On July 24, TurboSquid got together with CGSociety at Siggraph to present a panel called “Teaching CG and VFX Online”. Four instructors talked about the challenges they’ve overcome using online training to teach computer graphics, and then the panel opened up a discussion with the 40-odd attendees.
Michele Bousquet talked about how TurboSquid uses YouTube’s Closed Caption option when creating CheckMate training videos for artists. TurboSquid creates an accurate English language version of the audio so our many non-English speaking artists can use the auto-translate feature to read subtitles in their own language.
Presenters Michele Bousquet, David Luong, Bryan Wynia, Ara Kermanikian
Other panelists talked about the importance of frequent submission and review of students’ work, daily online contact with students to give feedback, and the ability to approximate live training with webinars.
The panel was organized by Kirsty Parkin at CGWorkshops, the CGSociety arm that offers online workshops in a variety of VFX subjects.
Presenters with Kirsty Parkin and Andrew Plumer of CGSociety
Greetings from sunny Anaheim, CA, where the 40th annual SIGGRAPH conference is being held this year. I arrived on Sunday just in time to go to some early sessions and see a few of the exhibits.
Going early gave me time to review the Posters display and play “spot the TurboSquid model”. This year, Andrey Kravchenko’s Masha won the contest hands down.
One of my favorite features of Siggraph is the bookstore. The emphasis this year is on non-platform specific art and technology books, including this suite from Disney.
Dear Santa, I know it’s only July but…
A favorite among early attendees is the Technical Papers Fast Forward, a two-hour roller coaster ride through all the papers being presented at Siggraph. Each presenter gets exactly 30 seconds to preview his or her paper and entice attendees to come to the full presentation later in the week. The Fast Forward is one of the most popular early events at Siggraph, attracting over 2000 attendees this year. Many presenters prepare amusing and informative videos and even dress up as zombies in an effort to attract attendees to their papers.
Crowd at the Technical Papers Fast Forward
The Emerging Technologies exhibition literally got a smile out of me when I visited the Incendiary Reflection presentation. This group from the University of Tokyo posits that emotions can be influenced by our own facial expressions. The image below left shows my actual facial expression, captured by a pinhole camera and displayed on a mirror-like surface in a frame. The image below right appeared gradually a moment later, with my own facial features lightly displaced to form a gentle smile. While it might sound a little creepy, the result actually did make me smile. Future usage could include placement in clothing retailers, where the sight of yourself smiling in that retro 70’s lapel suit might actually convince you to buy it.
The next few days will be a whirlwind of courses, papers, panels, and of course the vendor exhibition. On Wednesday, I’ll be on a panel for the Birds of a Feather meeting “Teaching CG and VFX Online” in Room 202B, 11am-12pm. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood!
Thursday is the last day of the exhibition. It’s time to take some final meetings and make a last sweep through the exhibition and Job Fair to see what’s up. I met some of our friends from CGSociety for lunch where we talked about some interesting collaborations for the upcoming year, including the possibility of offering CheckMate classes as part of their very successful CGWorkshops.
With Kristy and Andrew from CGSociety
In the NewTek booth, there was a lot of excitement around Lightwave 11. Although the release wasn’t new at Siggraph, there were nonstop presentations to large crowds interested in new dynamics tools and shaders for 11.5 (due out at the end of the year), and Lightwave’s seemingly bulletproof FBX import/export. For the occasion, NewTek brought back a familiar face: Kiki Stockhammer, the notorious demo jockey for the Video Toaster in the 1990’s. Kiki, who always knew her stuff, was an inspiration back when SIGGRAPH was very light on female attendance. Nowadays Kiki’s main occupation is Lead Singer in the Star Trek homage band Warp 11, but she’s returned to NewTek as a part-time presenter.
3D gals gotta stick together!
And what SIGGRAPH would be complete without swag? Strangely, the best swag was at the Job Fair. While I searched for a candidate for our newly listed Senior Technical Artist position, I picked up a few items to take home.
Belt pack from Globo
Mouse pad from Keyshot
Slot machine from WMS
On my way out, I discovered that SIGGRAPH was holding a $3 sale on Electronic Theater and Animation Festival DVDs from years past. This was, of course, impossible to resist. With my arms fully laden, I left the convention center with visions of home-based film festivals in the comfort of my living room, complete with microwave popcorn.
11 DVDs with more than 24 hours of animation and CG. Yes, I will be rather busy this weekend.
And with that, I bid a fond farewell to SIGGRAPH. Until next year, that is!
Today TurboSquid held a Birds of a Feather meeting on 3D modeling standards. About 100 3D professionals and students joined us for a lively discussion on the CheckMate standard in its current form, and possible future developments. In attendance were CheckMate Advisory Board member Jed Denjean along with folks from Autodesk, Pixar, Ikea, Boeing, and various other companies involved in 3D modeling.
Michele talks about CheckMate
Then it was back to the exhibition for more technology. I was particularly intrigued by the Keyshot renderer, which imports 3D models created in other programs and creates photorealistic product shots in a matter of minutes. I’m definitely going to try this one out as soon as I can.
The exhibition is finally open, giving us a peek at all the new technology for 3D modeling, animation, motion capture, and rendering. The AMD booth is showing off their lightning-fast graphics cards with this larger-than-life rendering of a female head from TurboSquid artist Komba3d. The rendering, besides being big enough to be seen from space, is absolutely stunning in its detail.
The Pixar booth is always great fun. This year the booth is all about their new movie Brave, with arrows sticking out of odd parts of the booth for emphasis.
You can always count on the graphics card gurus at nVidia to do something cool at SIGGRAPH. Here, they painted a virtual hole in the ground just outside the convention center. I’m not sure what the point of this was, other than to get people to take a picture of it and put it on their blogs. I guess it worked.
Mondays at SIGGRAPH are nice and relaxed. After getting my badge, I checked out the Birds of a Feather meetings. Terry Posthumus from Humber College gave a great talk on how experts are made, not born, and how to apply the 10,000 hours rule popularized by the Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers to become an expert in 3D modeling and animation.
Then I attended the Autodesk Educators event, where we got a sneak peek at all the new features for 3ds Max, Maya, and Mudbox. These are the same features the general public will see at the exhibition Tuesday through Thursday, but I got to see them in a comfortable seat while munching on a delicious array of cookies and dried fruit.
Walking through the vast halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center, you never know what you’re going to find. Small technology teams often set up a mini-booth right there in the hallway, showing off their products old-time market style. One such team is working on software to turn a 3D model into a pattern for fabric, so the model can be constructed as a plush toy. The stuffed animal they had on display was, of course, a giant squid. The technology isn’t ready for consumers yet, but it’s just a matter of time. I can’t wait to own my very own giant squid hat.