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Wednesday @ Siggraph

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Autodesk
It was a pleasure to start the day with Marc Hamaker at the Autodesk booth. Of course, the big news is Autodesk's Maya 2017 with improvements in workflow with new tools like the Time Editor. There's a new Render Setup and a new Content Browser. What caught my eye was the addition of motion graphics tools like the 3D Type Tool and the MASH Procedural Effects Toolkit to create versatile motion design animations. Also, I was pleased to hear that Maya LT has also been upgraded (pretty neat!).

Look for a review of Maya 2017 in the near future which will focus on the MoGraph tools. For now, check out the "What's New" page and the "Motion Graphics" page for complete info.

Andrew Beall & Matthias Pusch from WorldViz

WorldViz
WorldViz, a virtual reality solutions company that established itself (2002) long before the current wave of VR took off. They are the real pros working somewhat low key and behind the scenes to provide professional level VR experiences for the architecture industry, the health care industry and the manufacturing industry (and more). "As the market grows, it's becoming more fragmented. We protect our users against that fragmentation with our VR development software Vizard and our enterprise solutions",Andrew Beall, one of the founders of WorldViz, told me in our meeting.

I've got a lot to learn about this company. I was impressed with Andrew and the solutions/service that the company provides. Look to their main website for more info and stay tuned for an interview/article in the near future.

Amazon Lumberyard
I was delighted that Amazon had a booth on their beta game engine, Lumberyard. I got to see an in-depth demo of the engine and experience the VR and HDR stations. One thing that really got me excited was the potential for cinematics inside of the engine. The tools are there and the engine looks beautiful. Definitely check Lumberyard out (it's still in beta) and look for a more in-depth article in the future.

At the NVIDIA booth

NVIDIA Booth Demos
NVIDIA always have a massive presence at Siggraph and this year they've outdone themselves. The booth is a model of "getting as much info/tech in a small space as possible". Plus, the booth just looked great.

I was delighted to have Sandeep Gupte as my guide. He's such a delightful person who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of NVIDIA tech. Sandeep took me through several demos at the booth, but the two that stood out for me were the Autodesk Design Graph demo (using a combination of Autodesk's Dreamcatcher and the Hack Rodteam's innovations) which aims to break the years-long cycle of vehicle design and the VRWorks 360 Video Stiching SDK demo, which I was able to experience live via VR headset. Of course, these technologies are made possible by NVIDIA'S remarkable GPU developments.

Siggraph International "Computer Graphics in Africa and the Middle East"
Although not really a panel as described in the schedule, I enjoyed this presentation. I wished there had been more information on Africa's activities in computer graphics, but, sadly, as the individual from Africa who spoke said, "we are seriously in need of professionals to help". I'm hoping that his visit to Siggraph will kick start that process.

There was also an engaging presentation by Iranian bornKurosh ValaNejad, who is on the faculty at USC School of Cinematic Arts. He described a game (The Cat and the Coup) he co-created that took the user through (symbolically) the life of the deposed Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh.

Side Effects Houdini
I spent considerable time at the end of the day at the Side Effects booth. In addition to some truly great presentations, I was keen to catch Robert Magee's "Houdini Roadmap" presentation. It did not disappoint.

Side Effects, in response to customer requests, have decided to build in (albeit in a deliberate fashion) a lot more support for modeling and animation inside of Houdini. He showed a short animated film that used a beta Houdini build to do all of the modeling, animation and rendering. It was great film with look/animation that rivals any other software.

Also, Houdini will be redoing their node network from the ground up in order to make it easier to see, easier to use and easier to organize. We got so see a few pictures of the new design and it looks truly wonderful.

You can find out more info and/or download a free version of Houdini Apprentice at the Sidefx.com website. Plus, the new Houdini 16 should be coming out in September, 2016.

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Autodesk, NVIDIA, Side Fx software, Siggraph, WorldViz
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