Out of all the VFX conferences on the planet, SIGGRAPH is the big one.  This year starting Sunday 30 July, SIGGRAPH 2017 is set in its home usually revisited every two years at the LA Convention Center. This is where all the heavy haulers of VFX come to show what they have been working on.  It helps that a lot of the studios are also on the West Coast, so some Los Angeles-based people can even go home at night!  The meetings and events have already started around the Staples Center, Santa Monica and around Hollywood.   Damn I miss going out there!

SIGGRAPH Autodesk Usergroup party, Boston USA 2006.

I was going to mention all the companies going.  But I found the list would be so long and I’d want to say so much stuff about each one, the blog would become crazy and sickly sweet.  Because there’s just so much to include.  So much history and so much amazing ground covered over so many years.  My first SIGGRAPH was in Boston in 2006 (see above).   I was a late-comer I know, but it’s a lucky man who can report on VFX trade shows for a living over the the eight years I did it for And get paid for the privilege.

For those who don’t know, SIGGRAPH is the Association of Computing Machinery’s annual get together for the Special Interest Group in GRAPHics. Run since 1969, this week long event now covers everything from VFX, animation, games, Computer Graphics and all the research in hardware, software, VR, camera and projection systems.  This quiet gathering has become one of many splattered throughout the world.  In 2008, SIGGRAPH itself branched out and began SIGGRAPH Asia.  Selecting a new city and country each December-ish, to compliment the US splash-fest in July-August, the ACM made this brave move of expansion which surely has breathed new fresh life and blood into the brand.  It’s the best thing to ever happen to SIGGRAPH in my opinion.  SIGGRAPH had been hopping around the States every two years or so, with jumps to San Diego, New Orleans and Orlando, among others.  Then other events began and took hold outside of SIGGRAPH.  The beautiful VIEW in Turin, FMX in Stuttgart, THU in Portugal.  These days, the audiences span through all my best friends and colleagues, talented artists, writers, editors and producers.

As mentioned, SIGGRAPH 2017 starts in Los Angeles Sunday July 30, and rolls on through til Thursday the 3rd of August.  Here’s just a few highlights to watch out for at the event.

SIGGRAPH 2017 Computer Animation Festival Trailer

The Electronic Theater showcases outstanding achievements in animated feature and short films, scientific visualization, visual effects, real-time graphics, game excerpts, and more from the past 12 months. This year the theatre will include a behind the scenes look at the MPC’s Academy Award winning work on Disney’s The Jungle Book.

The Computer Animation Festival is a central focus of the brilliant submitted works for show at SIGGRAPH.  There are screenings of the reel for the entire show in the VR Theater, available all week, all day from Monday to Thursday.   On Monday, follow it up with a bus ride to the SIGGRAPH Welcome Reception at 8-10pm.  A lot of the attendees are the best geeks on the planet, so there are also special attractions for those like us who love a but of science as well as the art.  This will be at the California Science Center, an incredible place for sure.  There special exhibitions will be open for the SIGGRAPH attendees, including Mission 26: The Big Endeavour, where the Space Shuttle Endeavour is available to see.    A cracking way to open the show I reckon.

I’m not going to go through the Advanced Program here.  It’s so much for fun doing it yourself with your calendar beside you.  I’ve done it on occasion.  Wondering how to squeeze five or six sessions (and parties) into the same ten hour slot on each of the five days the marathon runs.  For instance, just on Sunday there’s a Panel on the Future of (CG) Hair in VFX, a Course on the Visual Perceptions of VR Rendering, and Industrial Light & Magic are presenting a talk about their work on Marvel Studio’s Doctor Strange. And that’s before lunch.

SIGGRAPH 2017 VR Village Trailer

As mentioned earlier, the studios are geared up to discuss the intricate details of how they created their work on the movies of the past year.  The technical and creative challenges of creating the water simulations in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will be explored by the team from MPC.  In this talk they will present the team’s approaches to animate, simulate and rendering these using a newly developed ocean toolkit and tighter integration of Autodesk Bifrost into MPC’s FX and rendering pipeline.  This is on Monday at 2pm LACC Room 150/151.

I know I’m mentioning only the first couple of days and just enough to suggest I should be there myself, instead of sitting in my den at home.  I am hoping to save up a bit of cash and get out to Vancouver next year.   I am so looking forward to doing this and seeing everyone then.

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