Best of Siggraph 2012

The annual SIGGRAPH conference has the reputation of being the greatest showcase of recent technological developments, artistic endeavors, and presentations in the field of computer graphics. This year proved to be no exception as last week ended after some amazing times. Whether you came to watch tech demos, watch shorts at the Electronic Theater and Computer Animation Festival, explore the trade show, get your teapot from the Pixar booth, or possibly some of everything, there was a lot of great happenings for everyone.

Although I was unable to attend, I was able to watch live streams online from Autodesk and nVidia. I will try to point out what were, in my opinion, some of the best talks and provide links to the recorded content.


Animation Workflows with Autodesk Maya – Features the new Alembic GPU cache in Maya 2013, which allowsdisplay of large, detailed scenes and fast loading. Also shows new ways of referencing models and animation and working with animation layers. Definitely a recommended watch.

Spark Unlimited: Crafting the Narrative for Lost Planet 3 – This was a good demo of the Lost Planet 3, discussing the main character of the game and the unique characteristics of the gameplay and mechanics. It does show some interesting aspects of the game.

There were also some good demos on virtual production and motion capture, but not anything that really stood out. AWN has a good article about this.

Autodesk® Smoke® for 3D Production Pipelines – This was one of the best compositing demos that I saw. Autodesk Smoke is a compositing/NLE application that allows both layer- and node-based workflows with support for working in a true 3D environment. The presenter showed a typical compositing workflow for working with 3D renders. Very good.

Modeling and Painting with Autodesk Mudbox – Not a bad demo of the workflow in Mudbox 2013. I find sculpting and projection painting interesting, so it was a highlight for me.

Atomic Fiction: Small Shop, Big Picture – A presentation of a newer, small-scale vfx house called Atomic Fiction by the two founders, Ryan Tudhope and Kevin Baille. There were some interesting material and breakdowns and more interesting was the background of Tudhope and Baille.

From School Credits to Film Credits at Full Sail University – Discussion of the Computer Animation program at Full Sail University by a faculty member and an alumnus. Gives some insight into the school and students transitioning into work in the industry.

Pixar Animation Studios Open Subdivision Technology Review – Really nice demo by Pixar of their latest tech development with Microsoft Research. Open Subdivision or Open Subdiv is a breakthrough open-source application that allows extreme subdivision of a mesh that can be displayed without any noticeable lag due to GPU processing.


V-Ray and RT Rendering on Ben + Jerry’s – Showcase of work on a commercial by a52 Maya and V-Ray. The demo focuses on V-Ray RT’s fast, interactive rendering on a GPU. I put this at ‘Really awesome.’

Accelerating High-End 2D Image Processing and Compositing with CUDA – Presents a technology called RIP (Righteous Image Processing) from The Foundry for Nuke that adapts to whatever hardware is being used. Goes into the problems with parallel processing on CPU vs. GPu and so forth. If technical computer jargon is not your thing, you might want to pass on this one.

Simplifying the Motion Graphics Workflow – GPU-Accelerated 3D Raytracing in Adobe After Effects – An overview of the new 3D rendering features in After Effects and how the new raytracer uses the GPU to speed up the workflow. Good presentation if you are not familiar with the tools already.

An Introduction to Mari – I’m always good for a Mari demo, and this one is no exception. Describes the latest developments in Mari 1.5, including GPU processing that allows lighting, simulations, and other effects to display in the Mari viewport.

RealFlow 2013: Jumping on the GPU Bandwagon with Hybrido2 – Shows the new RealFlow solver that can create incredibly detailed simulations and use the GPU to preview the data.

OpenSubdiv again. This is the only demo to be hosted by both nVidia and Autodesk. There’s little mystery as to the reason.


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