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SIGGRAPH Celebrates 35 Years

(click thumbnail)LOS ANGELES
SIGGRAPH 2008 will offer up a smorgasbord of art, education and commerce at the Los Angeles Convention Center, August 11-15. The show, which is expected to draw some 30,000 professionals from across the computer graphics, animation, gaming and Web design industries, strikes a unique balance between academic pursuits and the commercial interests of exhibitors.

The show’s 90 technical conference papers will include such typical SIGGRAPH fare as procedural modeling, rendering realistic textures and CG hair, character animation, “noisy” collisions and human perception.

“These presentations give us a glimpse into a future with highly realistic computer games, stunning feature film special effects, intelligent cameras, and rich photo manipulation tools,” said Greg Turk, SIGGRAPH 2008 Technical Papers Chair from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Meanwhile, the show floor offers companies a unique venue to display new products and emerging technologies for the computer graphics industry.

“The conference began, essentially, with papers, classes and panels 35 years ago,” said Jacquelyn Martino, of IBM Watson Research and Chair of SIGGRAPH 2008. “The academic side is kept very clear in our objectives and our mission. And because of the way this community has evolved over the years, you see the progression from that academic core of this community, some subset of individuals then go into entrepreneurial endeavors and that grows into a start-up company. In many cases, it grows into an exhibitor on our show floor.”

For attendees, the show’s conferences, panels and papers offer a futuristic glimpse of things to come—everything from haptic interactive technologies (which offer users a virtual sense of touch), to cutting-edge robotics designed to interact with people more naturally.

“SIGGRAPH tends to be a place where, if you can pay attention to where these little clusters of classes or papers are heading, eventually, we see these things work their way into the commercial arena, over the next three to five years,” said Martino.

(click thumbnail)In the New Tech demo area, the University of ElectroCommunications in Tokyo will demonstrate haptic rendering.STEREOSCOPIC 3D

A hot topic this year will be stereoscopic 3D. One of the main keynote speakers will be Catherine Owens, one of the co-directors of “U2 3D,” a recent documentary of the band’s live performance in South America on their 2006 Vertigo tour.

In addition, the show’s popular Computer Animation Festival will include two days dedicated to 3D stereoscopic screenings and panel discussions, including a 3D primer on August 12, entitled: “The Fundamentals of Stereoscopy from Acquisition to Projection.”

“Stereoscopic 3D is cinematic at this point in the curve, but what starts in the cinemas and the high-end production studios, eventually comes down to your 20-30 second spot in broadcast,” said Martino. “I think it will give a good foreshadowing of what broadcasters can expect to see coming through into their pipeline as technology matures and works its way from the high-end, high-budget production into the broadcast arena.”

The show will also offer a class on journalism and computation, looking at how recent advances in computational technology are affecting how news is gathered, reported and distributed in the age of “citizen media.”

“My expectation is that this foreshadows a trend that is going to start out in journalism in the factual creation of story and narrative, and will eventually work its way more into the creative,” said Martino.

The show will also feature a series of exhibitor Tech Talks and Tech Sessions where manufacturers can delve into the particulars of their wares.

Larry Mahoney senior product marketing manager for the Hewlett-Packard Displays Business Unit of Hewlett-Packard will introduce the HP DreamColor display—a new reference-grade display technology that enables a range of more than one billion colors in a 30-bit LCD display with blacker blacks, programmable white point, pre-sets for major industry specifications, and customizations for target color gamuts. Suitable for post and broadcast applications, the big news is that the company plans to sell the DreamColor display for $3,299, drastically undercutting the market for reference-grade monitors.

On the show floor, Sony Electronics will demonstrate the ultra-high speed processing capability of its new Cell Computing Unit with a variety of applications.

The company’s Cell Computing Unit, first shown at SIGGRAPH 2007, was originally developed by Sony, (in conjunction with Toshiba, and IBM), as the CPU behind the PlayStation 3, but the company has been optimizing the chipset as a platform for high-end professional postproduction applications, like color correction, and rendering applications like Mental Image’s Mental Ray, and Side Effects Software’s Houdini Batch and Mantra. Sony claims the technology can process, decode and animate over 150 streams of MPEG-2 video in real time.


One of the coolest areas of the show floor has always been its Emerging Technologies Pavilion. Now renamed New Tech Demos, they serve as an arena for researchers to present innovative new technologies and applications in many fields including displays, robotics, input devices and interaction techniques. Displays range from the bizarre, like a Latte Art Machine that paints pictures on the surface of a cup of hot latte, to the cutting edge of robotics, with machines capable of communicating via sign language.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University and Butterfly Haptics will demonstrate new magnetic levitation haptic devices, which allow users to interact with virtual environments by manipulating a handle that is levitated by magnetic means.

3DV Systems will demonstrate its new ZCam, a low-cost PC camera that uses the company’s proprietary depth-sensing technology to capture three dimensional images in real time.

The New Tech Demos will also include more artistic selections like “Rome Reborn”—a virtual reconstruction of Rome at the time of Constantine the Great, featuring some 7,000 buildings that recapture the Eternal City at the peak of its glory, as well as an interactive display of Matsumoto-jo—a virtual reconstruction of a 16th-century Japanese castle.

For more information on how to register for SIGGRAPH 2008, visit