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Gettin' Siggy with it: Joystiq goes to SIGGRAPH

Kevin Kelly
August 14, 2008
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We headed into the wonderific CGI fray known as SIGGRAPH this year, and ultimately decided that we need to start checking this out more often. The technical conference just entered its 35th year, with the acronym being for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques. While it's evolved into a pretty glorified job fair, they still show off new and impressive technology, have a large section focusing on papers relating to innovation in the field of computer graphics (like this year's "Simulating Knitted Cloth at the Yarn Level") and feature a fun Computer Animation Festival component filled with dozens of short CGI films in competition.

The only gaming companies we noticed in attendance were Activision, LucasArts, and THQ, which mostly offered "we want to hire you!" booths, but a lot of the tech behind games was being shown as well. NVIDIA was demoing "the world's first fully interactive GPU-based ray tracer," and the Mova Contour system was showing off their futuristic looking rig. Plus, it now seems like everyone and their uncle is creating 3D printers that pump out plastic models, but that doesn't mean we don't want one.

Read on after the break to find out more, explore the gallery below, and be sure to watch the video that got the biggest laughs, just ahead.

Gallery: SIGGRAPH 08 | 77 Photos



Out of 31 films we saw in competition, this one got the biggest laughs by far. Plus, this was in the same theater where we saw Video Games Live last year, and it ain't a small place. Seriously, when we hit the lotto, we're building one of these just for gaming. Anyhow, some of the animation entries were short, some were touching, and others just made you scratch your head. We'd seen the TF2 videos before, but it looked great on that screen in high-def.

Most of our time there was spent roaming the show floor, checking out the different booths (what? Disney's giving out Rubik's cubes?), listening to talks (at LucasArts, we discovered that the Euphoria engine was developed as a digital stuntman replacement), and taking photos of strange things (like this Japanese touchscreen system that uses plain paper to show you two different images from the same screen).

We also attended Sony Pictures Imageworks' "A Tribute To Stan Winston," where they showed reels of everything he'd worked on, and people like James Cameron got up to talk about working with him. It was a brief but touching tribute, and the stage was flanked by two of Stan's creations: Arnie in T2 and the Iron Man Mark III armor. Almost all of the Digital Domain company was there, taking precious rendering time away from Avatar -- they bustled out the door when they cued up a screening of the "HD Blu-ray Master" of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I watched for about 30 minutes, then remembered I had the movie, and a bed, waiting at home.

SIGGRAPH rotates cities every year, and will be in New Orleans next year before returning to Los Angeles in 2010. If you can stop by, we highly recommend it, especially if you're seeking a job in the gaming industry or just enjoy checking out new technology.












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