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After talking about open access so much, it feels great to finally be doing something about it! Eric and I are both on the founding editorial board for the Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques (JCGT), a new peer-reviewed computer graphics journal which is open access, has no author fees, and is practice-focused (in the spirit of the Journal of Graphics Tools).

Similar to other journal “declarations of independence”, the JCGT was founded by the resigning editorial board of the Journal of Graphics Tools (JGT). Initially created as a “spiritual successor” to the Graphics Gems series of books, JGT had a unique focus on practical graphics techniques and insights, which is being continued at JCGT.

With Morgan McGuire (the editor-in-chief) and the rest of the editorial board, we plan to leverage this illustrious history, our expertise, and the advantages of online self-publishing and open access to create a truly exceptional journal. But we need your help. Like any journal, JCGT can only be as good as the papers submitted to it.

If you are a researcher, we hope the pedigree of the editorial board, the increase in impact afforded by open access, the lack of author fees, and the streamlined process will make JCGT compelling to you as a publication venue.

We also want to reach out to industry practitioners (especially game developers) who would not typically consider publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Similarly to its predecessor, JCGT emphasizes practicality and reproducibility over novelty and theory, and the papers differ from the typical “research paper” style (lengthy “related work”, “conclusion” or “future work” sections are not required). There are also many advantages to publishing in JCGT vs. more traditional industry channels such as trade conferences, magazines, books, and blog posts. The open access format guarantees wide and immediate distribution, and the peer-review process will provide valuable insights and comments on your work from some of the top experts in the field as well as assure potential readers of the high quality of the work.

Open access to research: an idea whose time has come. Be a part of it!

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UPDATE: The Dailies deadline has been pushed back to May 21st.

The last deadline for submitting SIGGRAPH Talks and Dailies is on May 1st, in just two days (the exact deadline is 22:00 UTC/GMT on May 1st – you can use this website to find out what time that is where you are).

That doesn’t leave much time at all. However a submission to either program can be done quickly, and I’m going to detail the exact steps needed. I’ll list Talks and Dailies separately, since each of these programs not only has a different submission procedure but is relevant to a different audience (Talks are typically presented by graphics programmers and tech artists; Dailies by production artists). This post in general is geared towards game developers rather than researchers, so I’m talking about Word rather than LaTeX, etc.

Last-Minute Talks Submission Process:

  1. Decide what you are going to talk about. Note that SIGGRAPH Talks are only 20 minutes long, and can cover a variety of topics. Some example Talk abstracts are linked at the end of a previous post; the guidelines under “Production Talks” in the Talks page “Evaluation” tab can also be useful. In general if you recently did anything technically cool related to graphics (rendering feature, art tool, asset creation workflow, etc.), it might be a good Talk topic.
  2. Make sure you have any needed permissions from your boss / employer / etc. to submit the Talk.
  3. Write a one-page abstract using this Word template – the links from the first step can also be useful for seeing how to boil down your presentation into a one-page description that will resonate with the jury. Make sure the abstract is only one page long, has at least one image, and clearly describes the specific innovations you will talk about. Save out a PDF file.
  4. If your Talk topic has a dynamic component to it (e.g. it’s about animation, simulation, or anything else that can’t be judged via still images alone), capture a small amount of video to upload with your submission; a few seconds to a minute are enough in most cases. The video must be in QuickTime MPEG-4 or DivX Version 6 formats, and the file size should not exceed 100 MB (smaller is better for ease of uploading – try to keep the file small by reducing resolution and increasing compression  – not too much or it will be hard to see the visual quality of your results).
  5. Create an account in the SIGGRAPH Information System (just log in if you already have an SIS account). Click on this link, fill in the items marked in bold red, and click the “Create My Account” button at the bottom. An email will be sent to the address you provided – make sure it wasn’t caught in a SPAM filter (it will arrive from [email protected]) and use the provided temporary password to log in. Check the “Change Password” checkbox, type in your temporary and new passwords and click the “Save” button and subsequent “OK” button.
  6. Click on “Begin a New Submission”. You may be asked to verify your account details – if this happens look them over, make any needed changes, click the “Save These Changes” button at the bottom, and click “Begin a New Submission” again.
  7. Look for the “Late Breaking” submission type, and click the “Create” button on that row.
  8. Copy-paste some appropriate text from the one-page abstract you previously wrote to fill in the “Title”, “Summary Statement” and “Short overview” sections. Select a few appropriate keywords and a primary jury  category (most likely “Behind the Scenes”, “Best Practices”, or “Methods and Systems”) from the drop-down lists provided. If you’ve previously presented the work elsewhere (e.g. GDC), check the appropriate checkbox and provide details. If the material you are uploading now differs in some significant way from the final presentation (e.g. you are using test assets now and will show final game assets at SIGGRAPH), check the appropriate checkbox and provide details. Ignore the “English Review Service” checkbox – there won’t be time to make use of that service; if you’re not fluent in English, ask a friend or colleague who is to help look over your submission. Don’t worry about the two Education Resources checkboxes either. Click the “Next>>>” button at the bottom of the page.
  9. Select “Yes” for “I have the necessary rights, permissions, and/or licenses…” (make sure you are indeed not uploading anything you don’t have the rights for – as long as its all from your work and your employer is OK with it you should be fine). In most cases you will select “No” for “My material contains audio” unless you are planning to upload video with an audio track (which you typically won’t need to do). If there is audio make sure it isn’t something like a song you don’t have permissions for (if this is in-game audio and your employer approves, you are likely OK here).
  10. You won’t have time now to ensure your employer is OK with all the various permissions, so just click “Deny” on the “To grant or deny all of the following rights to SIGGRAPH 2012…” option. Plan to talk to your employer after the deadline and try to get permission to grant as many of these as possible – if your submission is accepted you will be able to modify the permissions later (make sure you do!), and if it isn’t it won’t matter. Enter your full name in “By entering my full name…” on the bottom of the page and click “Next>>>”.
  11. On the “Add Presentation Formats” page, click the “Create->” button for the “Talk” format.
  12. Choose “20 minutes” for the length of your talk – it’s hard to get longer talks accepted and most topics of interest can be squeezed into 20 minutes. Click “Eligible for Studio Talk” if your talk has anything to do with asset or level creation, especially if there is a user-generated content aspect. Click “Next>>>”.
  13. Use the next page to upload the one-page PDF abstract you previously created. Also upload a “representative image” (typically the same image you used for one of the abstract figures, in JPEG format), and any video you have captured previously. Click “Next>>>”.
  14. Use the next page to add any co-authors. You can also add them later if the Talk is accepted, so if you don’t have time to do so now it’s OK. Click “Next>>>”.
  15. You are now done; you can still log in again any time before the deadline to tweak your submission if you want. Good luck!

Last-Minute Dailies Submission Process:

  1. Decide which of your work you will show. Dailies presentations are extremely short (about 2 minutes); they are intended to showcase a single bit of high-quality production art (animation, model, sequence, rig, effect, shader, etc.). There should also be an interesting backstory of some kind (an impossible deadline, a late-night inspiration, an artistic argument, an unexpected romance, etc). This example Dailies presentation and lists of accepted Dailies from SIGGRAPH 2010 and from SIGGRAPH 2011 might help in picking the right piece.
  2. Make sure you have any needed permissions from your boss / employer / etc. to submit the artwork.
  3. Write up the backstory of working on the piece. Did you have to work under a completely unreasonable deadline? Did you end up doing the exact opposite of what the art director said she wanted and she loved the results anyway? Did your life experiences inform the work (e.g. a background in breakdancing influencing a combat animation)? This should be an amount of text you can read onstage in less than two minutes, while video of your artwork plays behind you. Save out a PDF file of your backstory from Word, Google Docs etc.
  4. Capture a video (no more than 90 seconds long) which shows your work; this would be something like a model turntable, looping animation, progression sequence, etc. The submitted video needs to be QuickTime, H264 encoded, 640 x 360p, up to 90 seconds, no sound. This low-res video is just for reviewing purposes; upon acceptance you will need to submit a 720p video.
  5. Create an account in the SIGGRAPH Information System (just log in if you already have an SIS account). Click on this link, fill in the items marked in bold red, and click the “Create My Account” button at the bottom. An email will be sent to the address you provided – make sure it wasn’t caught in a SPAM filter (it will arrive from [email protected]) and use the provided temporary password to log in. Check the “Change Password” checkbox, type in your temporary and new passwords and click the “Save” button and subsequent “OK” button.
  6. Click on “Begin a New Submission”. You may be asked to verify your account details – if this happens look them over, make any needed changes, click the “Save These Changes” button at the bottom, and click “Begin a New Submission” again.
  7. Look for the “SIGGRAPH Dailies” submission type, and click the “Create” button on that row.
  8. Enter a title for your submission, as well as a one-sentence summary of the art piece and a slightly longer (2-3 sentences) overview explaining the key points (why it is good/interesting/etc.). Don’t worry about the Education Resources checkboxes at this point. Click the “Next>>>” button at the bottom of the page.
  9. Select “Yes” for “I have the necessary rights, permissions, and/or licenses…” (make sure you are indeed not uploading anything you don’t have the rights for – as long as its all from your work and your employer is OK with it you should be fine). Select “No” for “My material contains audio” (your captured video should not have an audio track).
  10. You won’t have time now to ensure your employer is OK with all the various permissions, so just click “Deny” on the “To grant or deny all of the following rights to SIGGRAPH 2012…” option. Plan to talk to your employer after the deadline and try to get permission to grant as many of these as possible – if your submission is accepted you will be able to modify the permissions later (make sure you do!), and if it isn’t it won’t matter. Enter your full name in “By entering my full name…” on the bottom of the page and click “Next>>>”.
  11. Use the next page to upload the PDF backstory you previously created. Also upload a “representative image” (just a frame from your captured video, in JPEG format), and the video itself. Click “Next>>>”.
  12. If your piece has any co-authors (most Dailies just have one author, but there might be someone else you want to also credit on the piece) use the next page to add them. You can also add them after acceptance, so if you don’t have time to do so now it’s OK. Click “Next>>>”.
  13. You are now done; you can still log in again any time before the deadline to tweak your submission if you want. Good luck!

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One of the best SIGGRAPH venues for showing off real-time rendering applications, Real-Time Live, has a deadline on April 9th – just four days away.

SIGGRAPH Real-Time Live is a showcase of the very best real-time graphics of the year, running live before a large audience of the world’s top graphics researchers and practitioners.

Presentations are about 5-10 minutes long, and typically involve one presenter running the application while another discusses some key technical features. The trailer can give an idea as to what these presentations are like. Previous year’s Real-Time Live presentations have included games such as “God of War III”, “Fight Night”, and “Blur”, graphics demos from GPU & engine vendors as well as the demoscene, and other cutting-edge examples of the best of real-time graphics – scientific visualization, medical imaging, you name it.

The deadline is only 3-4 days away, but fortunately submission to the program is easy, requiring only five minutes of footage and filling out some web forms. If you’ve worked on any kind of real-time graphics application, you may want to consider submitting it to this unique program.

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Yoshiharu Gotanda, the CEO and CTO of tri-Ace, has given many excellent graphics presentations over the years, mostly focused on physically based real-time rendering. Gotanda-san’s presentations are hosted on the tri-Ace research webpage. Some of these were originally given in English; these include presentations at  GDC 2005, 2009 and 2012, as well as SIGGRAPH 2010 courses on shading (slides, course notes) and color (slides, course notes). However, many of Gotanda-san’s presentations were given in Japanese at the CEDEC conference, and the slides are also in Japanese.

Fortunately, the slides for two of these presentations (from CEDEC 2011) have been translated into English, in a collaboration between Gotanda-san and Marc Heng (Square Enix Japan). In addition, reviews of the English version were performed by Sébastien Lagarde (DONTNOD Entertainment) and myself. These presentations deal with the theory and implementation of physically based rendering used in the tri-Ace 2011 demo trailer, as well as forthcoming titles. Both presentations are highly recommended.

Hopefully in the future, other good CEDEC graphics presentations by Gotanda-san and others (e.g. Masaki Kawase) will be translated into English.

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Any Southern California game industry graphics people who weren’t planning to attend I3D this year might want to reconsider; there is a great deal on registration prices for the last day (this Sunday). Sunday has been packed with the most highly relevant content for game developers (though there is some great stuff in the previous two days as well), and there is a special one-day registration price of $125. This sum gets you a panel on sharing technical ideas in the games industry (moderated by Marc Olano – the panelists are Mike Acton, Mark DeLoura, Stephen Hill, Peter-Pike Sloan, Natalya Tatarchuk, and myself), as well as three paper sessions. These sessions include the following papers:

Besides the technical sessions, I3D is a great opportunity to meet and talk to some of the top experts in real-time graphics; if you’re local and not already planning to attend, I warmly recommend it.

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Full Disclosure Update: in the original post, I forgot to mention my affiliation with the SIGGRAPH 2012 committee (I’m the Games Chair).

I’ve given several presentations at SIGGRAPH, and have spoken to many other game developers who have done the same. We have all found it to be an amazing experience; fun, career-enhancing, educational, and somehow simultaneously ego-boosting and humbling.

While there are many other conferences (GDC being uppermost in many game developer’s minds) SIGGRAPH holds a special place for anyone whose work involves computer generated visuals. For almost 40 years, SIGGRAPH has united the many disparate communities working in computer graphics, including academic research, CAD, fine arts, architecture, medical and scientific visualization, games, CG animation, and VFX. Each year the conference attracts the top technical and creative minds of the field for a week-long pressure cooker of learning, discussing, presenting, arguing, networking, and brainstorming about everything to do with computer graphics.

SIGGRAPH 2012 will take place in Los Angeles this August. There is a great opportunity for game developers to present at this year’s conference, but time is short since one of the most important deadlines is less than two weeks away.

Presenting at SIGGRAPH is a lot easier than most people think. While it is true that the quality bar is high, there are several programs that are seeking exactly the kind of practical, real-world advances and innovations that happen all the time in game development. Of these, the SIGGRAPH talk program is the most friendly to game developers; proposals for these 20-minute talks are easy to prepare and the topics covered vary from rendering and shading techniques through tool and workflow improvements to specific look development and production case studies. As a general rule of thumb, If it’s high-quality work and the kind of thing a graphics programmer or technical artist would do, chances are it would make a good SIGGRAPH talk proposal.

The general submission deadline for talks is in just under two weeks, on February 21. That isn’t a lot of time, but fortunately talk submissions only require preparing a one-page PDF abstract and filling out some web forms (additional materials can help if you have them – more details can be found on the talk submission page). Still, getting approval from management typically takes time, so you shouldn’t delay if you are interested. To get an idea of the level of detail expected in the abstract, and of the variety of possible talks, here are some film and game Talk abstracts from recent years: Making Faces – Eve Online’s New Portrait Rendering, MotorStorm Apocalypse: Creating Explosive and Dynamic Urban Off Road Racing, It’s Good to Be Alpha, Kami Geometry Instancer: putting the “smurfy” in Smurf Village, Practical Occlusion Culling in Killzone 3, and High Quality Previewing of Shading and Lighting for Killzone3.

If you are reading this, please consider submitting the coolest thing you’ve done last year as a Talk; the small time investment will repay itself many times over.

Good luck with your submissions!

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The Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games (I3D) has long been one of my favorite conferences. Best described as a “real-time focused mini-SIGGRAPH”, I3D is a typical smaller conference in that it’s single-track (no worries about overlapping sessions), and the attendance is low enough (around 200 people) that you have a hope of meeting and talking to most of the people.

This year, the conference schedule has been structured to be especially friendly to game developers that are either flying into San Francisco the previous week to attend GDC or that are based close to the conference venue in Costa Mesa. If you belong to either of these two groups, you would do well to include I3D in your plans – the content is very strong this year.

The first day of I3D overlaps GDC, but the organizers were kind enough to occupy that day with content primarily targeted at other industries; game developers who fly down from GDC to catch the last two days of I3D over the weekend will get almost all of the relevant content. This scheduling is also useful to local game developers who aren’t going to GDC, since they won’t need to miss a day of work.

I3D’s papers have typically been of high quality (on average much more likely to be useful to game developers than SIGGRAPH papers), and this year is no exception. As usual, Ke-Sen Huang has a preprints links page up, and most of the papers are already available.

The most interesting paper sessions for game developers in my opinion are “GPU Rendering” (with the papers A Reconstruction Filter for Plausible Motion Blur, Decoupled Deferred Shading for Hardware Rasterization, and Rectilinear Texture Warping for Fast Adaptive Shadow Mapping), “Surfaces and Textures” (with the papers Surface Based Anti-Aliasing, Efficient Pixel-Accurate Rendering of Curved Surfaces, and Multiresolution Attributes for Tessellated Meshes), and “Global Illumination and Ray Tracing” (with the papers Real-Time Bidirectional Path Tracing via Rasterization, Delta Radiance Transfer, and Fast, Effective BVH Updates for Animated Scenes). Other paper sessions with material of interest to game developers include “Scattering and Reflection” and “Motion Capture and Animation”. All of these paper sessions are on the last two days.

Besides papers, I3D 2012 will also feature a keynote by Prof. Dinesh Pai (a prominent sensorimotor researcher at the University of British Columbia), a CAD industry talk by Mauricio Vives (a graphics software engineer at Autodesk), a banquet dinner including a talk by a yet-to-be-determined speaker from NVIDIA, poster presentations, and a game industry session (the details of which have not yet been announced, but from what I’ve heard it promises to be very good). All of these sessions except for the keynote are on the last two days.

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A few days ago, I urged (besides other actions), submitting responses to the RFIs from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding access to research. I myself responded to the the RFI regarding peer-reviewed scholarly publications (I didn’t feel qualified to respond to the other one regarding access to research data sets since I don’t use those as much in my work). The reply I sent is after the break – please note that this is my (Naty’s) personal opinion, and may not reflect Eric and Tomas’ positions.

Read the rest of this entry »

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If you care about open access to research (and you should), there are several actions (some quite time-critical) that you can take to protect it.

First, some background (if you’re already familiar with this issue and just want to know what to do about it you can skip to the “1,2,3” list at the end and read the rest later).

In 2008, legislation was passed in the United States requiring all National Institute of Health (NIH) funded researchers to submit their papers to an openly available repository within a year of publication. The (perfectly reasonable) logic was that since the American public had paid for the research with their taxes, they had a right to see it without going through paywalls. If anything, the flaws in the legislation were that it did not cover all Federally-funded research, and that it still allowed publishers to lock papers up for one year.

Of course, scientific publishers (with a “researchers do all the work, we take possession of the results and sell them back to researchers” business model that resembles nothing so much as the “the sun grows the food, the ants pick the food, the grasshoppers eat the food” motto from Pixar’s film “A Bug’s Life”) hated this and immediately tried to stop it. They were unable to do so, which is very fortunate since the open access repository, PubMed Central, was a huge boon to everyone from researchers, to physicians, to patients trying to keep up with research into their diseases.

About a year later, the US Government started a “Request For Information” (RFI) process to figure out if this policy should be expanded to other Federally-funded research. Of course, for-profit scientific publishers like Elsevier filed lengthy letters against this. One would think that non-profit professional organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) would not have such a short-sighted, rent-seeking position. Surely they would put the advancement of human knowledge ahead of their revenue streams? Well, no. Perhaps not so surprising, given their previous actions.

Fast forward to January 2012, when another legislative attack on Federal open access mandates was launched – the Research Works Act. In the charming bought-and-paid for tradition of US legislation, this was written by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), a lobbying group whose members have made large contributions to the campaigns of the two U.S. Representatives introducing the bill – a fact that I am sure had no influence whatsoever on their support. This bill makes it illegal for the government to mandate open-access; it would shut down PubMed Central (sorry, cancer patients! we’ve got revenue streams to protect!)  as well as making any similar initiatives impossible. The timing of this bill was especially suspect, since it was launched a few days before the deadlines for another set of RFIs regarding open access. This odious bill launched a well-deserved internet shitstorm; our blog is relatively late to this party.

Sadly (but not surprisingly), it turns out that the ACM is a member of the AAP. One might hope that this was merely a case of the AAP doing something that some of its member organizations disagree with, but the ACM seems to like the Research Works Act just fine. You’ll like that last link; it’s one of the finest examples of disingenuous and circular reasoning I’ve seen in a while. Just to put a cherry on top of this shit sundae, it turns out that the AAP is also a supporter of SOPA (I’m now afraid to hear ACM’s own position on SOPA).

At this point, you’re most likely reading through a red veil of righteous rage. Fortunately, there are things you can do about this; some need to be done now.

  1. If you are a researcher or someone who uses research, email responses to the two RFIs from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy concerning access to Federally-funded research (one regarding peer-reviewed scholarly publications and one regarding research data). The deadline is in just three days. Although these are US government RFIs, my understanding is that you don’t have to be a US citizen or reside in the USA to respond. Harvard’s RFI response is worth reading for reference, though it is quite long.
  2. If you are a US Citizen, let your representatives know how you feel about this legislation. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has the information you need to do so.
  3. If you are an ACM member, let the ACM know how you feel about their support for this act and the ACM’s membership of the AAP; be polite! The ACM bureaucracy is complex, but as far as I can tell the most appropriate people to contact are: Alain Chesnais, ACM President (achesnaisacm.org), Bernard Rous, ACM Director of Publications ([email protected]), and Cameron Wilson, ACM Director of Public Policy ([email protected]). If you are a member of some other professional organization that belongs to AAP, contact it as well.

It’s time to let the scientific publishers know that things are going to change. From now on, the ants pick the food, the ants eat the food, and the grasshoppers leave!

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For convenience (using the CIC 2011 tag works but shows posts in reverse order), this post combines all the links to my CIC 2011 posts. Note that video for many of the presentations is available online, and many of the papers are also available on the various author’s home pages.

  1. Introduction
  2. Courses A
  3. Courses B
  4. Featured Talks
  5. Papers
  6. Special Session (on Color Spaces)

Next year, CIC will be in Los Angeles, between November 12 and November 16. If you are local, I warmly recommend attending at least some of the courses, especially the two-day “fundamentals” course.

Two recommended (albeit somewhat expensive) resources for people interested in further study of color topics:

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