Tuesday at SIGGRAPH

Birdly was the first thing I tried today, and may be my highlight of the conference. 

Birdly was the first thing I tried today, and may be my highlight of the conference. 

The first thing I wanted to do today was try Birdly. Birdly is a research project that does a great job in making you feel like you're flying. Here's the setup:

  • You're wearing an Oculus headset.
  • You're wearing headphones
  • You're laying face down on a platform that will tilt up, down and to the side. The platform is controlled by your arm movements.
  • There's a fan that blows air on your face.

When you put on the headset, you get a view of San Fransisco from the air, it's a flight simulator. As you move your arms, they drive the movement if the simulation. If you speed up, the fan blows faster and you hear wind in your headphones. If you twist your hands down you dive bomb towards the ground, if you twist your arms up, you aim up in the air (and the platform responds accordingly). If you flap your arms, you speed up. Simply put, it's amazing. It's something you have to experience and I can totally see someone packaging this up and selling it. It's really fun.

I also saw an early version of an HDRI projector (it could only display the color green). Again, amazing. The presentor said he expected this to be in cinemas in two years.

After that, I walked around the show floor, looking at the vendors and the job fair. Tons of companies were hiring, the floor was busy. I was temped to sit and watch some of the presentations, but there was a Planet of the Apes presentation starting shortly, so I made my way there.

The work displayed here was pretty incredible. Things that stick out is the care taken for simulating the rain drops hitting the Apes' fur. They did multiple simulations, some for the initial hit, then the rivulets of water running down their body, then again if the rivulet caused another drop to form. Such subtle work, but you definitely notice it.

A large portion of the talk dealt with the artistic choices the director made regarding lighting and the look that he was going for. They showed us some of the films that inspired the lighting and how they tried to match it. They pretty much touched on the whole production, I'm skipping a ton of topics. Solid presentation.

When that was done I quickly wolfed down some food and quickly made my way to the V-Ray presentation. The first presentation was by IKEA(?!) and it was surprisingly good. I had no idea that the catalogue contiained so many 3D renderings. They went through their workflow, discussed the custom tools they had to make, problems they were still having and what they hoped to see improve in the future.

After the V-Ray talk I checked out the Godzilla presentation. MPC and DNeg gave talks about the design process, lighting, rendering and their destruction pipelines.

Once that finished up I went to Real-Time Live. I thought it would just be videos of real-time work, like video games or something. What I didn't know was that the developers would actually be demonstrating their work to the audience live in front of everyone. There were some really strong standouts like the short film Construct, which allowed for real time path tracing AND real time motion capture of characters AND capture of a virtual camera's animation. The renderings would be rough, but if here capture was paused for even a second, the rendering would be resolved and would look great.

Once that was done I ate a quick meal and made my way to the Scanline VFX SIGGRAPH party. What was wild was that I ran into several of my old student there, some of whom I taught 10 years ago. I always feel bad when I run into students who were in my first few classes, I was so much worse as a teacher back then. I wish I could go back in time and reteach them or give them back their money.

All and all, it was a really fun day. The only problem is that there's just too much to see. For every presentation I saw, I missed on several others that were running at the same time. It's a good problem to have, but I wish there were more hours in the day.