SIGGRAPH & DigiPro 2019


SIGGRAPH starts this week in Los Angeles and we will be reporting all week.  We will also be posting a stack of images on our social media feeds such as our Instagram feed.


On the Saturday before SIGGRAPH each year there is the DigiPro conference. fxguide has been to every DigiPro since they started for the last 9 years. Since the first show, we have been the annual DigiPro photographer documenting the event. Below are some fun pics from the event. DigiPro is aimed at TDs and CTOs, it is a cross between technical papers and production sessions. The conference has always sold out, and this year was no different.

The conference cover inhouse tools from companies such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, the Mill and many others. The keynote this year was from Justin Thompson, the production designer and Danny Dimian, the visual effects supervisor on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse  (Sony Pictures Imageworks).

Danny Dimian the visual effects supervisor for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Justin Thompson, (Production Designer) discussing Sony Pictures Animation’s Oscar winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

One of the nice aspects of this year’s conference was that for the first time the entire senior team were all women. DigiPro is making a really strong effort to balance the conference and be inclusive. The team did a great job and the event once again delivered a great set of insightful talks on the cutting edge tools used in production around the world.

Symposium Co-Chairs:  Barbara Balents, (BB Consulting). Sandy Kao, DreamWorks Animation, Program Co-Chairs: Trina Roy, (Pixar Animation Studios) and Rachel Rose, (ILM)
Orde Stevanoski, who presented SpLit, a lighting manipulation tool created at Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Daniel Heckenberg, Academy Software Foundation.


SpLit was a very popular talk, from SPI. SpLit is a lighting manipulation tool designed to encourage experimentation and creativity when creating and manipulating CG lighting via a novel and artist friendly visual interface. Orde and the team discovered that their artists are often discouraged from experimenting and making sweeping lighting changes due to the complexity of the currently available user interfaces for CG lighting. Manipulating, rendering and evaluating the decisions is a cyclical process that requires multiple clicks through various UI elements, and the rendering takes time to resolve to a point where the results of the changes can be evaluated. Their measure of success was simply to make artists smile when using the software.

SpLit uses the AOV from the pipeline to allow light modifications via the traditional light controls of light exposure and color, as represented in Katana/Arnold. While an impressive standalone development running with the Katana , Orde ‘leaked’ at the end of his talk that they already have a Nuke implementation running.


The Technical Advisory Committee coordinates technical efforts in the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) and Daniel Heckenberg updated the DigiPro community about what has happened since it was. first launched in August 2018.  The ASWF’s purpose is to support open source software development in the motion picture content creation industry. Software engineers from the Foundation’s members and software projects form the TAC, so the DigiPro community is very much the group involved in supporting the ASWF. He outlined the key role the SSWF has had already in establishing and promulgating best practices, proposing and scrutinizing candidate projects and establishing shared resources such as Continuous Integration infrastructure. OpenVDB is the first project to make it all the way through the process and the newest is Pixar’s contribution of OpenTimelineIo. This is the proposed Open Source API and interchange format for editorial timeline information.


Barathy Rangarajan, S/W engineer at Dreamworks Animation
Victor Yudin, Mill Film discussing Millefiori: A USD-Based Sequence Editor.

Millefiori is a visual effects application designed to allow users to view and edit a series of large scenes, leveraging Pixar Universal Scene Description (USD) in its core, and Qt/QML for the UI components.  This talk was really interesting given both the huge interest in USD and that Millefiori at its core was designed as a sequence editor.

Since it was started Millefiori has grown, and while it was initiated as a sequence editor, its USD-based core has since formed the basis of the entire pipeline at Mill Film, from editing a USD stage to generating review QuickTimes. Development of the Millefiori technology was a successful collaboration of developers led by Mill Film, MPC R&D, and Technicolor Research and Innovation. We will be providing more on Millefiori later this week here at fxguide.

Weta Digital’s Marketing Manager, Amy Minty
Andrew Krovopuskov, CEO of R3DS (Black Tshirt) and the Russian 3DScanner team.

Russian3DScanner (R3DS) team were not presenting at DigiPro but the team are in town to preview their newest technology while we will be covering later in the week here at fxguide. R3DS is a leading in topology and warp and this is particularly key in digital humans and 3D face pipelines. More soon !

Johanna Barbier (Foundry) talking about experimenting with Machine Learning in Post-Production Software
Dan Ring and Johanna Barbier, the Foundry.

The Foundry’s Dan Ring and Johanna Barbier presented some of the current challenges to experimentation and deployment of ML frameworks in the postproduction industry.  They introduced the Foundry’s open-source “ML-Server” client / server system as an answer to enabling rapid prototyping, experimentation and development of ML models in post-production software.

fxguide broke the news about the introduction of the ML server here.

Since we first reported the system has been very well received, especially for the speed of doing this type of work, although there are issues that still remain to be solved – such as data security and training data ownership, the results possible from companies working with ML server are remarkable The team gave examples of work being done on the ML-Server in noise reduction, roto, segmentation, deblur and others, by teams inside companies such as DNEG.

Larry Cutler (Baobab Studios) with Co-Chair of DigiPro Trina Roy, (Pixar Animation Studios)
Jean-Michel Blottière who is organizing a new Real-time Conference later this year.

We will be posting more all week from LA. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and of course check back here for the latest news.