What will be some of the show’s highlights this year?
We will have an amazing array of guest speakers, including those featured within the Business Symposium, which is making a return to SIGGRAPH after a several yearlong absence. Among these speakers are people from the Disney Technology Innovation Group, Unity, Georgia Tech, and even the “Walt Disney” of India.
We have a terrific keynote speaker, Rob Bredow, the head of ILM.
And starting on Tuesday, 14 August, our SIGGRAPH Next series will present a keynote speaker each morning to kick off each day with an inspirational talk. These speakers are Tony Derose, a senior scientist from Pixar, who will talk about “makers”; Daniel Szecket, VP of design for Quantitative Imaging Systems, speaking on the topic of big data and its impact on innovation; and Bob Nicoll, dean of Blizzard Academy, talking about AI.
Other highlights will include our “Fly Over Canada” contest winner being unveiled on Monday night – with special content from the arena of themed entertainment; a 25th anniversary showing of the original “Jurassia Park” movie, being hosted by “Spaz” Williams, a digital artist who worked on that film; and a 50
thanniversary celebration of Leonardo – the world’s most prestigious digital arts journal – which will be jam packed with innovations based on art research from around the world.
The show is in Vancouver what does this locale mean for attendees?
There have been a great many amazing statistics I’ve seen recently about Vancouver:
- Vancouver is becoming one of the biggest VR hubs in the world.
- Variety Magazine recently said that Vancouver is the number one VFX and animation cluster in the world.
- Film LA has said that Vancouver is the #3 TV and film production center in North America.
- Vancouver stands within the top three cities in the world for animation careers.
- There are 60+ world-class VFX and animation studios in Vancouver.
- There are more than 20,000 film and TV jobs in Vancouver.
- There are more than 8,000 VFX and animation jobs in Vancouver.
Vancouver’s rich production-centric communities are leading the way in film and VFX production for television and onscreen films, they are leading in new media content and games, and in new workflows, while also fawning a new world of AR/VR/mixed reality, as cited by a recent article in VRScout.com.
Attendees to SIGGRAPH 2018 can be connected with local, Vancouver-area academics, researchers, practitioners and artists who will be joining the global community. SIGGRAPH can always be counted on to enhance and inspire not only the local area folks, but thru our ACM International outreach, people from around the globe who can come to Vancouver to participate in this exciting business and networking opportunity.
What is this year’s theme, and how is that reflected in the conference?
This year, we are celebrating “Generations,” a theme that has several connotations based on the really rich history of SIGGRAPH. In the literal sense, it refers to the fact that pioneers in computer graphics from previous decades attend our conference each year, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s newest and youngest researchers and practitioners. As we gather across multiple disciplines to innovate, relate, and grow, the term “Generations” is also a nod to the generations of software and hardware that keep getting better, faster, and more amazing every few years. Additionally, SIGGRAPH also “generates” new ideas and connections, which is essentially the whole purpose of the conference.
How has SIGGRAPH influenced you personally and professionally?
My career began because of the mentorship and camaraderie of the SIGGRAPH community. I had an early VR start-up I was part of called Fakespace, which launched in 1994-5. We’d contributed to SIGGRAPH during our first few years in business, however we transitioned from contributor to also being an exhibitor in 1998. That year, our business exploded, and I went from eating ramen noodles to being able to afford a house! We made a deal on the show floor for a project that took our enterprise from “dying” to officially being a company – I spent the next 11 years very happy.
Without SIGGRAPH, my career never would have started, and the access and mentorships made available to me helped me to recharge, to learn, to be inspired, to meet amazing new people, to be challenged. Anytime I thought I was doing state-of-the-art work, I would go to SIGGRAPH and see that there was something better already happening. SIGGRAPH allows me to stay on top of technology and to remain competitive. My company Fakespace began with SIGGRAPH and remained intimately involved with the conference throughout that company’s lifecycle.
Now 20 years later, I’m fortunate enough to be able to assemble a conference featuring all of the components that have always inspired me, that truly reflect my experience, and bring it to everyone - to show how far we’ve come in AR/VR and mixed reality, to appreciate all of the innovations in the world of production. We’ve gone from conversations – not all that long ago - about the virtual appearances of actors, to now doing photorealistic animated films that are virtually indistinguishable from live actors appearing on real film.
Personally, I couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative of all that SIGGRAPH has contributed to my life, both personally and professionally – the open mentorships, the willingness to question and educate. It’s an incredible experience. There’s no other conference where people aren’t trying to one up each other - everyone’s totally trying to help everyone else learn something new and get better at their craft. This kind of mentorship and camaraderie simply does not exist anywhere else.
What positions have you held with SIGGRAPH in the past?
- Currently: Member of the Conference Advisory Group, ACM/SIGGRAPH, and Conference Chair, SIGGRAPH 2018, in Vancouver
- Computer Animation Festival Director for SIGGRAPH 2016 in Anaheim, CA
- Chair, Production Sessions at SIGGRAPH 2015 in Los Angeles
- Chair, Production Sessions at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver
- Subcommittee Member at SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim under the leadership and mentorship of Jerome Solomon (Chair, Production Sessions, SIGGRAPH 2013, and SIGGRAPH 2017 Conference Chair)
Why should a person attend?
To stay on top of the rapidly exploding world of technology, to see what is coming just around the corner in new art forms, to learn where the practitioners of yesterday came from and how to apply their ideas to today’s world. SIGGRAPH helps you to stay ahead of the curve and to use that knowledge to stay current or advance yourself. Instead of just being inspired by, and just observing, the work of others, SIGGRAPH offers you the tools by which what you experience there can help you to innovate and lead the discussion in the future. SIGGRAPH is the only conference in the world that enables you to do this.
Anything else you want to point out?
SIGGRAPH contains all of these components, but overall, the conference is a truly unique “experience” – and I use that term literally. It’s an experience you can’t possibly “get” without being there in person. If you work in – or have interest in - the fields of computer graphics, emerging technologies and the bleeding edge of interactive techniques, you need to participate, engage, and join us in Vancouver this August to get all of the benefits that SIGGRAPH has to offer you first hand.