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San Diego Convention Center

Balboa Park

Gaslamp District

Digital Domain Nuke

Luxology Modo

People with LCD backpacks

SIGGRAPH 2003 - San Diego
Report and Pictures by Jeremy Birn.

It was mercifully cool here during the week of SIGGRAPH 2003, and the locals were friendly, even to those of us who didn't speak their language.  People visiting  la conferencia by day partied and club-hopped through the night in San Diego's bustling Gas Lamp District.  On a free morning I got up early and explored the paths and architecture of nearby Balboa Park. Overall, San Diego was a great location.

A Suggestion

Since 1985, SIGGRAPH has visited many cities, but has neglected the San Francisco Bay Area, the home of companies such as Pixar, ILM, PDI, Tippett Studio, and ESC Entertainment, home of Silicon Valley with Apple, Sun, SGI, and other tech companies, home of several of the world's top universities and colleges teaching computer science and computer arts, and home of the Moscone Convention Center with more than enough space in the heart of San Francisco.  For visitors, the Bay Area offers an eyefull of attractions for people tired of visiting LA so many times.  If you agree that SIGGRAPH should finally schedule a conference in San Francisco, please take a moment to contact members of the Conference Advisory Group with your thoughts on this issue.

New Products from Luxology and Digital Domain

Digital Domain was showing Nuke, the compositing and visual effects software that formerly was only used in-house at Digital Domain. This is the first year that they are selling Nuke to the public, at $5,995 per interactive license, and $995 for render-only licenses, on a choice of Windows, Linux, or SGI platforms.  It is a node-based compositor (like Shake, Digital Fusion, etc.) that works fully in Floating Point or HDR imagery with up to 32 channels (red, green, blue, alpha, plus depth, masks, and any other information) being passed between nodes.  The fully integrated 3D camera model and support for wrapping images around different objects seemed to be a unique feature not matched in competing software, and they claim there are speed and efficiency advantages compared to other compositors available for Windows.  Future builds of Nuke will be sold the customers in the same versions used in-house, which means on one hand that outside customers will always get their latest features, but on the other hand that it is likely to keep the feel and functionality of in-house software.

Luxology, the company founded by Brad Peebler (best known as a Lightwave guru while he worked at NewTek), finally held a launch event to show the new software they are developing. The first product, that will be going into beta in a few months, is a sub-division surface modeler called Modo.  The core architecture they are developing, however, is clearly designed to host more than just a modeler.  The interface seemed to set high standard for a flexible, scalable, user-controled GUI that knows how to get out of the way when it wasn't needed.  The modeling functions demonstrated looked very fast, smooth, and well designed, with innovative new approaches to deformation, manipulators, and maintaining UV coordinates on surfaces while they are sliced and edited.  Because Modo is just a modeler, prospective customers would have to export models to another program such as Maya for character animation.  Modo will need to stay ahead of built-in modelers in some animation programs, and keep the pricing reasonable, if they want to get Modo adopted in many companies - but as it stands now, I am classifying Luxology as "worth watching" and will be eager to see how they develop their technology over the next year or two.  Fittingly, the Modo preview immediately followed a demonstration of Kaydara's Motion Builder 5, an animation program that does not include a modeler - originally called Filmbox, Kaydara's product had been marketed as a tool for cleaning-up and editing motion capture data, but has grown into a flexible animation and performance editing tool that can be used for entirely keyframed performances as well.

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Pictures and Article Copyright © 2003 by Jeremy Birn www.3dRender.com