SIGGRAPH is known for its 3D animation and computer graphics. Having never attended, I wasn’t sure there would be enough relevant or inspirational to me. There was! From a pure interest level, there were sessions on the making of “Benjamin Button”, “Terminator” and “Transformers”. I was amazed by the amount of work and level of detail that goes into each shot. The making of the digital Schwarzenegger was particularly interesting! It inspired me and even got me thinking about how to incorporate some of the 3D aspects into my 2D world. At the base of all is the storytelling. If an audience connects to the story and characters, you will have a succesful piece, whether that be a film, game or even website.
Monday’s keynote speaker, Randy Thom of Skywalker Sound spoke about designing a movie for sound and the importance sound has as a character in a film. In creating successful sound for your film, consider what your characters HEAR and remember that dialog, music and sfx in most cases should be like a baton being passed – not happening all at once. This got me excited about animating to sound again as my CalArts thesis, “Everybody Bowl” was created based on sound recordings I did at bowling alleys.
I loved the emerging technologies exhibits featuring everything from “multimodal flooring” (that simulated standing on a frozen pond – as it’s CRACKING beneath you!) to 3D teleconferencing to garment folding robots!
One of the best talks came from Will Wright (creator of Sims and Spore) on “Playing with Perception” and the idea of being an “entertainment designer”. As consumers, we search out forms of entertainment that fit our current mood (experiential/voyeuristic, story or play). Such a great observation, I never viewed our target audiences by their current moods! Knowing our targets may be up for silly comedy one night and an AFC fight the next gives us more insight into how to design for them. He also discussed captured vs. synthetic images and imagined vs. actual realities and that much of the interesting new work is coming at the very crossroad of these four dimensions.
I ended my stint at this year’s conference with the Computer Animation Festival. For the first time, they allowed the real-time animation of games to be part of the festival which I thought was a great addition. A beautiful new game called “Flowers” was the highlight. The live demonstrator “flew” a group of flower petals around a grassy field growing larger as he passed over patches of flowers. A few other favorites included “Partly Cloudy“, “Anima” and “Window Pains“.
I left the conference feeling inspired and excited to animate something new!
Oh, and I got one of the coveted Pixar walking teapots!