SIGGRAPH 2006 Exhibitor Highlights

There are nearly 250 booth exhibitors here this year. SIGGRAPH is ACM’s biggest conference, and this is pretty good proof of it. Here’s a picture from the catwalk above: big space, lots happening!

SIGGRAPH 2006 exhibition hall

The three most common kind of exhibitors were 1) Software vendors working on various kinds of graphics software, 2) Content creators who produce graphics-oriented content, and 3) Universities and schools with art and design programs emphasizing graphics and game art and design.

Autodesk had the largest, most prominently placed booth, also coolly designed and strikingly red. Maya is their industry standard software for digital image creation, 3D animation and visual effects. But check out their page of Media & Entertainment products.

Google also was there, in a medium-sized booth. Google Earth and SketchUp were there – had you seen yet that SketchUp allows the building of 3D models for use in Virtual Earth? I brainstormed about this on our KPL forums a couple months ago. There are lots of SIGGRAPH research projects (and partnerships) happening to make use of Google Earth’s graphics for GIS applications – check out how Autodesk Civil 3D partners up Autodesk and Google. Mashups aren’t just for hobbyists!

My Google booth story: I walk up and wait my turn, and the lady says “Just a minute, we ran out of job listing printouts.” I grin and say “I’m actually not looking for a job.” Proves the point that Google is the hot place to work right now, doesn’t it?

At the other end of the software spectrum was Cosmic Blobs: 3D modeling software for 7 to 14 year olds. I’d seen this one before – it’s inspiration for some of what we’re doing with Kid’s Programming Language. Very fun, and very nicely done, from product design and features to usability and marketing!

Of the content creators, Sony Pictures Imageworks had a very large booth right up at the front, and huge posters for their various animated movies. A curious usability problem with their booth – they had an “employee lounge” in a little room behind their desk, with a black curtain across it. Every visitor, though, thought there was some cool film exhibit happening back there, and tried to walk into the back, lol. I’m sure the people at the desk are very tired of explaining that by now.

Lucasfilm was also there in a big booth (did you know George did the keynote for last year’s SIGGRAPH?), as were Blue Sky Studios, Walt Disney Animation (Joe Rhode from Disney delivered a very interesting keynote yesterday), Pixar Animation (but in a smallish booth).

Second Life had a nicelooking booth, as did a few other game studios.

I still think they’d open up a way bigger market if they switched their scripting engine to Phrogram. 😀

Of the printed media, IdN was a favorite. It’s a Hong Kong publishing house with a magazine and a line of books, all of which have high design values and lot of emphasis on graphic layout and imagery. Check out MUSA Book and the other cool stuff linked from this page:

The largest number of booths on the floor was probably the schools and universities offering curriculum around design of digital art and animation, and making film and games out of them. I made a point of talking to all of them to tell them a bit about Phrogram, and many of them were verrrry interested. Here are a couple scenarios:

I’m a designer working on a 3D character model and a 3D level for a new game. I’m ready to test both, but don’t want to bother a C++ coder to make that work for me yet. I open up a template Phrogram, and change the file names in it to use my new model files. That’s all it takes. I run the Phrogram, and I’m controlling my model using the keyboard, wandering around and “testing” my game level. I tweak the models until I’m happy, then I click the “Package” menu, and Phrogram zips the executable program up with my models. I mail it around to the rest of my team. They unzip and run it, and they’re wandering around my new level, putting together feedback for me. That’s rapid prototyping that professional designers and artists can do themselves, no C++ coder required.

The high school or university scenario isn’t so different – I’m just a slightly younger and less-experienced designer or artist or programmer. When my 2D or 3D Phrogram is ready, I package it up as a ZIP and send it to my friends, teacher and parents. I link it on my MySpace page.

Yeah, many of them were verrrry interested. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: