Interview with Jinny H.J. Choo, Computer Animation Festival Director, SIGGRAPH Asia, 2015

Oct 30, 2015 at 02:35 am by -gToon

Renderosity Magazine: Are there significant differences between the Computer Animation Festival at the U.S. edition of SIGGRAPH vs. SIGGRAPH Asia?

Jinny H.J. Choo: SIGGRAPH Asia is the Asian version of SIGGRAPH. Both SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia try to maintain a showcase of high-caliber pieces from all around the world. In this respect, there are no significant differences between SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia.

However, SIGGRAPH Asia, traveling from country to country within Asia, has become the conference that suggests the possibility and variety of computer graphics & interactive technology with a unique Asian cultural background added to the original characteristics of SIGGRAPH. Furthermore, SIGGRAPH Asia tends to show the variety and more colors of Asian countries focusing on the strength of the local CG community in each city.

What is the process you go through to choose the final festival shorts? Do you have a particular theme that you typically focus on or one that you're especially focusing on this year?

Jinny H.J. Choo: This year, hundreds of entries were reviewed by a pre-selection committee and jury, and it is obviously not an easy task to maintain a high standard every year. However, we are very pleased to have works with a balance of artistic and technical excellence in computer generated animation that have been put together for Electronic Theater and Animation Theater this year again.

The Computer Animation Festival will feature a wide spectrum of intriguing visual creativity as well as technical aspect of arts for three exciting days.

With screenings, visitors can discover the wonders of creative challenges and innovative exploration of recent animated works in computer graphics and visual effects by experts from Disney-Pixar studios and Japan's 6 major animation studios.

I wish I could be there in Japan with you! What are the screening facilities like and the panels?

Jinny H.J. Choo: You should come join us this year because we have planned a lot of special events during the conference besides screenings. The Electronic Theater is the most outstanding program that even the general public can attend (not limited to CG experts). The venue has a 700 seat screening facility.

This year, one of our focus is to showcase a CG playground in Japan since SIGGRAPH Asia is held in Kobe, Japan. We want to suggest more layers of CG within Anime and this topic will be presented by 6 Japanese major studios, who will share their own experiences in CG.

Another exciting program we are holding are 5 special production sessions presented by leading industry bigwigs such as Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and more to provide attendees with their latest production experiences in the latest films and blockbusters, including The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out.

How many entries did you have this year? Were there any surprises in the submissions for you? Do you have mostly professional entries or is there a good mix of amateur / student submissions?

Jinny H.J. Choo: This year, we received over 400 entries from all over the world, a bit lower than we expected as the deadline was moved ahead one month. However, we were lucky enough to have a number of amazing pieces. A total of 49% of the submissions were from studios, while rest were from all levels of academic institutions. I believe we have a great mix of the final selections for Electronic Theater and Animation Theater.

Do you see any trends in animation over the last year?

Jinny H.J. Choo: I think CG techniques are already widely used for most films. Now, CG technology enables live-action films to be created without human actors and physical settings. The technical limitations are almost overcome, plus the visual quality is also enhanced, which creates a new sense of digital realism. The power of technology even makes it possible to express human emotions in detail, which is still one of the more difficult tasks.

Digital characters are looking more and more realistic and as digital technology evolves, and animated feature films present hyper-realistic characters these days. Here are some examples from SIGGRAPH Asia 2015Computer Animation Festival Electronic Theater this year.

Electronic Theater: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies reel
Weta Digital, New Zealand
Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies reel

©2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Electronic Theater: Wild Hunt Launch Cinematic
Digic Pictures, Hungary
'Digic Pictures' is a high-end 3D animation studio based in Hungary, specializing in the production of 3D animated game cinematics CGI. Their photo-realistic characters are obviously impressive and captivating.
Electronic Theater: Wild Hunt Launch Cinematic

© Digic Pictures, CD PROJECKTS. A.

Electronic Theater: Wild Hunt Launch Cinematic

© Digic Pictures, CD PROJECKTS. A.

In deciding on the panels for the Computer Animation Festival, what do you hope to accomplish?

Jinny H.J. Choo: The 21stcentury has witnessed digital revolution in every area and CG is a challenging medium. It will be very interesting to witness the competition and harmony between art and technology beyond imagination combining with the best computer graphics technology available now at SIGGRAPH Asia 2015.

We are highly confident that the Computer Animation Festival will attract attendees with world-class creative and production talents who have created computer animation and visual effects in some of the latest and most successful productions.

CAF Production Sessions: Panels and talks

The Technology Behind 'Big Hero 6'
Speakers: Rajesh Sharma, Toby Jones(Disney Animation Studios)
The Technology Behind 'Big Hero 6

© Disney Animation Studios

Abstract Thought from Pixar's Inside Out
Speakers: Jonas Jarvers, Masha Ellsworth, Albert Lozano, Ron Zorman
Abstract Thought from Pixar's Inside Out

© Disney/Pixar

The Good Dinosaur
Speakers: Sanjay Bakshi(Supervising Technical Director), Matt Webb(Volumetric Clouds Supervisor), Sharon Callahan(Lighting DP), Ana Lacaze(Lead Shading Artist)

The Good Dinosaur

© Disney/Pixar

How has the Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH Asia grown since its inception? Would you like to see any changes or adjustments in the festival that would help it grow?

Jinny H.J. Choo: The SIGGRAPH Asia Computer Animation Festival is one of the most highly-popular programs and attracts conference attendees every year because it offers a high level of originality, story-telling and intriguing use of technology in balance. We endeavor to bring content that showcases more of Asia's best emphasizing on cutting-edge research and development because we believe it will strengthen its identity as a unique and important event.

We are in a renaissance of animation - do you think this is due to VFX or animation features, or perhaps something else?

Jinny H.J. Choo: The combination of the live-action films and animation enjoys a renaissance, and CG technology is a catalyst for this flow. CG is almost perfect itself, yet intensely a complex marriage of art and technology. Captivating character-driven animation and photo-realistic visual effects are more prevalent than ever these days and it is an exciting time for CG.

How do you see VR affecting the Computer Animation Festival in the future? Can you envision a VR feature or short film being premiered at SIGGRAPH Asia?

Jinny H.J. Choo: VR will be soon be a part of our daily lives as technology evolves and becomes more commercialized. It is now easy access to experience VR through digital devices, even through our own smart phone. These areas will continue to grow even faster in Computer Graphics than expected, therefore I might say why not? However, the most important thing, which I also tell the animation students I teach, is that a 'story' and 'characters' come first not the technique itself.

CG technology certainly will be extended to attempt the bridging of art and technology in the near future but they should be playing together in harmony.

Lastly, since the festival is focused on Asia, do you see any cultural differences in the kinds of films screened at the festival?

Jinny H.J. Choo: SIGGRAPH Asia tends to draw more unique Asian content. However it doesn't mean SIGGRAPH Asia Computer Animation Festival is only focused on Asia but it tries to make extra efforts to give the local industry opportunities to showcase its strength so that the locals would be involved in SIGGRAPH Asia more actively.

Each country has their own identity and cultural strengths, which allows Asia to have very diverse markets that show an unique voice for screenings and I believe this is definitely the beauty of Asia.

Siggraph Asia 2015 Animation Festival Trailer

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