SIGGRAPH 2011!

Last week was an exhuasting week in Vancouver, attending and speaking at SIGGRAPH-2011.  For those unfamiliar, SIGGRAPH is a huge academic computer graphics conference.  This year, students and faculty from Seneca College‘s Centre for Development of Open Technology, presented a talk titled: Processing.js: Sketching with <canvas>.  This talk was authored by Andor Salga, Daniel Hodgin, Anna Sobiepanek, Scott Downe, Michael Medel and myself.  Before we start I want to give a big round of thanks to everyone involved with the paper.  Not only to the authors, but also to  the support from our other colleagues for their reading, re-reading and revising of the paper and the presentation.

Our talk was scheduled on the Monday of the conference (2nd day) in a Session called Changing Dimensions.  There were originally suppose to be 4 talks in this session but one talk pulled out at the last minute leaving only 3.  The other two talks were about converting 2D animations to 3D animations and the methods used to do so.  We were the last of the 3 talks.  Before we gave the talk, I was really happy with the sketches we had put together, the demos that we had done and our slides in general.  Yes, there was indeed a lot of programmer art but it was neat and tidy.  Then the first presentation was about creating stereoscopic 3D version of the lion king…which of course sets the bar a lot higher.  However, considering what we were talking about, I was still very happy at what we have done.  We will post these slides soon, but we felt that a voice over would probably help quite a bit so holding off on this for now.

One of the weird things I had found about our talk was that it seemed to be not really related to the other 2 talks in the same session.  Both of those and the one that was cancelled were all about stereoscopic 3D so our web graphics related talk seemed a bit out of place.  Other than the part of the paper where we said “we implemented the 3D portion of processing.js” I don’t quite see how we had fitted there.  However, after the talk, we had many people come and ask us questions about pjs.  People were interested in using it.  One of the people who came up to us after was actually a former student of mine who had moved out to Vancouver.  It was really amazing to see the interest that people had in it.

We attended the SIGGRAPH reception.  It was good, we had a chance to wander and relax.  I admit I faded earlier than Andor and Daniel did so left for the hotel about 30 min earlier.

The next 3 days of SIGGRAPH blurred into one for me.  Two things really stood out for me.  The first , was a Birds of a Feather talk on WebGL.  These were smaller talks but the room was packed full with people going out the door.  We saw some really amazing WebGL demos.  Everything from a robot customizer that you can use to put together a robot for 3D printing (I am totally getting one! :D)  to web based training software for heptic surgery equipment (I am probably not using the right term to describe this).  It is amazing what is possible with WebGL now that it is more readily available.

The second was by one of the developers of X3DOM is a WebGL based JS library that allows a scene to be specified with X3D.  The most amazing part of the talk was about how he encoded an entire mesh as an image and pushing a large mesh that loaded in fractions of a second.  Since XB-pointstream works with very large data sets, something like this would be a really useful technique to transfer the points needed for the point clouds.

Other than the talks, the exhibition and art show were very cool.  There were some really interesting exhibitions.  I also got a chance to do a beginner tutorial with a wacom tablet.  I had never used one before and my ability to draw is … well lets just say that there is a reason I’m not in the art department :).  I had always been amazed at how people could actually draw digitally… I have never had that sort of control of mouse.  With the tablets… I can see how its possible.

We also had a chance to meet up with Steve DiPaolo from SFU.  He was a partner in our CATGames project and it was pretty cool to meet with him again.  He had some interesting project ideas for applications of the work we are doing.

We also attended a BOF for educators that used Processing.  We had a chance to talk with them about Processing.js.  There are many people who use Processing but not as many know about Processing.js so connecting with them was pretty cool.  Spread the word!

Anyhow SIGGRAPH was definitely a positive experience both as a presenter and as an attendee.  It was useful in meeting people who was working in the same field and learning about other projects and techniques.  Definitely worth considering attending next year.

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