SIGGRAPH 2021 is fast approaching.

As far as online events go, the SIGGRAPH conference this year of 2021, even under COVID, is a truly unique collection of the best, the first and the most spectacular.  Usually staged in real life, SIGGRAPH bristles with opportunities to network and banter with the best operators in this field of visual effects and digital arts. But then you’d expect a technology conference like this to easily pivot into a virtual wonderland of possibilities.   Well, yes, this year I believe it has.

The networking for SIGGRAPH is run on a massive server on Discord. Once you have your registration, it is very easy to jump onto the app or desktop browser, or even follow along on your device when you’re out.  The spread of channels and rooms to catch up with people is very impressive.   There are attendee-only social hours each PT time-zone evening, (which is kind of the middle of the day for me here in Melbourne). 

So, to the conference.

Join SIGGRAPH 2021 Conference Chair Pol Jeremias-Vila as he kicks off the live week on Monday, 9 August, at 6:45 am PDT. Following this welcome, get ready for the first Featured Speaker session, “Turing Award and Beyond: In Conversation with Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan” at 8 am PDT.  Streamed live and recorded, the mission for SIGGRAPH was to make the sessions as easy to access and view as possible, where ever you are on Earth.

The SIGGRAPH Awards are a regular placement for the first day, recognising those behind the scenes, bringing media technologies into the mainstream.  Appy Hour is a venue for developers to show off their best efforts in the industry of app development.  There is a SIGGRAPH Village, this year being integrated into DISCORD.  Bird of a Features meetups (virtual), bringing all kinds of specialisations together.  There are Courses to enrol in, Art and Technical Papers, Art Galleries, Emerging Technologies, Labs, Panels, Posters, an Immersive Pavilion and an Animation Festival with an Electronic Theatre.  Everything you could possibly need to fill some hours, lockdown or insomnia cases.  Register now and come onto Discord.  And, I can’t resist a line from a Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt film, “come find me when you wake up”. Reach out and say hi on one of the Discord rooms.

The Featured Speakers list is phenomenal. The program brings you two speakers each day of the conference.   The list continues below:


• “The New Breed: What Our History With Animals Reveals About Our Future With Robots” featuring Kate Darling on 9 August at 1 pm PDT;


• “Graphics, AI, and the Emergence of Shared Worlds” featuring Richard Kerris, presented by NVIDIA on 10 August at 8 am PDT;

• “How to Build an Animation Studio” featuring Sergio Pablos on 10 August at 1 pm PDT;


• “Through the Looking Glass: The Next Reality for Content Production” featuring Eric Iversion, presented by AWS on 11 August at 8 am PDT;

• “Programmatic Visualizations in Mathematics” featuring Grant Sanderson on 11 August at 1 pm PDT;


• “High-fidelity Ray Tracing Pushing New Boundaries” featuring Jim Jeffers, presented by Intel on 12 August at 8 am PDT;

• “Omni, Meta, Uni, and All the Other Verses You Care About” featuring Timoni West, presented by Unity on 12 August at 1 pm PDT;


• “Fireside Chat With Amy Hennig” on 13 August at 8 am PDT;

• “Creating, Weaponizing, and Detecting Deepfakes” featuring Hany Farid on 13 August at 1 pm PDT.

There’s truly more than enough to plan, populate and completely fill the week during SIGGRAPH.  Many attendees call SIGGRAPH the conference you go to to miss as much as you catch.  There’s always so much to see.    The times roughly line up to a stretch of long days in the US-west coast time-zone, and a few of my friends in Europe and Australia are busily refining their sleeping patterns so they match up for next week.  One acquaintance, Liviu Constantinescu, has prepared a link for a GDoc that has everything for you to import into your calendar.  CLICK HERE.

There is a Diversity Summit to spotlight how the arts industry has rightly been transformed with the inclusive free thinkers and creatives from ALL communities.  There are powerful sessions like “Anti-racist Graphics Research”, “From STEAM to Dream: College to Career Connections with Latinx Technical Directors”.  Birds of Feather sessions are included with “Women in Technology: Knocking Down Barriers”, “LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Meetup”, and more.

This year’s REAL TIME Live is a not to miss event.  Featuring a live pre-show from shader artist Flopine (pictured above) with music by Throno Crigger that starts at 4:30 pm PDT, attending Real-Time Live! live means YOU get to be part of awarding one of the incredible demos the coveted Audience Choice prize.

A handful of SIGGRAPH 2021 Production Sessions and Panels, and their accompanying Q&As — will be live only. When planning your schedule, watch for a note in the description that details whether or not a session will be recorded. (Note: The same is true for many live-week contributor Q&As from presenters in Technical Papers, Talks, and more.)

Use code SIGGRAPHSAVINGS for a free Basic registration or $25 off the Enhanced or Ultimate levels.

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