Siggraph 2010 was held in Los Angeles, CA this year at the LA Convention Center. This was my first Siggraph conference, so I went with high expectations. However, I was left a little disappointed. The first day as I drove in, I was a little worried since the parking garages were fairly empty. Apparently, the turnout was very low this year in comparison to a few years ago and this is of course understandable, given the present state of the economy. The job fair was pretty bad (not many companies showed up), but the exhibition was alright. Chaos Group had a big booth showing off their V-Ray renderer, which is supposedly the best one-click renderer now. I haven’t actually used it yet, so I don’t know, but the demos looked great and fast. I’ll likely migrate from Mental Ray eventually if it makes sense. Pixologic was demoing some new features in Zbrush which looked pretty wicked. I checked out Pixar’s booth where they showed the Renderman shaders for creating the heaps of garbage in Toy Story 3. Next Limit had some pretty nice simulations using Realflow.
I also attended a special Side Effects Houdini event on Tuesday night at the Cooper building. The venue was great. SideFX showed off some new features in Houdini 2011, specifically the new voronoi-based fracturing system, particle fluids solver, and hardware rendering improvements. Digital Domain talked about how they used Houdini to create some very nice fire and fluid effects in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Framestore NY stepped through their process in creating ground fractures in the current movie Salt. Lastly, Motion Theory illustrated how they accomplished some neat fluid effects for a Disney commercial, “World of Color”.
Overall, I felt a little disappointed in the conference this year. But I also didn’t have access to many of the talks and presentations. I heard the Behind the scenes of Avatar and Making of Tron were pretty awesome. I also only attended for 2 days, so it might have gotten better afterwards. Hopefully the economy picks up next year and we’ll get more people. The conference will be in Vancouver, Canada next year (the first time it is outside of the USA).