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Disney Animation Unveils Technological Innovations at SIGGRAPH 2018

Disney Animation to bring the world debut of its first-ever VR short, ‘Cycles,’ a behind-the-scenes look at ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’ and share a complete data set from ‘Moana.’

BURBANK, CA -- Walt Disney Animation Studios comes to SIGGRAPH 2018 in Vancouver, BC, Canada, with a slate of world debuts, presentations, and content including the world debut of Disney Animation’s first VR short, Cycles and a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming feature Ralph Breaks the Internet. SIGGRAPH, which will take place August 12 - 16 in Vancouver, British Columbia, is an annual conference and exhibition that showcases the world’s leading professionals, academics and creative minds at the forefront of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

“We look forward to rejoining our community each year at SIGGRAPH, and this year, we are particularly proud to debut our first VR short, Cycles, as well as share the visual and technological innovations that have gone into our upcoming feature, Ralph Breaks the Internet,” says WDAS chief technology officer Nick Cannon.

WDAS Technology team recently announced at the Eurographics Symposium on Rendering the public release of a production data set featuring assets from the Oscar-nominated film, Moana. The data set features the assets that compose the island scene of Motunui and is being shared publicly in order to be used in computer graphic research and in software development and education. The data set, as well as a cloud data set, are available to SIGGRAPH attendees and interested parties at

“Today’s production scenes have a higher degree of complexity than ever before and this is happening at an exciting time when new technologies and techniques are disrupting conventional approaches to rendering,” says Cannon. “We hope that sharing these data sets will enable a deeper understanding of the challenges of production rendering in the research community, inspire new avenues of research and facilitate experimentation by providing a useful testbed for education, testing and validation.”

WDAS SIGGRAPH events include:

VR Screenings: Cycles
Dates: 12-16 August – throughout the day
Location: Immersive Pavilion, Vancouver Convention Centre

SIGGRAPH attendees will have the opportunity to experience Cycles, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first VR short film, at the Immersive Pavilion, new this year to the conference. Cycles was created as part of a Disney Animation professional development program, giving emerging filmmakers training opportunities. At the Pavilion, guests will experience, play and learn about the latest technological advances in immersive realities such as the Vrcade (games and experiences), the VR Theater (storytelling) and the Village (installations). Cycles, an experimental film directed by Jeff Gipson, centers around the true meaning of creating a home and the life it holds inside its walls.

Production Session: Ralph Breaks the Internet - Visualizing the Internet
Date: Tuesday, 14 August - 10:45am - 12:15pm
Location: West Building, Ballroom AB, Vancouver Convention Centre

Description: In this exclusive look at the upcoming Ralph Breaks the Internet (release date: 21 November 2018), members of the production team from Walt Disney Animation Studios will discuss the challenges they faced, both artistically and technically, in visualizing a world that is ever-changing and seemingly endless — a concept as familiar as the internet executed in a way that has never been seen before.

Panelists: Ernest Petti - Technical Supervisor, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Larry Wu - Head of Environments, Walt Disney Animation Studios, David Komorowski - Head of Characters & Technical Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Talk: VR Story Production on Disney Animation’s Cycles
Date: Tuesday, August 14th - 3:45pm-5:15pm
Location: West Building, Room 301-305, Vancouver Convention Centre

Description: Cycles is an experimental VR short, which was created at Walt Disney Animation Studios as part of a professional development program. The story, which navigates the life of a house over the course of several decades, follows the ebbs and flows of a growing, changing family, and the interpersonal challenges that accompany them.

Speakers: Jeff Gipson (Director) & Jose Gomez (VR Development & Technology; Thought Partner)

Course: A Conceptual Framework for Procedural Animation
Date: Sunday, 12 August 2018 – 9:00am - 10:30am
Location: East Building, Ballroom A, Vancouver Convention Centre

Description: Conceptual Framework for Procedural Animation (CFPA) provides guidelines for designing procedural animation timings. It allows users to set up procedural animation rigs and tools in a highly organized manner by reducing complexity. It also helps users make their procedural animation timings.

Speaker: Dong Joo Byun – Effects Animator, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Talk: Plausible Iris Caustics and Limbal Arc Rendering
Time: Sunday, 12 August 2018 – 2:00pm-3:30pm
Location: West Building, Room 109-110, Vancouver Convention Centre

Description: The talk showcases application of anterior segment tomography measurements from contact lens research to photo-realistic eye rendering. The team will show improvements on existing eye geometric models and will demonstrate the advantage of using a more accurate iris depth as well as introduce a practical method for automatically rendering the limbal arc as an intrinsic part of sclerotic scattering.

Contributors: Matt Jen-Yuan Chiang – Senior Engineer, Software, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Brent Burley – Principal Engineer, Software, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Talk: Hierarchical Controls for Art-Directed Hair at Disney
Date: Sunday, 12 August 2018 – 2:00pm-3:30pm
Location: West Building, Room 211-214, Vancouver Convention Centre

Description: Creating appealing shapes of characters’ hair while maintaining the organic motion from physical simulation is challenging in Disney’s very stylized animated worlds. This talk describes the introduction of hierarchical sculpting controls into our hair pipeline and presents tools for creating and manipulating this consistent structure to achieve art-directed hair motion.

Panelists: Avneet Kaur – Character TD, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Maryann Simmons – Staff Engineer, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Brian Whited, Riot Games

Talk: The Handiwork Behind Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
Time: Sunday, 12 August 2018 – 3:45pm-5:15pm
Location: West Building, Room 109-110, Vancouver Convention Centre

Description: Walt Disney Animation Studios brings you a look into the visual and technical challenges the production team faced in creating the holiday featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, and how 2D techniques were implemented to solve visual production challenges throughout design and production.

Contributors: Josh Staub – VFX Supervisor, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Alessandro Jacomini – Lighter, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Disney Animation Studios is also excited to support the SIGGRAPH Student Volunteers. Representatives from the studio will share examples of storytelling techniques tailored to students showcasing their skills and varied experiences on resumes, reels and portfolios.