R21), more efficient installation and licensing, and new low-entry subscription pricing. That means no more multiple versions of Cinema 4D, a new central hub for purchasing Cinema 4D and a much less expensive entry price.

These are massive changes in the way Maxon will sell and distribute Cinema 4D. One that I think will open up the application to an entirely new user-base. Maxon is going on a big, multi-city tour with Cinema 4D R21 in order to inform and inspire their users directly. You can find out more at the Maxon site. Look for more info on Cinema 4D R21 and technology updates soon. R21 will be released sometime in September 2019.

And by the way, earthquake aside, Maxon spoke about their efforts to include more women at Maxon. This isn’t something you hear from other companies at a promotional event. But then again, the Maxon and Cinema 4D community has always been exceptional.

Chaos Group Meeting
I always love meeting with David Tracy and Lon Grohs from Chaos Group. The big reveal was V-ray for Houdini which I think will be a very popular release. Lon also wanted to share the incredible developments that Chaos Group has made in real-time ray tracing using their Project Lavinia. On a brand new RTX enabled Acer laptop, Lon showed me Lavinia scenes that were astonishing in their details and it was all real-time ray tracing. Jaw-dropping technology.
More info on Project Lavinia at this link: https://bit.ly/2GQkwzB


Left to right: Roy Riggs, Tim Choate, and Larry Weinberg


Meeting with Tim Choate, CEO of Renderosity
I got an invitation to meet with Tim and several of his Poser team members to discuss the future of Poser. For those who might not know, Bondware (Tim’s company) purchased Poser from Smith Micro several months ago and have been working hard on planning and development. I can share the specifics of what we discussed, but our conversation was lively and occasionally heated. I was so happy to meet Larry Weinberg, the creator of Poser, and Roy Riggs, a member of the Poser development team. After our discussion, I filmed short interviews with both men which I will share as soon as I can get it edited.

Foundry Meeting
I accidentally missed the formal press meeting with Foundry on Monday, so we scheduled some time on Wednesday. I spoke at length with Dan Ring, head of research at Foundry, about machine learning in post-production software. His description of the development of de-blur was one of the best descriptions of advanced technology I’ve heard at the conference. Then he showed me before and after pictures which were stunning. The use of machine learning is growing the computer graphics industry and Foundry is at the forefront.

Foundry is well-represented at Siggraph 2019 with their third year of the Foundry All-Stars show (I loved the one last year in Vancouver), major presentations at their beautiful booth. Check their Siggraph 2019 for more info: https://bit.ly/2Yfmh3L

I closed the day with a lot of ideas I didn’t have when I got up in the morning. The Maxon announcement was amazing. I’m so excited for them. But also meeting up with Tim Choate was an unexpected pleasure. But Dan Ring really capped the day with are simple explanations of the most complex things. Plus he loves Siggraph as much as I do and eagerly headed off to the Emerging Technologies exhibit right after out meeting.

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