SIGGRAPH 2016: Tech, Sessions, Star Wars & Dory

Posted By Akiko Ashley on August 02, 2016 06:16 am | Permalink
ANAHEIM, CA - SIGGRAPH was definitely smaller this year but it was laid out a lot differently and functioned a bit differently. This year it was apparent there were options for people with Exhibit Badges as they had access to panels and sessions done by vendors who rented space separate of SIGGRAPH that gave attendees more access to training, talks and specific needs. Side FX did Houdini training for the entire day on Tuesday. Autodesk had speakers for a few days about their product lines including updates to several of their product lines & showing off their recent purchase of Arnold. Disney and Pixar had rented rooms on the second floor with sessions for a couple days. This gave attendees a reason to remain at the show longer. 

A few tidbits that were interesting at SIGGRAPH from vendors, due to lots of people doing press release coverage, I wanted to touch on it lightly.  AMD had rebranded their graphics card line introducing the Radeon Pro WX series (no longer Fire Pro), and had a new strategy for visual effects and production in LA by opening an office here. AMD wants your feedback about your needs as a Professional in production. I think healthy competition in this space is good for all of us. Intel's Thunderbolt 3 with their Solid-State Drive 75- Series features a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and an NVMe controller...great developments for those working with Simulations...Amazon & Google both had booths demoing their VR hardware, Legend was showing off their VR technology in Stan Lee's Cosmic Crusaders. Maxon was demonstrating their release of Cinema 4D in front & center of the show floor with updates to Cinema 4D like Voronoi Fracturing, Interactive Knift Tools, Object Motion Tracking, advanced rendering capabilities & much more. Pixar's Renderman team announced their support for Cinema 4D. NVIDIA introduced and show off Pascal Mobile Quadro based GPU in their GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card & the  GeForce GTX 1070.On the workstation side the Quadro P6000 was being demonstrated. 

The show's focus was definitely on VR/AR and was amazing to growth of technology in the VR space. Courses were very much about VR/AR and Real Time Rendering. Technical Papers didn't really talk about anything new. Birds of a Feather meetups were fun...and Production Sessions were packed with people who wanted to know how VFX was created on movies and games. 

On Wednesday I took in some time to do the Production Sessions again...

Under the Sea - The Making of "Finding Dory" Panelist included Steve Pitcher (Production Designer), , Jim Brown (Lead Animator, Hank the Octopus),  Masha Ellsworth (Shading Lead), Chris Burrows (Set Shading Lead), Chris Chapman, Ian Megbben, John Halstead (Supervising TD), Ian McGibbon (Lighting). The crew from Pixar Animation Studios spoke about their process in getting key shots to work in their pipeline. There was a lot of focus on the use of Renderman as they used version 19 and 20 throughout the production. Jim Borwn spoke about the development and the method used to animated the Octopus Hank using their proprietary animation software using a spline based rig. 

"Deadpool & Colossus" Our Favorite Anti-hero. Panelist included Jan Philip Cramer, Animation Director: Digital Domain; Scott Edelstein, CG Supervisor: Digital Domain; Sebastian Chort, CG Supervisor: Blur Studio; Frank Balson, Pre-visualization Supervisor, Blur Studio. This panel discussed the complexity of the work the teams from Digital Domain and Blur on the low budget of the Deadpool movie, Digital Domain was the Principal Effects house with 248 shots, and used their proprietary software to do 1:1 facial capture with different actors for the character Colossus and created the model for the Deadpool character that could be shared with other vendors. Digital Domain created the Hellicarrier for the movie but gave it a more rustic look for the anti-hero feel. Blur Studio  worked on 36 shots in Deadpool & created the Opening and End Titles for Deadpool and did pre-visualization of many action sequences, Blur did a lot of work on the Colossus model to create the damaged Colossus for fight sequences. 

On Wednesday, I also attended the PIXAR Renderman Art & Science Fair...this is a yearly event held by Pixar that gets attendees excited about Renderman, and gives Pixar, a chance to show their beautiful short Piper to audiences who have not seen it yet. Render-Man stations with different vendors were set up in the bar area while people networked; for example Renderman for Maya, Renderman for Katana, Renderman for Houdini...and new to the family, Renderman for Cinema 4D. Later you entered the theater to see the short Piper and to learn all the new features from the new Renderman 21 that just came out two weeks ago. It was a blast, and the big highlight of the event is getting the one of a kind, collectible Renderman teapots. Since Pixar is no longer on the Exhibit show floor now that they do this event, it was quite packed with people looking for their teapot. 

Thursday was quieter as it was the last day,  so doing the Production Session was pretty much the highlight.

From Armadillo to Zebra: Creating the Diverse Characters and World of "Zootopia". Panelist included Ernest Petti, Technical Supervisor; Nicholas Bunkard, Technical Animation Supervisor; Brian Leach, Director of Cinematography; Sean Palmer, Technical Lead of Disney's X-Gen; Michelle Robinson, Character Look Supervisor; Hans-Joerg Keim, Head of Environments were all from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. When you consider that Elsa's hair in Frozen was 900 hairs and that seemed a feat at the time, each of the characters in Zootopia had hair quantities for each in these characters in this quantity, multiply it by the number of furry creatures and you can see the complexity of the work. Disney rendered their entire film in their proprietary renderer Hyperion. 

Industrial, Light & Magic Presents the Visual Effects of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Panelist included Daniel Pearson, CG Supervisor; Patrick Tubach, VFX Supervisor; Paul Kavanaugh, Animation Supervisor; Polly Ing, CG Supervisor all from Industrial, Light and Magic. ILM had 2100 shots for The Force Awakens. One of the coolest shots they showed was when the Millennium Falcon piloted by Rey through the spaceship graveyard in the early part of the film as she out maneuvers the Empire's ships chasing her. As per usual ILM captures the audiences attention with their ability to do some of the most incredible work for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The line for this session was huge. 

I had an incredible time at SIGGRAPH this year. It is different in the way it operates but in a sense this is good for everyone. As vendors rent space outside of SIGGRAPH attendees with Exhibits Passes have more to do, so the shrinking show floor does not mean there is nothing to means that it has evolved and what was in place is now in another. 

SIGGRAPH will be in Los Angeles in 2017. If you have a subject or something you think I should see next year, look for me on the show floor next year. I love hearing feedback and what you think is important.