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Disney's 2005 film Chicken Little

ILM's booth attracted many showreels

New Renderman versions at Pixar booth

Job-seekers post their resumes

Chapters Party at the Mayan

Company Booths

Disney made a fairly bold move by showing scenes and technologies from their movie Chicken Little, which doesn’t come out until Summer 2005.  They showed several scenes from it in a sketch on how the characters were rigged, and were showing some of the animation tools they made for it at their booth.  Most companies would have waited until next year to do that.

People eagerly flocked to booths representing ILM, Dreamworks, Pixar, and other studios, to drop off their demo reels, or ask questions of the human resources departments and other employees.  The large number of students in attendance were disappointed that most of the hiring was for more senior positions and there were not many entry-level jobs.

Pixar

Over at the Pixar booth, Incredibles movie posters were being given away, which tended to be all gone by 10:30 or 10:40 each morning, just as the Nemo posters were last year.

As seems to happen every year, Pixar was showing off a new version of RenderMan (press release), featuring among other things the final end to eyesplits problems.  Pixar also made a more surprising announcement, that later this year they will ship a simpler, lower-cost ($995) package called simply “Renderman for Maya.” (press release)  RfM will be designed for independent artists or smaller companies, and will be tightly integrated into Maya, running as a plug-in component.  It will allow you to use existing Maya shaders, lights, and scene elements such as hair and fur, just by switching the “Render Using” menu to "Renderman."  While emulating and sharing memory with Maya might not be everyone's cup of tea, it will still provide the performance of Renderman 12, including the speed of motion blur, depth of field, sub-pixel displacement, and anti-aliasing.  Apparently it will allow people to use compiled Renderman shaders as well as the emulation of what’s in Hypershade, but it doesn’t look as if it would include SLIM.  RfM might open the doors to Renderman for a lot of new users, but it clearly isn't designed to replace Renderman Pro Server or RAT for big studios or power-users: it will not read or write .rib files, it can not run as a stand-alone outside Maya, and it will be sold only for Windows and Mac OS X, with no Linux release planned.

The Electronic Theater and The Animation Theater

The Electronic Theater, always one of the main highlights of the show, was fairly good this year, although they held it in a hall of the convention center instead of dignifying it with a proper movie theater environment (perhaps this cutback was related to the elimination of mid-day shuttle service this year, which would have been needed to take people to the matinee screenings.)  The Animation Theater (the screenings of things that were either longer than fit into the ET, or could be considered runners-up) was actually better than usual.  On some years the Animation Theater is just running in a loop with a hodge-podge of clips, this year it was nicely organized into categories such as commercials and effects, held in a nice room, and was genuinely worth seeing.

Parties

At the end of the day, SIGGRAPH is all about computer graphics professionals (and students and hobbyists) getting together into a group 30,000 strong, to meet old friends and acquaintances, make new contacts, and have fun.  Gone are the days when all the big studios hosted huge, lavish parties for SIGGRAPH attendees (that mostly happened in the late 1990’s when they were heavily recruiting), this year the “best party” award goes to Blur Studio for their event at the Henry Fonda theater, featuring Crystal Method.  The different gatherings this year were large and small, official and unofficial, but overall, meeting up with other people is the main event that brings most of us back to the convention every year.

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3dRender.com : Industry & Jobs : SIGGRAPH 2004 : page 1 | page 2 | page 3
Pictures and Article Copyright © 2004 by Jeremy Birn