Terrence Masson Talks SIGGRAPH 2010
Bill Desowitz: So, what are some of the tweaks and improvements you have in store for us this year?
Terrence Masson: Well, you hit it on the head with "tweaks and improvements." There's nothing radically different this year and that's a very conscious decision to focus on our core. And by core, I not only mean programs but also people, which, of course, defined our conference theme this year: "The people behind the pixels." So, as you learned from Ronen [Barzel] last year, conference chairs do come on about three-and-a-half years prior to first define a vision for the conference and then bring on a board of directors, talking with our conference advisory group and lots of other folks in the industry. It was a really easy task for me to focus on this as the vision because what we came to is that every year… you come to SIGGRAPH to see the best of the best and the newest cutting edge stuff -- and it's always fabulous -- but what is consistent behind all of that is the people and why you physically come to the conference. The one thing you can't replace in any other scenario is bumping into Ed Catmull and Jim Blinn and all these hundreds and hundreds of people.
BD: SIGGRAPH Dailies! is definitely new. What is that about?
TM: SIGGRAPH Dailies! is brand new and is being head by Bill Polson of Pixar, and it's going to be really big. Because of my background, coming from 20 years in production in the trenches, as a technical director and visual effects supervisor, I wanted to personally bring on Bill and help him engage that audience, because we found that there was a dramatic gap between the hardcore researchers, which is one of our core audiences, and the Computer Animation Festival, which is the premier event for filmmakers and for the final product in visual effects and animation. But in the middle are the artists at the workstations: the modelers, the surfacers, the character animators, the riggers, the effects animators, who actually produce each individual shot, and we [thought] there was a real lack of venue for them as individuals to submit their own work and their stories of what it took to produce that work at SIGGRAPH.
BD: So they fall into a gray area.
TM: Exactly and it's true that some of the best of their work is presented in the Computer Animation Festival every year, but it's always as part of the ILM demo reel or the best commercial from X-company, so what Dailies does is sit solidly in that space in the middle where it's about the individual and the story behind the shot. I know the blood, sweat and tears that these artists shed to produce a single shot, whether it's 12 frames or 20 seconds and the passion and the research and the long hours and the weekends and the interactions with directors. There are so many hilarious and moving stories behind this work, and we wanted to give a showcase to the individuals, so that's what this is about.