Our Writers Share Top Computer Graphics Stories from 2020, Part 1

Dec 30, 2020 at 10:00 am by -gToon

2020 was a difficult year for all of us, to say the least, but what was it like in the world of computer graphics? While there was an overall economic downturn, many businesses in the computer graphics and digital art fields had a very good year economically. Some of this is due to the fact that computer graphics and digital arts moved to online sales and development years before the pandemic kept everyone at home in front of their computers.

Virtual work/creation was already a commonplace practice in selling digital art, releasing software updates, team game development and creation, and even hardware sales. Certainly, some companies in the computer graphics world had to content with moving their offices online, but I don’t think that was as difficult a process as say a department store or restaurant business.

The pandemic actually created a higher demand for entertainment (online, in particular) which in turn pushed the demand for software, media creation and hardware used to create them. Sources like Business Wire indicate that computer graphics will be a 40+ billion dollar business by 2025.

So with all of this demand for content, what were the top tech stories for 2020 in computer graphics?. We asked our staff of writers what they thought and we had a lot of ideas. So many, we’ve decided to break each writer’s comment into separate articles. And I will go first
Ricky Grove (gToon)

  • The top story of the year, for me, what the bold move by Maxon and their new CEO David McGavran to merge with Red Giant. With one stroke Maxon has expanded their market and deepened their product offerings. This was a challenging move for them, but the unique synergy between the two companies will move both of them into new markets and attract a whole new group of users. I’m also keen on Maxon’s release of the Cineware plugin for Unity in March. Integration of Cinema 4D assets into Unity is now super easy and it’s free. Way to go, Maxon!
  • Reallusion’s has been releasing amazing 3D applications for years now. Their iClone app, in particular, has gained quite a following and the app has been developing in new and creative ways. But with their 2020 release of Character Creator 3 and the HeadShot add-on, they have created a revolution (truly) in affordable custom character creation for gamers, developers, 3D artists and animators. Now it’s possible to have extremely realistic models you can customize to your hearts content without having to have a degree in computer science.
  • Apple’s new M1 chipset. Apple has been researching their own chips for several years now and will the release of the new M1 iPad and MacBook Pro they finally made good on all of their talk and promotion. The result was beyond anyone’s expectations: the M1 chip, which combines cpu and gpu functions, is an enormous hit. So much so that it takes a month from purchase to get either iPad or MacBook. Speed and efficiency has been widely praised, but also the fact that the translation from non-apple software to the chip has been very, very good. As more game companies and software packages release M1-based apps, you’ll see a clamor for more Apple products like the 16” MacBook (coming next year).
  • Siggraph 2020 first Virtual Conference was my second most important tech story. Having attended over a dozen live conferences (and loved them) I was dubious that Siggraph could capture it all online, but they did….and more. This was without a doubt the best conference I’ve ever attended. The 2020 conference chair, Kristy Pron, should get a medal for how well they translated the immense and complicated conference into an online event. One of the things that truly stood out was how easy it was to hook up with artists, tech geniuses and inventors at the conference. The event was so well regarded that Siggraph has already announced plans to continue with an online event even if they go back to a live conference. Bravo, Siggraph!
Of course, there were many interesting stories in computer graphcis this year. I haven't even talked about the explosion of animation production which will certainly continue on into 2021 which is a good thing for artists employed in that industry (and for lovers of animation). 
Next we will share M.D. McCallum's (warlord270) take on the best news stories of 2020. 

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