Wednesday at Siggraph 2019

Aug 01, 2019 at 12:16 am by -gToon


Scooters are everywhere in downtown Los Angeles. After coming in via the L.A. subway, I grabbed a scooter and drove to the convention center. During the day I came across several Siggraph friends on scooters passing by. It sure is fun to ride one of those things and it makes it much easier on my feet since I do so much walking anyway at the conference.

AMD Booth
My first meeting of the day was at the AMD booth. I always enjoy working with the people in this company as they are so personable and passionate about what they do. The booth itself is really attractive and easy to get around in for all of the demos they had. I spoke with Glen Matthewswho told me that AMD’s focus this year is on the software side. “We want to democratize rendering so we can get it into as many hands as possible”. He was referring to AMD’s ProRender Engine which is a free download (SDK) from their site. AMD has been doing a lot of development on this engine and I was personally taken through several demos which were very impressive. They have released ProRender 2.0 at Siggraph which is the first major update since the initial release.

I do want to point out that AMD has released a fantastic Pro Render plug-in for Blender 2.8 and recently a plug-in for Cinema 4D and Modo.



Jon Peddie Luncheon
I think is about my 10th press luncheon presented by the inimitable Jon Peddie who heads what is probably the best research organization for the computer graphics industry. For the luncheon, he selects interesting people who are experts in the topic he has picked for the panel. This time it was Open Source and the conversations were terrific.

Open Source has come a long way since I first began hearing rumblings of file formats like alembic. Now the major studios in Hollywood are starting to realize they can benefit by joining open source projects. The panel comments on how this is working specifically in the big studio workflow especially since they have to work with so many outside vendors to get a major film completed on time. I’m determined to write a longer article on this topic in the future

Jon Peddie also gave Ton Roosendaal and award for his efforts and passion for Open Source. Ton is the man behind Blender and is a great leader in the Open Source movement. His acceptance speech was funny and quite sharp. So glad to come to the Jon Peddie luncheon as it’s always lively and fun!

Reallusion Booth Meeting
My association with Reallusion and John Martin (their marketing head) has lasted for over 10 years. I’m so delighted to see them grow as a company and told them so. John took me through the new Unreal Live Link where you can import iClone scenes with model, lighting, and camera, directly into Unreal. I watched live motion capture being taken directly into Unreal with ease. This product is being developed for a slightly higher-end marked (VR Production) and so is priced accordingly.

John also shared some awesome news about Reallusion and their service for several film companies creating very specific models in their Character Creator application that match the actors face. This update is called Head Shot because they actually used the headshots of the actors in a film to fit to the faces of their models which are then used in a VR/Pre-viz scene for the film. I suspect this technology is going to be so well received that film companies large and small are going to be coming to Reallusion in droves.



Epic/Unreal Meeting
Epic set up a meeting at the fabulous Palm restaurant in downtown Los Angeles which was a welcome relief from the din of the Siggraph Exhibition Hall. I got to demo an absolutely first-rate mixed reality presentation of the Apollo 11 moonshot from launch to the first step on the moon. The very best interactive mixed reality experience I have ever had courtesy of Microsoft’s new HoloLens 2 joined with Unreal technology. Bravo!

Next, I spoke with Marc Petit who shared his thoughts on the coming release of Unreal 4.23 (follow the link for details) and the success of the 3rd annual Unreal User Group show which took place on Monday. I was also reminded of an amazing guide Epic released called the “Virtual Production Field Guide” which Marc said, “We put a lot of time and effort into that guide.” It was written by Noah Kadner and is freely available for download.

Coffee with a Dear Friend
I closed out my last day with a long and heartfelt conversation with someone who has become a good friend in addition to work. Vicky Gray-Clark is the founder of the pr firm Ambient PR. She’s been my main facilitator with Maxon and Cinema 4D. We’ve always wanted to sit down and get more acquainted, but it wasn’t until today that we made it happen. Since most of our conversation was personal, I can’t share it here. But we did talk about the experience of working the computer graphics industry and how much we like working with bright, positive people. Vicky also has a good sense of humor so it was enjoyable to laugh at the end of a long day. Thank you, Vicky.

Note that this is the last of my daily reports. I’ll be doing a wrap-up in the next few days along with more detailed articles over the coming weeks. I have a lot of info to report so it should be fun.

Sections: News & Features

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