Today was pretty slow, a chapters meeting, new infrastructrure and ideas for rolling up ACM membership in SIGGRAPH membership to cut down on confusion. Had a nice lunch out by the pool (with topless sunbathers!).
Afterwards we took a tour of the convention center. In honor of George Lucas giving the keynote they have a X-Wing mockup in the lobby. They also have a Mars rover over in the South Lobby.
After picking up chapters schwag, picking up the Animation Festival DVD's we settled down to a great Korean dinner at a restaraunt with floaty, water ball in the center, very cool. (pics to come later)
Tomorrow is first day of courses and I am torn between Digital Impostors (making CG replacements for actors) or the ETech Panel on Interactive Narrative. Facade was released a few months ago (finally!) and I am wondering if it has made a splash in academic circles yet.
LA is the same as I remember it - hot and crowded. Like Texas but with no space.
Registration was just like last time I was here, except this time they seemed to want to play games with the attendees There was a big sign off the left that said in summary "Please Register Here" but two people were placed on both sides to explain to us that this was not the queue we were looking for. You still get a metric ton of proceedings and assorted insert fluff. If they wanted to do something useful they should get NVidia and ATI to sponsor sticking green and red condoms in the bags.
Another interesting thing was the iPod looking posters at the info booth. Will Apple try and send a C&D to ACM?
I will not be working on a secure realtime data website for my paying gig or a Windows client for my favorite place to discover cool things - del.icio.us, nor will I be working on the asset management for these guys.
I will be getting up early, going parties and getting to bed late, going to papers and session that have math that is at the outer edges of what I can grasp, I will be walking up and down the length of the LA convention center in this monstrosity and I might be meeting people from #joiito.
In other words, I will be having fun. Next stop, LA.
... or more precisely a hole in the functionality of Orkut. A frequent #joiito'er (tangra) was able to send email to all of orkut.com's 8000 or so users. No scripting, no SQL injections. Just using the buttons they provided. Of course, I had to hit the History Eraser button. (Reply All)
I have the 121 page screen grab as proof. This just goes to show that if there is a will, there is a way. Security should be an important part of your testing strategies. I guess thats what betas are for.
PS: Another feature was found later on. All the pictures of people are in a publically accessable directory. I snagged about 5500 before Orkut cut it off, I am thinking a photomosaic is in order. :)
But seriously, if someone had figured out how to mine personal data this would be a bit more serious. As of today (1/25/04) Orkut has quit sending out invites. I guess they are going to let us lucky 8873 play for a while.
The Matrix sketches session was AWESOME!! The level of effort put forth to digitally double actors in the movie is incredible. People actually gave a damn and pushed to do "the right thing" and the result is nothing short of incredible.
First off the production house, ESC teamed up with Surface Optics in San Diego to measure the BDRF of the clothes tht the actors wore. They used a $200K scanner developed for the military for designing the radar absorbing coatings of various stealth fighters. And why did ESC get the hook up? Because the scientists kids loved the Matrix. Who'd guessed. :-)
They used nothing but textures to capture the actors expressions. No 3D animation was harmed in the making of the faces. They shot the actors with hi-res Sony HD cams and use lightflow techniques to build animated textures for each actors expression.
Next they uses a Arius 3D scanner to get the a 100 micron scan of the actors faces to get pore and wrinkle detail. Map that to the animated face textures. Do a little lighting magic with a perfect grey sphere and some HDRI mapping in mental ray -- voila! Instant Burly Brawl. Piece of Cake :-)
Today is Sketches and Applications day. I went to the Weta and Hulk sketches. We got to see how Weta lit all the important people in LOTR:TTT and how they did Treebeard. I thought they had only used iniatures in the flood scene. Turns out they had a animatronic Treebeard, they used in various shots and had to recreate his beard, which turned out to be harder than it seems.
Wedged inbetwen WETA and Hulk was a presentation by Digital Domain on the old vs young Micheal Jordan, Nike commercial. The coolest thing in it was the vertex to UV mapping piece. They mapped UV textures to model space and it allowed them to wiggle and stretch the skin under artistic control.
Today was a moderately serene day. I went to the "Simulating Nature" course and the "Large Displays for Commodity HW". But their definition of commodity started at about $100K. I feel cheated. The simulation coures was nice, Jos Stam is always doing impossible things, Ebert and Muscgrave are simply legends in the "making things look natural" field. So the morning course was very good.
After leaving the Large Display course I returned to the Exhibit floor, scored much cool swag and got to see lots of interesting tech. Pixar was showing off Renderman (just PRMAN) running on a G5 (one of only 2 on the floor). Saw a great demo from a company called Allegorithmic that has software that lets normal artists build procedural texture maps, edit them artistically and they remain procedural. Nice
Web based 3D has boomeranged with a vengence. ManyOne, SecondLife and others were out on the floor. Mark Pesce has been reduced to writing books about DirectX video..... geez. As an early adopter of VRML and a beta tester for the late great Cosmo Worlds, all i can say is it is about friggin' time.
Other cool things: 3D printers were thick as thieves on the floor and they were priced below H2's. On demand fabrication here we come! A company that projects video on a piece of glass that was brighter than a normal rear projector ala Minority Report ads.
Later that evening we went to the Electronic Theatre to check out the cream of the crop in computer animation. This years theatre was a lot more sedate than 2002. The years best of show was "Eternal Gaze" by Sam Chen. It is based on a quote by the 20th century sculptor Alberto Giacometti, who said - "The difference between the living and the dead is the gaze...". It was both creeoy on poignant at the same time. I guess the good art whacks you in the stomach at least once while viewing it, Sam succeeded.
The other memorable animation was about DNA. How it folds in upon itself to form a double helix (there three previous sub-twistings before you get to the helix part) and an animation of DNA getting replicated. I have read about this many times, but to actually see it animated remined me of all the important things computer animation can do besides bringing Tolkien to life. Mankind''s ability to use tools to further civilization makes the transhumanist in me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
All in all a very cool day.
Tomorrow: Treebeard, The Hulk, Emerging Tech, The Matrix and the Renderman User Group Meeting!
All I have to say is that the Chapters party was incredible. The comimitee that planned this one knows what makes a great party. There was dancing, plenty of libations and much fun to be had by all. Never having been to the Chapters party, it was a great beginning.
The club we were at had a unique background -- On Broadway's building used to be a bank. So down in the basement there was a vault, an honest to god, walk inside hunk of steel. It was one of those cool round ones with see through locking mechanisms and the bolts eminating from the edges of the door. The inside was a large pool room with couches and plenty places to snuggle and talk. There many other themed rooms, one was an Indian themed room with a large multi-armed woman in tiles in the floor. I even have photographic proof that geeks can dance!
We left about 12:30, but my friends, Brandon and Marshall said it went on until last call at 2AM. If you ever come to SIGGRAPH and like to party, the Chapters one is a definite must attend!
Tomorrow: Simulating Nature, Large Scale Commodity Displays and the all important Electronic Threatre.
Just got back from the ILM special session. Most groovy! We had four animators / animation directors tell us what made them passionate about animation. A common thread was the fact they did things when they were kids. Either stop motion with a Super-8 camera or real mini movies. It made me remember that technology is only part of good movie making.
The coolest thing we got to see (outside af Dan Taylor's home movies) was Ang Lee doing mo-cap for the Hulk. He did several *emoting* scenes and the smashing of the tank. I guess there is now no excuse for a performance not being exactly what the director wants, since we can just mocap the director.
I am off to the SIGGRAPH Chapters party... Hopefully much partying will be had for all!