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SIGGRAPH Asia Wraps First Hybrid Edition in Tokyo

2021 conference brought together over 3,000 computer graphics industry attendees from 41 countries, overcoming significant obstacles to attend the live program at the Tokyo International Forum in Japan.

This year’s edition of SIGGRAPH Asia, themed ‘LIVE!,’ marked the very first hybrid edition in ACM SIGGRAPH’s history. SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 overcame significant obstacles and challenges due to the pandemic, and successfully concluded its live program at the Tokyo International Forum in Japan. Running December 14-17, the event reunited over 3,000 attendees from 41 countries and regions. The onsite event was held in compliance with COVID-19 regulations set by the government, local authorities, and the exhibition industry, ensuring the safety and well-being of all in-person attendees.

“Despite a lack of clarity as to what lies ahead due to COVID-19, we decided in summer of this year to conduct the very first hybrid SIGGRAPH Asia,” said Shuzo John Shiota, Conference Chair of SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 and CEO, Polygon Pictures Inc. “It turned out to be a massive undertaking, as COVID continued to obstruct our progress. Against adverse conditions, we were able to create an illustrious conference, providing great insights into the current world of computer graphics and interactive techniques, as well as rekindling the SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia communal spirit, both online and onsite. I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who have contributed to this enormous undertaking.”

“I am extremely proud of what the SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 team has achieved this year, pulling off an incredible show onsite and online,” added Prakash Ramajillu, SIGGRAPH Asia Chief Staff Executive & Division Director (Technology, DigitalMedia, Entertainment & Mobility), Koelnmesse Pte Ltd. “The feedback from the global Computer Graphics community has been very positive, reaffirming our stand to continue holding the hybrid event despite the many curve balls being thrown at us due to COVID-19. It’s amazing how this industry is so closely knit and supportive of one another. We look forward to creating an even larger reunion for the CG industry next year in Daegu, South Korea!”

The conference presented a diverse range of program sessions; close to 130 speakers presented in-person, while around 400 presenters joined the virtual platform to discuss the latest industry developments and future of the computer graphics and interactive techniques industry. The exciting line-up featured distinguished keynote speakers such as Toru Katsumoto, Executive Deputy President and CTO at Sony Group Corporation, and Matt Omernick, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Akili Interactive. Toru Katsumoto’s session on “Creativity x Technology - How to fill the world with emotion” reviewed the history of innovation in the creative industry and discussed possibilities enabled by technology made available to creators in the fields of music, movies and games. Matt Omernick’s session on “Video Games as Medicine” dived into how Digital Therapeutic products like EndearvorRx are changing the face of medicine, and how cognitive health and entertainment will live harmoniously together in the future.

Other highlights from the conference included the Featured Sessions program, which invited industry figureheads such as Bandai Namco Studios, Weta Digital, DNEG, DNEG Animation, Kamizake Douga, MacLean Visual Effects, Sola Digital Arts, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, SQUARE ENIX, Toei Animation, Ubisoft Divertissements, giving the community exclusive insights on the remarkable VFX work behind films like Dune, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Blade Runner, Apple TV's Foundation series, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Wish Dragon, Ron's Gone Wrong, all now available on-demand on the virtual platform.

The Technical Papers program continues to be the anchor program of SIGGRAPH Asia and showcased 94 specially curated papers. The Technical Papers at SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 adhere to the highest scientific standards and are chosen through a rigorous and highly refined peer-review process. This year, SIGGRAPH Asia had most of the presenters beamed onsite at the Tokyo International Forum, to take on live questions from the local and online attendees.

The Trade Exhibition featured close to 30 virtual and onsite exhibitors showcasing the latest developments in hardware and software applications in the Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques space. Companies and brands include FORUM8, IMAGICA GROUP, Digital Hollywood University, KONICA MINOLTA, Amazon Web Services, BANDAI NAMCO, Carpe Diem Solutions, CyberAgent, ELSA Japan, Houdini SideFX, Huawei Russian Research Institute, NVIDIA, NHK Art, iPresence and SkyVision. iPresence created a virtual SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 exhibition tour, which allows remote attendees to travel into the exhibition hall from anywhere around the world.

Exhibitor Talks covered technical topics such as using Houdini in medical product design and medical visualization; digital content creation on AWS; IMAGICA GROUP and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology’s R&D on video content creation for their innovative displays on how to provide viewers with visual experiences; and NTT Human Informatics Laboratories sharing of the cutting-edge Tokyo Olympics 2020 project and the world of live entertainment in the Metaverse era.

The Experience Hall, held in the same venue as the Trade Exhibition, encompasses the Art Gallery, Emerging Technologies and XR showcases. In the Art Gallery, 15 cutting-edge works were selected from 147 submissions, addressing questions of what the rituals, behaviors and modes of the future will look like in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Art Gallery Curation Committee also hosted a gallery tour for the Japanese audience during the exhibition days. Additionally, Art Gallery talks were held virtually to discuss the future of art and the role of art gallery in the face of new factors such as the pandemic and NFTs.

The Emerging Technologies program, themed “Awaken Our Bodies,” showcased 19 exhibits onsite and online which included novel and high-quality 3D projection mapping technologies, haptic interfaces, robotic avatars and virtual humans, input interfaces, music experiences, and VR experiences with novel sensation like wet, temperature, wind, and scent. Live demonstrations and Q&A sessions took place concurrently for both onsite and online delegates.

Attendees explored the XR program to discover 19 immersive technologies and experiences such as Dislocation, which examined the internal processes that develop during a dislocation and offers a visual depiction of a person forced into extreme circumstances. Another interesting XR showcase was the Dementia Eyes – a mobile AR experience which simulates the visual symptoms of senile dementia based on pathology and medical workers’ experience with patients. Live demonstrations and Q&A sessions took place concurrently for both onsite and online delegates.

Live drawing performances and CG Production Meetup also took place at the Experience Hall Talk Stage, in the Experience Hall. The live drawing performances by BANDAI NAMCO Studios, Ubisoft Entertainment, SQUARE ENIX and SAFEHOUSE were heavily attended onsite. These live performances were recorded and will be uploaded onto the virtual platform for the online attendees. CG Production Meetup featured 48 companies from the Games, Interactive Techniques, Computer Graphics and Animation space, and attracted over 300 students for the 2 sessions on December 15 and 16.

Real-Time Live!, a showcase of virtual technologies demonstrated live in front of our onsite and online attendees, wrapped up SIGGRAPH Asia 2021. As a part of the hybrid event, five local presenters showcased their demonstration on stage at Tokyo International Forum, while the other four livestreamed their demonstrations.

Artists and Creators Recognized at SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 – Awards

SIGGRAPH Asia 2021 presented the following artists and creators with various awards in recognition of their top-notched works:

The winners for Real-Time Live! are:

The annual Computer Animation Festival, with its signature Electronic Theater and Animation Theater screenings, showcased the latest, most compelling and innovative animated works of the last year, both through in-person screenings and the online platform.

The Computer Animation Festival winners are:

  • BEST IN SHOW: Twenty Something (USA), Director: Aphton Corbin
  • BEST STUDENT PROJECT: Le Retour des Vagues (France), Directors: Manon Cansell, Alejandra Guevara Cervera, Edward Kurchevsky, Francisco Moutinho de Magalhães, Hortense Marian
  • BEST STUDENT PROJECT: Les larmes de la Seine (France), Directors: Yanis Belaid, Eliott Benard, Nicolas Mayeur, Etienne Moulin, Hadrien Pinot, Lisa Vicente, Philippine Singer, Alice Letailleur
  • JURY SPECIAL: Only a Child (United Kingdom, Switzerland), Director: Simone Giampaolo

The Emerging Technologies program will also be announcing their winner for the ‘Best Online Demonstration Award’ soon.  

Registration may be closed, but the virtual platform remains open and accessible to attendees to watch the on-demand content through March 11, 2022. Next year’s edition, SIGGRAPH Asia 2022, will be held at EXCO, Daegu, South Korea, from December 6-9, 2022. Visit http://sa2022.siggraph.org for more details.

Source: SIGGRAPH Asia 2021

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.

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