Magazine, Issue 3.4, July 1998
SIGGRAPH's Electronic Theater Celebrates 25 Years of Discovery
by Wendy Jackson
is coming up, and that means the Computer Animation Festival will once
again be the showcase for the past year's best computer graphics
work. This year, in addition to the festival's Electronic Theater and Animation
Theater, SIGGRAPH has expanded the festival to include two new programs.
SigKIDS Theater includes films such as Antics, a 90-second short
for Nickelodeon, and Dick and Jane Do Math, animated sequences for
a PBS series called Life By the Numbers . In honor of the 25 th
conference, organizers have also programmed Film Show Classics, a selection
of important milestones in computer graphics history.
"Finally computer graphics is where we knew it
could be, beyond the mechanics," said Ines Hardtke, chair of this
year's festival and head of digital imaging at the ACI East and Animation
Youth East divisions at the National Film Board of Canada (NFBC) in Montreal.
She and a jury of four others, whose names will be revealed the first day
of the conference, sorted through 650 submissions to select 134 films for
screening. An additional 20 "in-betweens" -- short i.d. films
incorporating the colorful SIGGRAPH logo characters, created especially
for this event -- will be shown throughout the festival programs, which
will run every day of the conference, July 19-24.
| SIGGRAPH 98's colorful logo characters|
are brought to life in 20 short films
Light and Sound Are This Year's Smoke
| Rendering With Natural Light by Paul Debevec. Image courtesy of SIGGRAPH.|
The festival has grown to be an annual milestone, and to have one's film
selected for screening in the program is a great honor. Every year there
are a few pieces which are talked about well after the conference is over.
year, one of those films was Digital Smoke,
a simple yet hyper-realistic CG visualization of rising smoke, created
by John R. Anderson at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Asked what this
year's "smoke" will be, Hardtke cited films which break new ground
in the visualization of two elements: natural light, as depicted in Rendering
With Natural Light by Paul Debevec (creator of last year's eye-popping
FACADE), and Underwater Sunbeams by Henrik Wann Jensen, and
sound, as explored in Music for Unprepared Piano by Robin Bargar
and Maríenkirche by Tapio Takala.
Firsts for this year are a live Internet demonstration
of improvisational animation in The Making of Sid and the Penguins,
and Hand-Drawn Spaces, a dual screen motion-capture performance
piece choreographed by Merce Cunningham, who will be present with his collaborators
to present a special demonstration of the multimedia exhibit/film.
| Hand Drawn Spaces choreographed by Merce Cunningham. Image courtesy
Interested in what light transport in a non-homogeneous medium with isotropic
reflection looks like? The festival includes several scientific, mathematics
and visualization animations like the described The Cornell Box
- Up in Smoke. Others include Chaco: A Sacred Center, a visualization
of ancient dwellings in New Mexico and the self-explanatory titles News
From Hubble Space Telescope and Southeastern United States Fly-By.
Motion-capture demonstrations include Space time Swing by
Autodesk, made with a new technique for retargeting motion data to characters
of different sizes, and Advancing Captured Motion by LambSoft, made
with a technology which applies motion capture data to a character's proportions
and structures that are different from the performer's.
Other types of animation in the festival include visual
effects sequences from movies such as Deep Impact, The Truman
Show, Event Horizon, Flubber, George of the Jungle,
Mouse Hunt, Quest for Camelot, Small Soldiers and
Starship Troopers; location-based entertainment films such
as Race For Atlantis, an IMAX 3-D film by Rhythm & Hues, and
Wild River by Sega Enterprises; television commercials by
Rhythm & Hues, Medialab, Glassworks and Buf Compagnie and game animation
sequences such as Grim Fandango by
| News From Hubble Space Telescope. Image courtesy of SIGGRAPH.|
Animation shorts featured in the festival include the latest Oscar
Geri's Game, produced at Pixar; The Physics of Cartoons ,
a character animation by Steph Greenberg; Ellipsoid, a geometric
metaphor for the busy lifestyle of Tokyo; Pings, a pilot for a future
series by Exmachina, Zaijan, Nobuto Ochiai's pilot for a CG feature,
The Sitter, Liang-Yuan Wang's examination of the ironic relationship
between humans and technology, and 1001 Nights, a musical film with
computer animation by Noriaki Kaneko and Tim Miller of Blur Studio, which
was featured in last
month's Dig This...
include Jakata by Ringling student Jeff Baker, which recently won
the gold student Academy Award. A selection of student and graduate research
projects created at MIT, New York University, University of Washington,
and other schools are also included.
The Computer Animation Festival will end with the
anticipated premiere of Bingo, the first animation short fully produced
with Alias/Wavefront's new, next-generation animation software, Maya. Directed by Academy Award nominee Chris Landreth (his
1995 film, The End was also created at Alias), Bingo is based
on a neo-futurist play called, "Disregard This Play."
| Jakata by Jeff Baker. Image courtesy of SIGGRAPH.|
For complete film listings and conference highlights,
visit www.siggraph.org. Animation World Magazine will publish a
SIGGRAPH `98 special report in August, with three articles covering various
aspects of the CGI scene.
| Bingo by Chris Landreth. |
Wendy Jackson is associate editor of Animation World Magazine.
What else should we dig? Every month, Animation World Magazine will
highlight the most interesting, exciting happenings in animation, in "Dig
This!" Send us your ideas, suggestions, videos, products or works-in-progress
today. You dig?
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