Wednesday at Siggraph 2018

Aug 16, 2018 at 12:30 am by -gToon

Virtual Reality

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 Vancouver, B.C.
Soundtrack: none, just the natural sounds of the city
  • Gravity Sketch Meet & Demo
  • AMD Booth Briefing
  • Jon Peddie Press Luncheon
  • Chaos Group "Vlado in Renderland"
  • VR Village
  • Google Daydream
  • Art Gallery Redux
After a good night's sleep and lots of liquids, I'm feeling energetic and looking forward to the day's schedule of events. The conference is really cooking now and I particularly looking forward to several meetings today. Nice weather, great city, and cool people!
My first meeting of the day was with Shay, the creator of a virtual sketching app, Gravity Sketch. Shay told me that he developed the application because of a need for better collaboration between artist and engineer. His application is a sketch tool but creates "data rich enough to fit into an engineers pipeline". I liked his presentation and his ideas. The demo he gave was simple (virtual sketching using a headset and hand controls), but very fast. Shay says he is "playing the long game" so look for this tool to develop as its usefulness becomes more widely known.
I always love meeting up with AMD as their tools and technology are innovative and the people you talk with are very personable. After a quick rundown of new products (see here and here), I went through several demos and ended up having a great chat with AMD M&E Expert, Dominick Spina, about GPU technology and the future of rendering. His comments about AMD's new Radeon Pro WX 8200 GPU were insightful. This company really gets it and the way they listen to their userbase is second to none.
One of the highlights of every Siggraph I attend is the JR Peddie luncheon for the press. They always provide a great environment for learning about trends in the computer graphics market. Mr. Peddie is as smart as a whip. He poses a question to a hand-picked panel for each luncheon. The question this year was: Virtual Studios: who benefits in a Revolution? His panel consisted of five individuals all of whom have unique backgrounds in computer graphics. I was delighted to see Ton Roosendaal (Blender Foundation) on the panel.
The conversation among the panelist was smart and intriguing. I was very interested in the notion that one panelist had that "real time rendering is cloud technology". The consensus is that we are just opening the door to virtual studios, but it will happen in the near future even with security concerns. I can see VFX companies utilizing this idea to provide a collaborative situation with remote artists they hire and work with. A lot more work needs to be done still.
This annual presentation by Vladimir Koylazov, Co-Founder & Head of Software Development at Chaos Group is a behind-the-scenes look at the newest technology under development at Chaos Group along with their continuing work on their brilliant Vray renderer. Vladdo is an excellent speaker that makes GPU technology understandable.
I was very impressed with Vladdo's take on Project Lavinia which is a project to build a real-time ray tracing application built on the RT Core on NVIDIA’s Turing GPU. The demo (in real-time) Vladdo presented was impressive. There is no release date, but I suspect that Chaos Group is working hard on this technology.
Siggraph 2018 has gone all-in for virtual reality. They've expanded their offerings and set up a massive amount of VR/AR stations and demos. I tried out several and came away thoughtful and inspired.
Goro Fujita's "Beyond the Fence" was my favorite. I experienced this gem of a story on the Oculus Rift. Siggraph press release has the best description:
Created in Quill in just three weeks by a single artist, “Beyond the Fence” is designed to be co-watched by four people in Facebook’s Spaces. It follows the story of Unit-7, a curious robot who works at a junkyard sorting junk day-in and day-out, and wonders, “What’s the world like beyond the fence?”
I was impressed with all of the VR presentations and came away thinking that more and more artists are embracing VR as a story-telling platform. There were literally dozens of screenings and demos in VR Village. It's a revolution in progress for artists.
Although other headsets like Oculus Rift and Sony's Vive have gotten the lions-share of publicity, Google's Daydream VR headset has continued development and has become an intriguing alternative. I demoed one of the headsets and experienced a horror trailer for a Youtube premium video series called "Escape the Night". The headset was much more comfortable than others I've tried and the visual clarity was excellent. Escape the Night was great fun and well worth the vr treatment. I'm seriously going to dive into Google Daydream when I get back from Siggraph.
Art Gallery Redux
I very much wanted to revisit Somnium, an eerie installation that has stayed in my mind. I was not disappointed as you feel you are in the presence of the uncanny while standing in the installation. A collaboration by three artists (see photo), I don't know exactly how to describe the installation, but it sure is wonderful.
Wrap Up
Wednesday was a shorter, but very enjoyable day. I was especially taken by my trip to the AMD booth. I also enjoyed wandering the exhibition floor and chatting with various people at the booths. I think Siggraph 2018 is going to prove to be very successful. There is a vibe in the air that's hard to describe. Is it intense interest and a great sense of fun perhaps? If there was a theme I came across it would be Cloud Computing and Virtual Studios. GPU technology is entering yet another major phase of advancement, too.
I'll take Thursday off and enjoy Vancouver a bit before I start going over my notes and media. I took several 360 videos that I hope to edit and share with you.
Farewell from Vancouver!
Sections: News & Features

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