Finally attended my first Siggraph conference – something that I have been wanted to do since I rendered my first triangle. Here are the highlights of my trip – note that I very likely have missed a lot interesting sessions (they were often located in the same time slot).
First impression of Hong Kong
When arriving to Hong Kong Monday evening the skyline blew me away. Amazing how they crammed so many skyscrapers into so little space. I took the train from the airport to Hong Kong station and walked to the hotel. The walk was a bit more difficult than I had imaged; Due to the limited space there is often no sidewalk – instead you have to walk through building, which makes it a little bit harder to follow directions from Google Maps.
Siggraph Asia – Keynotes
The first keynote was “Wearable Computing: Through the Looking Glass” by Thad Starner (Georgia Institute of Technology). When Thad was a freshman at the university he felt that during the lectures he was torn between on one side paying full attendance to the lectures, which made him understand the topics but the knowledge would only last for a few weeks, and on the other side trying to create good notes during, which had the side effect that he was unable to pay the needed attendance to the lectures. He solved this classic dilemma in a fairly obscure way; he started wearing a computer with a monitor in front of one of his eyes and a one-hand keyboard (Twiddler). Since then he had worn a computer, which allows him to easily take notes, search for answers, etc. His talk described how wearable computers have evolved and how it has turned into the Google Glass project, where he is the technical lead. I was a bit surprised to see that the Google Glass project is not just a technology wonder but also quite magnificent in terms of usability. It is easy to see whenever a person is using the Google Glass, since the monitor is transparent and can be seen by other people. Besides both the voice commands and the touch interface makes it easy to see when a person is using the Glass.
The second keynote was by Philip Rosedale – the founder of Linden Lab (Second Life) and co-founder of a new company called high fidelity. The talk was about “The Revenge of Virtual Reality” and focused on where virtual reality is now and where it is going. He also had a small real-time demo of his next big thing, which worked somewhat ok until the audience was asked to participate, which was quite unsuccessful.
There was a lot of interesting talks. Here are some the best and most entertaining talks I attended.
- Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures (Thomas Geijtenbeek et al): A muscle-based control method for simulated bipeds in which both the muscle routing and control parameters were optimized. Using this system they have created a generic locomotion system that supports a number of different bipedal creatures. The YouTube video gives a nice overview of the capabilities of the system [YouTube link].
- Linear Efficient Antialiased Displacement and Reflectance Mapping (Jonathan Dupuy et al). A reflectance filtering technique called LEADR for displacement mapped surfaces that preserves surface appearance at all scales. [YouTube link]
- Sphere-Meshes:Shape Approximation using Spherical Quadric Error Metrics (Jean-Marc Thiery et al). A new shape approximation algorithm, which generated a sphere-mesh (mesh with connected spheres) at a prescribed level of detail. [Video link]
- 3D Wikipedia: Using Outline Text to Automatically Label and Navigate Reconstructed Geometry (Bryan C. Russell et al). A novel extension to Wikipedia, which was able to create a 3D reconstruction of a location using photos from the internet and link point of interest from the original text to locations in the 3D space – all this fully automated (with a fairly low error rate). [YouTube link]
- Halftone QR Codes (Hung-Kuo Chu et al). Allow you to create custom QR codes that appear as a picture of your own choice. The author uses the fact that certain errors and is still readable by machines. They event had a demo of an animated QR code (Big Buck Bunny) [YouTube link]
I also attended the Khronos talks about OpenCL and WebGL. The main thing that caught my attention was the focus on mesh compression using Scalable Complexity 3D Mesh Compression codec MPEG-SC3DMC, which is now open-sourced under the MIT-License [Link]. While the SC3DMC is not really Khronos related it is planned to be used the glFT (OpenGL Transmission Format) for 3D assets, which is currently in a Khronos public draft specification. [Slides]
Computer Animation Festival – Electronic Theater
The last night at Siggraph I attended the 2-hour overview of the computer animation festival. Some of the best shorts of the festival is already available online (click on the pictures to see the movies):