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The Best of the Fest: A Sampling of Films from the SIGGRAPH '98 Computer Animation Festival

SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival was once again the showcase for the past year's best computer graphics work. This year's festival showcased more than 150 pieces of all types including scientific, mathematic and visualization animations, motion-capture demonstrations, visual effects sequences, location-based entertainment films, television commercials, animation shorts, student films, clips from CG feature films and "SIGGRAPH in-betweens," customized animations interspersed in the program. Films were selected from 650 submissions by a five-person jury made up of Thomas Linehan,...

SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival was once again the showcase for the past year's best computer graphics work. This year's festival showcased more than 150 pieces of all types including scientific, mathematic and visualization animations, motion-capture demonstrations, visual effects sequences, location-based entertainment films, television commercials, animation shorts, student films, clips from CG feature films and "SIGGRAPH in-betweens," customized animations interspersed in the program. Films were selected from 650 submissions by a five-person jury made up of Thomas Linehan, Christine Schöpf, Kathy Tanaka and Marceli Wein, and this year's festival chair Ines Hardtke.

Bingo by Chris Landreth. © Alias/Wavefront.

Bingo by Chris Landreth. © Alias/Wavefront.

While we profiled several of the anticipated highlights in our July 1998 issue, we have selected six of the festival's surefire hits and fabulous surprises to include in AWN's SIGGRAPH '98 Special Report.

Bingo

Directed by Academy Award nominee Chris Landreth (his 1995 film, The End was also created at Alias), Bingo is based on the short play "Disregard This Play" by Chicago's Neo-Futurist Theatre Company. The story deals with the age-old question: "What if a lie is told long enough and loud enough?" Bingo is the first animated short fully produced with Alias/Wavefront's new, next-generation animation software, Maya.

Download a Quicktime movie of Bingo! 1 MB. © Alias/Wavefront.

Geri's Game by Jan Pinkava. © Pixar.

Geri's Game by Jan Pinkava. © Pixar.

Geri's Game

Geri's Game is the first short film produced by Pixar since the studio shifted focus in 1989 to commercials, and, ultimately to feature films with Toy Story in 1995. Earlier this year, it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and has since collected awards at film festivals around the world. Directed by Pixar staffer Jan Pinkava, the film was created by a staff of more than 80 people, with a technical goal of depicting a human character with complex facial animation and the realistic movement of clothing. To achieve this, the studio developed proprietary software to calculate skin motion simulation and cloth dynamics. These innovations certainly pay off as Geri's Game depicts an endearing old man, who appears almost real enough to touch.

Download a Quicktime movie of Geri's Game! 813 KB. © Pixar.

Jataka by Jeff Baker. © Smoking Buddha Productions.

Jataka by Jeff Baker. © Smoking Buddha Productions.

Jataka

The winner of the gold 1998 Student Academy Award for Animation, Jataka, was created by a group of Ringling School of Art & Design students in Sarasota, Florida: Peter Choe, Jeff Baker, Dominick Cecere, Neal Nellans and James Hill, who now all work for studios such as DreamWorks SKG and Rhythm & Hues. The story contemplates the way we deal with temptation, depicting a young man who faces many obstacles, each of which challenges a particular aspect of his character. The film was created with Alias PowerAnimator software.

Download a Quicktime movie of Jataka! 715 KB. © Smoking Buddha Productions.

The Physics of Cartoons Part 1 by Steph Greenberg. © Sandra Frame.

The Physics of Cartoons Part 1 by Steph Greenberg. © Sandra Frame.

The Physics of Cartoons Part 1

This independent short comedy film is a pseudo-scientific demonstration of the principles of cartoon physics, featuring two clueless characters who are demonstrated to destruction. The 3-D characters were created with proprietary rendering techniques with a mix of 2-D and 3-D backgrounds. The film was directed by Steph Greenberg.

Download a Quicktime movie of The Physics of Cartoons! 2 MB. © 1997 Sandra Frame.

Rendering With Natural Light by Paul Debevec. © Paul Debevec.

Rendering With Natural Light by Paul Debevec. © Paul Debevec.

Rendering With Natural Light

This stunning technical/creative piece was created at UC Berkeley's Computer Science Division by Paul Debevec, creator of FACADE, which was included in the 1997 SIGGRAPH festival. Rendering With Natural Light describes how a series of differently exposed photographs can be used to record lighting information in a scene and how such lighting information can be used to illuminate synthetic objects with natural light.

Download a Quicktime movie of Rendering With Natural Light! 916 KB. © Paul Debevec.

The Smell of Horror by Mitch Butler. © Mitch Butler.

The Smell of Horror by Mitch Butler. © Mitch Butler.

The Smell of Horror

This independent film, produced and directed by Mitch Butler, was the surprise hit of the festival. Seeming to come out of nowhere, Butler has created a beautiful, if odd, film that certainly had all of SIGGRAPH talking. The story depicts Flip, a "good old southern boy" who drives to a strange dark house to test for toxic fumes. An eager little man answers the door, thus starting Flip's unusual day...

Download a Quicktime movie of The Smell of Horror! 1.2 MB. © Mitch Butler.

Wendy Jackson is associate editor of Animation World Magazine.

Attached Files 
AttachmentSize
518-bingo.mov1.33 MB
518-jataka.mov677.42 KB
518-rendering.mov968.07 KB
518-smell.mov1.2 MB
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