Siggraph things ‘to watch out for”

Siggraph 2012

Welcome to the start of our Siggraph 2012 coverage. We will be blogging from the show starting with this run down of what has caught our eye looking to the week ahead.

Talks, starting Sunday.

High End Stereo Effects: Sunday, August 5 2:00pm Room 502AB
Dont let the Siggraph guide fool you – this wont be an “introduction” level course

Digital Domain Stereo Group (DDSG) Director of Production and Operations, Jon Karafin is presenting a course in stereoscopic visual effects on Sunday, August 5 at 2:00pm in Room 502AB. This course has been perhaps grossly mislabeled as an introductory level course by the Siggraph Program team. We spoke at length to the DDSG team last week and it will not be a simple or dumbed down course. In reality this course is one of the only courses on offer this year on stereo and stereo conversion, that will fully explain the maths and science behind great shots and over all, it looks to be highly informative.  Karafin’s current focus is Digital Domain’s new stereography department in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Previously, Jon was VP of Production Operations with In-Three, Inc. and developed stereoscopic facilities in Mumbai, India and LA. Karafin hs worked on several of the all-time highest grossing stereoscopic feature films such as Michael Bay’s Transformers 3 and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Quality In-fill will be discussed

Given Karafin’s background he has been responsible for developing innovative steroscopic techniques that both increase artist efficiency and produce better shots. This course will aim to show the steps required to make converted footage every bit as good and creatively valid as stereo shot material, and in some respects better than stereo sourced material. This is a controversial point, yet most people think that high quality Stereo Animated features have provided some of the best stereo experiences in recent years. Why can converted or rendered stereo be better than shot stereo? It comes down not to issues of errors but of flexibility. Animated (or in Karafin’s case converted footage) can produce effects that in camera stereo can’t, such as having different camera setups in the same shot, applying different disparity to close up actors vs. their distant background.

This is the main stereo course or production talk at Siggraph 2012

But the path to great converted footage has not been easy, and many models of conversion just don’t work for audiences. Karafin in this course shows how to make one’s own disparity map, explains stereo shot design, detailed execution and even how to shoot mono normal footage in the best way for later conversion.  With the huge growth in stereo conversion Karafin will demonstrate with real world examples such as Transformers Dark of the Moon, how DDSG/Inthree have built such a strong reputation in high end conversion. This practical course coupled with killer recent examples makes this a great course for many production and post-production professionals.

Animation Physics

For those in character animation, running almost exactly at the same time as Karatin’s Stereo course on Sunday afternoon is Animation Physics. See our separate story on this course previously taught internally at Dreamworks.



Tech papers fast forward
Sunday Night at 6:00pm

One of the highlights of any Siggraph is the paper’s fast forward. The event is a run through of all of the technical papers on offer, but rather than be a dull summary of dozens of technical papers – it can be both one of the most informative and humorous sessions of Siggraph. Every speaker only has a tiny amount of time to ‘attract’ an audience to their papers later in the week, so every trick, gimmick and visual device you can imagine tends to pop up. But away from the fun, it is also the most effective way possible to sample what the global community is focusing on this year. In one session, you can gauge the trends and breakthroughs of the last 12 months while also exposing yourself to discovering a key break through that often sneaks into Siggraph under a possibly dry and obtuse title. Don’t forget almost every major advance in computer graphics for almost 40 years started public life as a Siggraph paper.

On the show floor

Shotgun Revolver and Tank

The Shotgun booth promises to be very busy as they publicly show their new asset management program Tank. The innovative Engine and Ap approach to asset management is integrated into Nuke, Maya, Photoshop and many others.  It promises to be of huge interest to many people. Fxguidetv will feature this and new particle and sim manipulation tools from Thinkbox in our first Siggraph Ep start of next week.

Shotgun will also show their review tool – that works with RV – called Revolver, which Psyop just adopted for all their Production Management, Review & Approvals. Revolver was announced in April at NAB. It is an all-in-one review toolset making it easy for teams in any location to view their latest work in the context of the cut, browse and compare iterations, annotate on images, write notes and collaborate on shots in real-time. The web-based player provides access to the work from any browser or mobile device.


Maxon will be busy with their announcement of CINEMA 4D Release 14 (R14).
R14 delivers killer performance and a new, integrated sculpting system, plus camera matching functionality, – and exchange plugins for two key applications –The Foundry’s NUKE (with direct export to a NUKE project with multi-pass layers, incl. full support for OpenEXR and FBX files) and Adobe Photoshop – plus improved integration with Adobe After Effects.


Science.D.Visions will show their Release 2 for 3DEqualizer4 Matchmoving Software. This software is used, with site licenses, in four of the world’s top ten Visual Effects houses, including Double Negative, Cinesite, Weta Digital, and the Moving Picture Company (MPC). Individual licenses are around 5000 Euro (~$6000) which makes it the most expensive but some would argue one of the most robust tracking programs around. Siggraph is a great place to see for yourself as it will not ship until 2013.

Recent Films with 3DEqualizer4 Matchmoving work:
Total Recall, Men In Black III, Dredd, John Carter of Mars, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides X-Men: First Class, Paranorman,  Prometheus, The Amazing Spiderman, Mirror Mirror, The Avengers,  Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and more, … (not a bad list!)


There is great news coming from Side Effects – but our lips are sealed…

Side Effects Software booth is #528 and this year represents their 25th year serving the effects and animation community.

Houdini Demo Reel 2012



Hugo making on IN STEREO : This year’s Oscar Winner for VFX
Hugo, Stereo ‘making of’ – Monday 9:00 am

fxguide’s own Mike Seymour is moderating a panel, Hall K, upstairs, right near the Starbucks.

This panel is of real interest as for only the second time ever, the team will screen a ‘making of’ in stereo – this rare in depth reel shows all the on set and green screen work – projected in stereo at the Siggraph session.
The panel will look at the tech behind Oscar winner Hugo from Martin Scorsese. The film won this year’s visual effects Oscar, and this panel aims to discuss the technical aspects of the films effects, including the integration of miniatures.

On the panel is :
Ben Grossmann, Visual Effects Supervisor | Pixomondo Los Angeles

Academy Award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor Ben Grossmann joined Pixomondo in July 2010 just as the studio was beginning work on Martin Scorsese’s 3D adventure epic Hugo. As the lead visual effects provider on the film, Pixomondo created just over 800 shots at ten of the company’s eleven global locations, all of which Grossmann supervised. He also was responsible for overseeing several outside visual effects vendors and served as the primary liaison for those vendors with the production. He was honored with an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his work on the film. His work on Hugo extends his run of multiple project collaborations with legendary film director Martin Scorsese and visual effects supervisor Rob Legato.

Alex Henning, Digital Effects Supervisor | Pixomondo Los Angeles

Dfx Supervisor Alex Henning came on board at Pixomondo in August 2010 as the team for Hugo was being assembled. Having previously collaborated with Scorsese, Pixomondo visual effects supervisor Ben Grossmann, and film visual effects supervisor Rob Legato, Henning was the natural choice to round out the supervision team on Hugo and was instrumental in developing the stereoscopic pipeline for postproduction that enabled Scorsese’s vision to be technically realized. On set in London for three months, Henning supervised visual effects on main and 2nd unit while overseeing the work created at Pixomondo’s London office, including the film’s sweeping opening shot. He was honored with an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his work on the film.

Adam Watkins, Computer Graphics Supervisor | Pixomondo Los Angeles

CG Supervisor Watkins most recently worked on The Amazing Spider-Man for Pixomondo, overseeing the creation of a key bridge sequence among other shots, and developing completely CG sequences that integrated seamlessly with practical plates. Watkins began working at Pixomondo in 2011 as part of the core team managing work on Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which was honored an Oscar. While working on the 3D film, he supervised stereo matchmove and camera pipelines, designed and implemented the crowd pipeline, supervised a key train crash sequence, and designed and choreographed the CG VFX for the film’s sweeping opening shot. .

Matthew Gratzner – Director/Producer New Deal Studios.

Gratzner is a co-founder and creative director at New Deal Studios who did the epic train crash in Hugo.  He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Television Academy and the Visual Effects Society. As a visual effects supervisor, Gratzner has been honored with nominations from the British Film and Television Academy, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and he has received numerous nominations and awards from the Visual Effects Society.

High Frame Rate Technology

The Panel will take place on Wednesday, August, 8 at 10:45 a.m., at the LA Convention Center, Hall K.

Christie’s Dr. Paul Salvini will  moderate the highly anticipated Production Session, the panel features 10 “Hollywood visionaries”:

Douglas Trumbull, Filmmaker
Dennis Muren Industrial Light & Magic
Phil Oatley, Park Road Post Production
Lincoln Wallen, DreamWorks Animation
Jim Beshears, DreamWorks Animation SKG
Darin Grant, Digital Domain
Matthew Cowan, RealD Inc.
Luke Moore Side Effects Software Inc.
John Helliker, Screen Industries Research and Training Centre

Production sessions:

There are quite a few interesting ones this year – but two look especially good.

The Avengers Panel on Monday 2:00-3:30pm.
Industrial Light & Magic and Weta Digital will discuss the unique effects challenges that this incredible film, and how the studios broke new ground with their respective approaches to creating the vfx work. From the Mountain Battle between Iron Man and Thor, to the climatic alien invasion of Manhattan and bringing everyone’s favorite the Hulk to life- the supervisors will detail what worked, what didn’t and the complexities involved in bringing “The Avengers” to the screen.

Victoria Alonso, Executive Producer and Executive Vice President of Visual Effects & Post Production
Jeff White, Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM
Guy Williams, Visual Effects Supervisor, Weta Digital
Marc Chu, Animation Supervisor, ILM
Aaron Gilman Animation Supervisor, Weta Digital

The SPI Hotel Transylvania Animated Feature. Session is 9:00-10:30am on Tuesday.
The film looks really great and isn’t in cinemas until September, so this will be a great preview.

Hotel Transylvania, is about Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without human interference. For one special weekend, Dracula invites some of his best friends – Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more – to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’s 118th birthday. In this session, first-time feature director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Clone Wars) and the creative team behind Hotel Transylvania explore the art, unique animation style, and technical achievements of Sony Pictures Animation’s new animated feature.


Geekfest Foundry Monday night, The Belasco Theatre (by invitation)

Pixar Users group Wednesday night (by invitation). The only place for the limited edition ‘User group’ collectable Teapots. (Don’t worry Renderman event is at 6:00pm, and the other killer parties such as the Shotgun party start after than that, –  if you still have the energy!).

Houdini 25:
The year’s party to end all parties!
ESPN Zone, Tuesday night – starts around 9:00pm until Wednesday morning!
If you are planning to attend, please REGISTER on the Side effects site. You need to be registered.