We wanted to help you plan your SIGGRAPH 2017, as we often do here at fxguide, (and since the SIGGRAPH web site has 66 pages of info). Some years we have focused on the technical papers, this year we are focused on the big and the ‘tiny’ of the world’s premiere graphics conference. We wanted to flag both the big production sessions and some of the tiny gems in the program. To help we sat down with Jerome Solomon, an old friend of fxguide and Conference Chair at ACM SIGGRAPH 2017 in LA.

Jerome Solomon Chair of SIGGRAPH 2017

Starting with the ‘tiny’, this year SIGGRAPH has a Giraffe drawing course with a real giraffe called Tiny!

“It is going to be great, but we have had a real problem working out where to stage it, literally the doors are not high enough to allow Tiny to get in!” explained Solomon. “Right now, I don’t even know where this will be – we are still trying to figure it out.. I mean how do you get a Giraffe into the convention centre?”

Tiny the Giraffe drawing course:

Animal Drawing with Gary Geraths and “Tiny”

Tuesday, 1 August, 9 am-Noon

This workshop is designed to improve dynamic sketching by teaching the gestural, anatomical, and structural nature of animals. The “model” is Tiny, a three-year old, 12-foot giraffe.

Gary Geraths
Otis College of Art and Design

“We will have 30 – 50 seats for this and it is going to be with this great designer from Otis college, …all about how to learn how to draw a giraffe!” explains Solomon.

Another small session that Solomon is proud of this year, is a behind the scenes look at VFX in the Middle East & Syria. Luckily, two of the three presenters were already in the country prior to the US travel ban. To allow the third presenter to participate, SIGGRAPH is organising a Skype call-in from Damascus during the session.

The Syrian VFX Studio Panel is: Behind the Scenes of VFX in the Middle East & Syria
Monday, 31 July, 9-10:30 am
Eli Saliba Mustafa
Sumer Al-Barkaoui
Hind Wiakil (Via Skype from Damascus, Syria  : Lighthouse VFX

This session was initially pitched as a production session, but it does not “really fall inside that program”, commented Solomon. “But we wanted to figure out a way to get it into the conference… as a ‘How do you do VFX in a war zone?’ – sort of perspective”.

SIGGRAPH, this year, is built on the theme of Heart of Computer Graphic and Interactive Techniques. Rather than just a slogan, Solomon has been “really trying to build that into the conference with a lot of things that allow the attendees to really enjoy themselves…to have a great experience.  In addition to technical information, I really want people to enjoy the conference itself”. To this end there is a series of new initiatives and even a new conference “Chair of Attendee Experience“,  all aimed at building a better actual experience of being there in person. These things range ‘providing coffee and bagels in the morning in the hallways’ to having nicer spaces and even supporting the student volunteers more. As part of this move to evolve the conference, Solomon feels that some aspects such as the traditional trade show floor need to “adapt into something different or die” he comments. “so, we are re-inventing part of our tradeshow floor and adding a garage type area, a sort of ‘start up alley’, to make it more of an innovator’s space, in addition to the large company booths”. Solomon feels that SIGGRAPH already attracts key decision makers, but the older school traditional style booth & tradeshow floor is less relevant in an age of wide internet access. Many of the larger companies are also adopting a more collaborative, training focused or hands-on approach, making ‘being in the room’, a real benefit to attendees.


Mission ISS

The notion of needing to ‘be there in the room”, is particularly apparent at both the emerging tech and VR village installation. “There is something great about being there, and quite frankly, a lot of our material is just not available online” comments Solomon. Throughout the week at SIGGRAPH, attendees will be able to explore the potential of real-time immersion in virtual and augmented realities and explore new modes of communication, interaction, and in powering real–world applications in health, art, education, and gaming. Thanks to VR chair Denise Quesnel, these installations include:

  • Artistic and scientific installations, such as Bridget a little mixed reality robot
  • Nomadic (untethered) VR
  • Collaborative and multi-person experiences
  • Games and themed-entertainment such as narrative stories like Summer Camp
  • Unique interactive techniques such as a Wakeboarding exertion game
  • Exploring the International Space Station 250 miles above earth with the Oculus Rift.

fxguide has announced the MeetMike VR experience – link here, where our own Mike Seymour, as part of an international research effort, will be interviewing leading industry figures in VR  – each day.  In addition to this VR experience running everyday for 2 hours in the VR Village, (1.30 to 2.30 Sunday and 10.30 to 12.30 Mon-Thur ), there is also a panel discussion about the technology behind this new digital human project, called Facing Mike on Wednesday 3.45 pm, hosted by Mike Seymour (in person).

“In VR Village’s three year history, we have never had a real-time, interactive demonstration like Meet Mike in VR. It is bringing complexity from last years’ award winning Real-Time Live demo “From Previs to Final in Five minutes: A Breakthrough in Live Performance Capture”, and blending it with an innovative interview format, all in VR. I am very excited to see it in action,” commented Quesnel.

Production Sessions:

Production Sessions, Keynotes, RealTime Live and the Electronic Theatre are in the large halls which hold up to 2,500 people. When SIGGRAPH started the Production sessions, in 2007, there were just 4 events. Today there are over a dozen. SIGGRAPH Production Sessions are a chance for the world’s most talented computer graphics experts explain their processes and techniques. The sessions span all aspects of computer animation, visual effects, games, virtual reality, themed entertainment, and computer graphics applications.

“In many cases, the Studios are willing to show material that can’t be seen anywhere else. A lot of time they sharing things because these companies are part of the SIGGRAPH community and they are not showing this stuff anywhere else… We have really benefited from the very trusted relationship we have built with the companies” comments Solomon. “When we first started, we had to convince the studios to come, now we are lucky enough that the Studios often approach us, so we have been able to get a really great lineup”, commented Solomon.

Production Gallery

This year, the Production Sessions program will be debuting the Production Gallery, which will feature motion picture and games artifacts from major studios. Among the memorabilia will be pitch boards from Disney’s Moana concept artwork and maquettes from Cars 3Overwatch, and Final Fantasy XV; and costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This is in the Concourse Foyer: Sunday to Wednesday  9 am-6 pm.

“We are going to have some awesome production assets and props for people to come along and see at SIGGRAPH which I am really excited about” remarks Solomon.  “The gallery will also showcase an exhibition from Sony Pictures Imageworks’ archives to celebrate its 25th anniversary, with items from Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Men in Black, Ghostbusters, Stuart Little, and more.”


Sony Pictures Imageworks : 25 years

Hosted by fxguide’s Mike Seymour.

The Oscar-winning Sony Pictures Imageworks, has created extraordinary and visually stunning images for more than 100 live-action and animated productions over its 25-year history. The studio is a leader in technology, developing software and tools that have helped solve industry-wide challenges and deliver spectacular visuals to the big screen. Join Mike Seymour as he talks to the incredible Imageworks team as they celebrate their rich history and reflect on the innovation, imagination, and creativity that has inspired audiences worldwide. On the panel discussing the high and lows of the last 25 years will be Senior VFX Supervisors Jerome Chen and Ken Ralston, along with VFX Supervisors Mark Breakspear, Michael Ford and Sue Rowe.

Among the other highlights are:

Starting on Sunday the 30th July:

The Academy’s Science & Technology Council Presents ‘Hidden Figures’ in Collaboration With NASA

Moderated by Beverly J. Wood, an Academy Science and Technology Council member, the panel will feature NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers and research scientists, as well as members of the creative team behind the Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures.” The Mercury space program was integral to President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth. “It will not be one man going to the moon; it will be an entire nation,” he declared. “For all of us must work to put him there.”

It was a measure of that idealism that despite segregation, African-American women played an integral part in America’s space program. That untold story, revealed by Margot Lee Shetterly in her book, Hidden Figures, and Theodore Melfi’s film adaptation, includes the story of Katherine Johnson, whose mathematical skills in an era of slide rules and chalkboards made her a “human computer”. Gender and skin color didn’t matter when miscalculation meant mission failure. When electronic computers were first used to calculate John Glenn’s 1962 Earth orbital flight, he asked that Johnson check the figures before launching that historic mission.

BONUS: The Academy is also partnering with SIGGRAPH to present a panel, looking at last year’s Sci-tech winners, as part of an increased partnership with the Academy .

Game of Thrones: Building & Destroying Meereen

The Rodeo FX team will take attendees through the process behind the creation of the award-winning environment of Meereen in seasons 4 and 5 of “Game of Thrones,” then its destruction in season 6. Created in season 4, the impressive city features a giant gilded pyramid crowned by a golden statue. What started out as a 2.5D matte painting evolved into a fully CG city in season 6, threatened to be destroyed when it’s under attack by a huge fleet of ships.

Valerian and City of a Thousand Planets

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is the visually spectacular new adventure film from Luc Besson, the legendary director of “The Fifth Element”, and is based on the ground-breaking comic book series Valérian et Laureline .This session focuses on the technologies deployed to create this fabulous universe.

The presentation will feature work from Weta Digital, ILM and RodeoFX.

The Making of Marvel Studio’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Zoe Saldana (Gamora)

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes became new allies and many fan-favorite characters returned. Marvel Studios, Weta, Framestore, and Method Studios will take SIGGRAPH audiences through their VFX journey as they created some of the movie’s most heart-stopping moments.

Blizzard Entertainment Presents: The Making of the “Overwatch” Animated Shorts

Learn how Blizzard Animation had to radically alter some of its production workflows and much of the technology used to produce the six episodes of “Overwatch.” Using the groundbreaking GPU-based ray-tracing renderer Redshift, the “Overwatch” shorts represent an entirely new, cost-effective animation pipeline that allows rich, high-quality content to be created in a fraction of the time traditionally associated with pre-rendered workflows. Blizzard’s team will also share some of the strategies, tools, and techniques employed to create a world worth fighting for.


SIGGRAPH 2017 will mark the 44th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, and will be held 30 July–3 August 2017 in Los Angeles at LA Live Convention Centre.

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