Animation, Art, and Technology.

Vancouver, BC – Hey U Guys had a chance to attend SIGGRAPH 2011 (Aug 7 – 11), a computer graphics conference that encompassed a wide array of topics relating to the entertainment, and graphic design industry. A celebration of technology and the digital art community, everything from advances in software, to videogames development, animated film screenings, and more.

Having been previously held in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Boston, this is the first time the conference has been hosted north of the border in Vancouver,Canada.

Divided into workshops, production sessions, an exhibition hall and the world renowned Computer Animation Festival, the five-day conference is one of the biggest in the world. One part educational, another part entertaining. Representatives from major studios Disney, Dreamworks, ILM, Digital Domain, Weta, gave panels, and talks to discuss their technology.


 Vancouver Convention Centre

Siggraph networking reception

Cory Doctorow co-editor of Boing Boing, and author, kicked off the conference with a fitting keynote about copyright in the digital age, Digital Rights Management (DRM), and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The entire keynote is available online below.


Visual effects supervisors and engineers from blockbusters Thor and Captain America, Disney’s Tangled, and ILM’s Rango to name a few, offered an insight into the processes, workflows, and pipelines of major Hollywood movies driven by computer graphics.



Pixar’s ‘La Luna’ directed by Enrico Casarosa, was one of the highly anticipated short films screened at Siggraph. The story of a boy on a boating trip with his father, and grandfather unfolds into something humorous and inspiring, with childlike wonder akin to a Miyazaki film. This was also accompanied by a production session in which Casarosa discussed in detail the long production,  which took place over the course of two years.


Another popular production panel was ‘The Visual Effects of Thor and Captain America: So Different Yet So Marvel.’ Representatives from a handful of visual effects studios (Digital Domain, Double Negative, Whiskytree, and Luma Pictures, and Lola VFX),  contributed to various shots in the two superhero adaptations. Complex matte paintings, and epic fantasy sci-fi environments were created for Thor, while Captain required a period style historical look.

‘Skinny Steve’ the underfed version of the brawny Steve Rogers, in Captain America: The First Avenger, required special attention, and a variety of effects in post-production to achieve the skinny look in the film. One such method of transformation included filming a skinny actor to match the motions of Chris Evans which would be combined, to achieve a seamless look. Chris Evans’ face would then be manipulated and sculpted into something that would match the Skinny Steve body.



One of the the last panels at Siggraph was a panel on Killzone 3, from the folks at Amsterdam based Guerrilla Games. The art director, and crew talked about the evolution of the game franchise over the past ten years, on the Sony console platform. One of the impressive aspects of the talk, involved the use of Autodesk Maya working directly in the software, and in the game engine at the same time. For artists working in the game industry, this is a big deal offering a streamlined approach to development.


The computer animation festival in its 38th year, highlights the best in student, indie and industry animation. From music videos, commercials, shorts and feature films, the festival took place daily with a large turnout of viewers in the theater.

Notable films include: Paths of Hate, Le Royaume, Mr. Choco in Love The Experience of Fliehkraft, Flamingo Pride, Sweater Dog.




Tele-present wind by artist David Bowen, University of Minnesota

The Garden of Error and Decay by Michael Bielicky, HFG/ZKM Karlsruhe and Kamila B. Richter, HFG/ZKM Karlsruhe

Recompose: Direct and Gestural Interaction With an Actuated Surface



Overall, Siggraph was a pretty busy and informative conference, with lots of technical learning opportunities and films to see.