This year’s edition of SIGGRAPH Asia, themed Dream Zone, featured eminent industry figure heads who are at the cutting-edge of the CGI, FX and animation industries.They inspired continuing dialogue about the industry’s challenges, and responsibilities, for matters such as cyber security for virtual worlds and characters, the impact of deep fakes and facial recognition, accurate and science-based data visualization, as well as the applications of visualization to, for example, autonomous driving vehicles.
The 12th edition of SIGGRAPH Asia attracted 5,120 visitors and participants from 50 countries and regions, featuring over 800 speakers, and 68 participating exhibiting companies and brands, who came to Brisbane from over 15 countries and regions.
UNSW| Art & Design associate dean education Simon McIntyre said, “It’s been amazing to meet people who are not only developing technologies, but also realising that the industry is moving into unchartered territories, and that they are now looking for something beyond the ability to alter environmental artifacts. Asking, how do we start to change industry with it? How do I become someone who can shape this in the future or be a leader in this space?”
“It is great that there’s that many talented people here looking beyond the now into that horizon, of what’s coming? So, for us, that’s validating because it matches what we’re trying to do with their education provision. We’ve met so many people here who are way ahead of the majority of other people out there in this space,” he added.
The discourse also applied not only to the future of work in the industry, but that of movie making.
The featured sessions program’s chair Mark Elendt said, “Being in the Dream Zone, I was able to put together my dream panel, which featured the world’s largest studio creative heads, including Animal Logic, Pixar, Framestore, Industrial Light & Magic and Weta Digital. What was extraordinary is that, after listening to them discuss their pipelines, I had more questions than answers. It was thought-provoking and created a lot of discussions afterward, way past the actual session, which takes us forward into the future, and that’s what’s fantastic about SIGGRAPH Asia.”
The breadth and diversity across the program content reflected the interdisciplinary nature of the SIGGRAPH Asia community. Andrea Sosa Pintos, a researcher for CSIRO industrial physics and a speaker on the diversity and inclusion panel said, “This conference is trying to bring people from across the globe to innovate and create amazing technologies. By bringing diversity and being able to hear different perspectives, we magnify creativity and innovation, so that we can create together. So, I think it’s important that we discuss these topics and that we are connected with one another and so that we can expand our perspectives learning from each other.”
Boulder Graphics chief scientist and Doctoral Consortium program chair Alyn Rockwood remarked, “If one of the main reasons to come to a conference is networking, then Brisbane’s been really successful. I’ve talked to a lot of people. The area is very pleasant and conducive for networking. You can just take a walk and talk. Sometimes, you underestimate the convenience and the comfort of good restaurants and nice place to be, and how that influences networking.”
The SIGGRAPH Asia exhibition is known for its array of emerging technologies. Tracklab CEO Chris Sutton said, “We are an Australian company. It’s been great to have the opportunity to come to a show based in Australia and it’s been awesome to meet lots of really interesting existing and potential clients doing cool projects. We’ve had a great time showing off performance capture using the latest motion capture technologies.”
A Brisbanite, Brett Leavy of Unity Technologies, gold sponsor of SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, said that it was insightful to see the international technology companies exhibit here in Australia. “We’ve been working in our lab for a while and not always getting out. And sometimes you’ve got to get out to have a look around. It’s been wonderful – it’s good to see what other people are doing and to know that we are still competitive.”
Held for the first time at SIGGRAPH Asia this year was the Business & Innovation Symposium (BIS), which attracted so many that there was standing room only for some of the sessions. SIGGRAPH communities have been supportive of innovation in modern Hollywood and Silicon Valley for the last 40 years. The Asia-Pacific region’s population of 4.4 billion people will create giant market possibilities, and the aim of BIS is to play a lead role in the region’s innovation.
The BIS program chair Michael Hsin-Yao Liang of Silkroad Visual Technologies, said “I’m delighted that the SIGGRAPH Asia community is extending its footprint to include the business side of the industry. It’s a very important part of the industry, and it is potentially huge in Asia. We addressed the opportunities that will come with the introduction of 5G, in terms of how vastly improved speed, connectivity and bandwidth will promote the everyday use of virtual reality and augmented reality; of how we can grow the 3D ecosystem, tackling skills and talent development; and the rise of virtual beings, and how they can be monetised. The symposium was very well received and we hope to continue it at future editions of SIGGRAPH Asia.”
Another program new to SIGGRAPH Asia, and one very close to the heart of the conference chair, Tomasz Bednarz, Demoscene, fascinated a lot of visitors. One of the Demosceners’, Greg Newton (Ziggy/Defame), commented that, “SIGGRAPH Asia has completely exceeded my expectations.” He felt the reception for the Demoscene presentations and talks had been excellent, “Because with the live show, for example, the live shader coding, people are actually interested in how graphically, in a coders point of view, does that come together? So, we’ve really just broken all the elements down and people have been so attracted to it, to understand how it works.”
SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 recognises emerging talents in the industry
SIGGRAPH Asia is distinguished by its academic program and its commitment to showcasing emerging technologies. At SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, submissions were received to showcase emerging technologies, and those candidates shortlisted exhibited Emerging Technologies’ Exhibits within the Experience Hall. Voted by both the committee and attendees to the exhibits, the following Emerging Technologies’ program awards were presented:
The best demo voted by committee award went to Sticky Touch: An Adhesion Changeable Surface, a novel tactile display that represents adhesive information on a surface, achieved by a temperature sensitive adhesive sheet whose temperature is locally controlled by peltier devices arranged in a grid. The team included Yoshitaka Ishihara, Ryo Shirai, and Yuichi Itoh (Osaka University); Kazuyuki Fujita (Tohoku University, Research Institute of Electrical Communication); and Takao Onoye (Osaka University).
Honourable mentions for best demo voted by committee were given to: Enhancing Suspension Activities in Virtual Reality with Body-Scale Kinesthetic Force Feedbacks; Brobdingnagian Glass: A Micro-Stereoscopic Telexistence System; and SwarmCloak: Landing of a Swarm of Nano-Quadrotors on Human Arms.
The best demo voted by attendees award went to Enhancing Suspension Activities in Virtual Reality with Body-Scale Kinesthetic Force Feedbacks. This work presents a suspension kit that can suggest a range of body postures and thus enables various exercise styles of users in virtual reality. Users immersed in an exercise experience perceive active kinesthetic force feedback produced by the kit via suspending their weight with arm exertion. The team included Yuan-Syun Ye (National Chiao Tung University, Institute of Multimedia Engineering) and Hsin-Yu Chen and Liwei Chan (National Chiao Tung University).
The runners up for the best demo voted by attendees were Hanger Drive: Driver manipulation system for self-balancing transporter using the hanger reflex haptic illusion, and Licker: A tongue robot for representing realistic tongue motions.
An extended reality (XR) program showcased emerging media and cutting-edge technologies in XR such as virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Awards were delivered in association with the XR program and these included:
The best XR technology voted by attendees – Winner was by Upload Not Complete, and the runner’s up were HyperDrum: Interactive synchronous drumming in virtual reality using everyday objects, and Beyond the screen-Volumetric displays from Voxon Photonics.
The best XR content voted by attendees – Winner was Super Size Hero; and the runners up were the Lost City of Mer virtual reality experience; Pumping Life: Embodied Virtual companion for enhancing immersive experience with multisensory feedback; and Encounters: A multiparticipant audiovisual art experience with XR.
Real-Time Live!, a showcase of virtual technologies demonstrated live in front of a large audience, wrapped up SIGGRAPH Asia 2019. In 2019, Real-Time Live! was held as a competition, with entries submitted from across the globe. Six shortlisted candidates competed at SIGGRAPH Asia 2019.
The AirSticks: An instrument for audio-visual performance through gesture in augmented reality emerged as winner of the Real-Time Live! program. The Air Sticks combine the physicality of drumming with the unlimited possibilities of computer music, taking the practice of real-time electronic music to a new realm. The team included Alon Ilsar (SensiLab, Monash University) and Matthew Hughes (University of Technology Sydney, Technische Universität Berlin).
Of the event that he worked two and a half years to pull off, Bednarz said, “I am extremely proud of SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 being held in Australia for the very first time. The whole team worked hard to put together a fantastic program, that inspired thousands. Brisbane itself provided a super-friendly atmosphere for all attendees. See you next year in Daegu!”
SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 was supported by Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ), the Queensland Government’s lead marketing, destination and experience development and major events agency, and Brisbane Marketing, the city’s economic development board.