August 2012

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I asked Patrick Cozzi if he knew of any WebGL editors working in the browser. There turn out to be quite a few, each with their own focus:

Enjoy! And let us know of any others you find.

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The slideset and notes for the SIGGRAPH 2012 talk “Advanced Lighting for Mobile”, given by Sam Martin of Geomerics, are up for download. Lots of interesting tidbits, useful even if you’re not programming for mobile devices.

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Edit: wow, this page has almost everything from SIGGRAPH 2012 (thanks, Sebastian, and especially Stephen Hill!).

Just two course notes links I happen to have, though I’m sure Naty has considerably more:

Beyond Programmable Shading – an interesting course as usual. The introductory talk by Aaron Lefohn points to the rise of the ComputeShader, and Johan Andersson’s “5 Major Challenges” talk gives a thorough overview of the graphics problems currently facing cutting-edge game developers such as DICE.

Unity: iOS and Android – Cross-Platform Challenges and Solutions - from the Mobile session, these are the slides from Renaldas Zioma’s presentation about what they found while moving Unity 3D to mobile devices. I liked this talk so much I asked to host it at our site. Here’s an introduction by Renaldas to the talk itself, with some surprising audience stats.

Eventually the course notes for Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games should also be available.

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Andrew Woo and Pierre Poulin will be signing their new book “Shadow Algorithms Data Miner” at the CRC Press/AK Peters booth, #929, at SIGGRAPH, Wednesday, 3-4 pm.

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Dan Wexler pointed out this great page by skitten, which lets you quickly load up your Google Calendar with all SIGGRAPH events. Dan notes, “I’ve used these the past three years and they are fantastic”. Non-West-Coasters: don’t try to use these events for planning before SIGGRAPH, unless you go lock the time zone to West Coast times (or if you like to be three hours late for everything).

So if you want to thank Dan in person, see their talk, Intelligent Brush Strokes, around 4:20 pm Thursday, room 408A. Or virtually thank him by checking out the one-page abstract or the related, and brand-new, Glaze iPhad/iPone app.

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If you’re interested in the new open-access “Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques“, some of us editors, contributors, and other birds of a feather are informally meeting up at SIGGRAPH 2012. You’re welcome to come and chat (half the point of SIGGRAPH, amirite?):

Time: 5:30-6:30 pm Monday (just before this party in the same hotel)
Place: Marriott HQ hotel lobby, behind registration. This area:

Yes, this time conflicts with the Electronic Theater on Monday, etc., etc. – every time almost every day from 9 am to 8 pm on conflicts with something, and oddly no one wanted a 7 am meeting.

Morgan McGuire, the Editor-in-Chief of JCGT, won’t be attending SIGGRAPH, but has a great blog entry about JCGT’s progress and status. The whole post is worth reading, and I’ll repeat the last part here:

How is the JCGT board funding the journal?

The answer comes in three parts. First, it isn’t that expensive to publish a graphics journal electronically. All of the writing, editing, and reviewing is done by volunteers and most of the software is free open source (LaTeX, BibTeX, Apache, MySQL, mod_xslt2, Emacs, Ubuntu, etc.). The board is unpaid, as is the case for most academic editorial positions. Graphics authors and editors are capable of producing professional-quality typesetting, layout, and diagrams on their own.

Second, Williams College has a grant from the Mellon Foundation to create digital archives to match the quality and reliability of the college’s substantial physical scholarly archives. Those physical archives are in rare books, visual art, scholarly journals, and congressional papers. I find the breadth and depth of those fascinating: the college’s holdings include original drafts of the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution, first editions of major scientific works such as Principia Mathematica, and paintings by major artists such as Picasso. The college is well-positioned to archive and conserve digital computer graphics papers and unlike a commercial publisher, an academic library has no agenda for those materials beyond preserving knowledge for all.

Third, the minor incidental costs of advertising, hosting, and legal are being picked up out of pocket by a few of us. Of of the financial contributions and dues I’ve given to graphics organizations, this was the one I was most pleased to make. We’re not accepting donations or seeking outside funding–that would subject us to bookkeeping overhead and legal requirements. If you want to support the journal, the best way to do so is to read it, write for it, and offer your services as a reviewer.

One other tidbit: the first paper accepted by JCGT has been downloaded over 10,000 times in four weeks. Clearly there’s a high curiosity factor for an inaugural article, but reaching this wide an audience is a good sign.

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…is now up for viewing here – a great resource to help you plan your SIGGRAPH schedule. Even if you’re not attending SIGGRAPH, the lectures should be available online soon after.

As a reminder, material from the previous years’ courses is available here.

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by Patrick Cozzi, a guest blogger

(I was corresponding with Patrick and found he knew way too much about WebGL, so asked him to write something down. – Eric)

Although I am a long-time C++ and OpenGL developer, I’ve been developing full-time in JavaScript and WebGL for the past year and a half on an open-source 3D engine, Cesium, for virtual globes and maps. Here are some of my favorite WebGL resources.

Reading

SIGGRAPH

  • The WebGL BOF, organized by Ken Russell, will have a series of five-minute lighting talks with a focus on demos, including a Cesium demo I’m giving. Last year the room was packed – people standing, sitting on the floor, and crowding around the door. Let’s hope the room is a lot bigger this year.
  • Graphics Programming for the Web is a timely new course by Pushkar Joshi, Mikaël Bourges-Sévenier, Ken Russell, and Zhenyao Mo covering WebGL and other relavant HTML5 techniques. It sounds like it will be pretty broad, which is great for C++ developers like me that recently started to pretend to be web developers.
  • Although not WebGL-specific, I’ll be at the Rest 3D BOF organized by Rémi Arnaud. I’ll even miss part of Beyond Programmable Shading for it. Rest 3D is defining a REST API for accessing 3D content over HTTP. If it gets widespread adoption from content providers, WebGL apps using the API will have access to a ton of content, which is a big win for everyone.

Need to convince management/leads to consider WebGL?

  • WebGL is cross-platform, and doesn’t require an install, plugin, or admin rights. IE doesn’t support WebGL, but there are several options. We’ve found Chrome Frame to be the best because it installs without requiring admin rights, and also brings Chrome’s fast JavaScript engine.
  • WebGL browser support is increasing. Check out the WebGL Stats by Florian Bösch. It currently reports that 65.6% of desktop browsers across all OSes support WebGL. (more stats for Firefox here).
  • JavaScript doesn’t suck that much, really. JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford and his other JavaScript writings are great reads. There are downsides too, of course; for example, I have a much harder time rationalizing about performance in JavaScript than I do in C++. Fortunately, the built-in Chrome profiler is painless to use.

Tools

  • The WebGL Inspector by Ben Vanik allows us to step through WebGL calls or just draw calls, and view textures, buffers, shaders, and the current state – think gDEBugger for WebGL. I like to use it as a sanity check to make sure we are not making too many draw calls or loading too many textures.
  • Our WebGL Report uses a pipeline diagram to display the system’s WebGL capabilities such as maximum texture size and number of texture image units.

Finally, the WebGL wiki has a ton of great resources including a list of frameworks and more.

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