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SIGGRAPH 2014 Report: Days 4 & 5

The conference in Vancouver continues with talks from ILM on ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and LAIKA Studios on ‘The Boxtrolls’, along with tips and tricks from Sony Picture Imageworks, Double Negative and Framestore on the latest ray-tracing render techniques.

The weather in Vancouver has settled to something I am more used to in the UK; namely drizzle. Inside the convention center however, the talks and the exhibition continued unabated.

My first talk on Wednesday morning was a brilliant production lecture on how ILM animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was fascinating to see how they created two rigs, one for the humans for motion capture and the other a turtle rig to animate the character itself. Whilst I wasn't a huge fan of how the turtles looked, I was certainly impressed with how they were brought to life.

In the afternoon I had a fascinating talk from LAIKA Studios (Coraline and Paranorman). They talked about their upcoming movie The Boxtrolls which is a stunning stop motion animated piece. What was fascinating was how CG was being used seamlessly in conjunction with traditional techniques. The characters are painstakingly animated using stop-motion, but the heads are animated in CG and then 3D printed. Each single frame required is a new 3D print of the head that simply plugs into the maquette and then is shot live on set. It was a remarkable technique and looked simply wonderful. I can't wait to see the movie when it is released in September.

I was fortunate enough to go to the Whiskytree party Wednesday evening which involved dancers, bagpipes, a gospel choir and many drinks.

For the final day on Thursday, there was a sense of things winding down. I took a final stroll around the exhibition to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The Foundry were showing off Nuke Studio which looks like an excellent tool for managing editing and compositing all in one package. 

It was a more technical day for me as there was a very long talk about ray-tracing render techniques. This was immensely helpful as Sony Picture Imageworks, Double Negative and Framestore revealed optimization tips and tricks when using the physically based renderers. At Nice Shoes Creative Studio we use the "Arnold Renderer" and seeing how Framestore utilized it on "Gravity" gave me some great ideas which I hope to implement on my return to New York. 

It has been a wonderful (and tiring!) SIGGRAPH. I have learnt many new things and caught up with many old friends, all in the delightful setting of Vancouver. I can't wait to come back one day. Overall my favorite talk was The Lego Movie, a perfect balance of techniques without getting too technical!


Stephen Parish
CG Supervisor
Nice Shoes Creative Studio