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Drawing on Wacom Cintiq

nVidia G-Force FX demo

Many US schools had booths

As well as international

Studios had booths for recruiting

Resumes, cards, and work samples posted

Neat Hardware

Wacom was showing their Cintiq 18SX, an 18" flat panel monitor that doubles as a drawing tablet for use with Photoshop or other applications.  Since you can put it on your desk or lap, and even hold it at an angle, you should be able to draw on this screen without suffering from "light pen elbow."  Shame it costs $3,500.

nVidia was running interactive demos showing realtime shadow casting, effects, and a detailed character with nicely painted skin (by Steven Giesler), realtime hair, and adjustable shader attributes.  The Dawn demo is well done, although similar demos could apparently be run on competing graphics cards.  With graphics cards gaining all of these capabilities, I hope that within the next few years we finally get previews of lighting and shadows while lights are aimed and adjusted in leading 3D animation programs.

The Job Market

The Expo floor this year was a fraction of its former size, and yet this seemed to be a record year for the number of schools and training centers setting up booths.  Some of the best shwag (free stuff) was being given away at the school booths as well.  Training has become a large, profitable part of the computer graphics industry, because it seems that students always want to get trained in this field whether there are jobs for them afterwards or not.  While many professionals had to miss the conference this year due to tight production schedules, students showed up in force.  Even sales pitches at Users Group Meetings seemed to target students, saying "our brand is the new industry standard, you have to learn our brand."

The biggest new trend right now is that almost every studio wants to start releasing computer animated feature films within the next few years.  The Hollywood Reporter reports an "industry wide consensus that the one surefire formula for box office success these days is animated 3-D comedies." and concludes that "Prevailing theory is that all roads lead to jokes told by cute multidimensional CG characters."  We have to remember that every time Hollywood considers something a "sure thing" they always release several similar films at the same time, people get tired of them, many flop, and after that more of these films are not financed. 

Several studios had booths at SIGGRAPH at which they were recruiting or accepting demo reels, and advertising their upcoming feature film projects.  The studios were interviewing a lot, but looking mostly for qualified professionals, and nobody was scooping up too many of the inexperienced art students who flooded the show floor.  While it takes experienced pros to start a new production pipeline, perhaps there will be more entry level hiring next year when more of the new productions move into full swing.  Still, this is an ironic situation: if most of the students can't find work in the boom time when many new companies are hiring, how much worse will it get when this bubble bursts in a few years?

Due to necessary cutbacks, some attendees had been worried about the closing of the "Career Center" area this year, but the large bulletin board for people to post resumes and job announcements seemed to suffice for smaller companies and independent recruiters (who don't have their own booth) to be able to contact and interview 3D artists.  SIGGRAPH remains the best place to go if you want to network with people in the industry and try to get a job.

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