SIGGRAPH

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Get them: http://skitten.org/2015/07/siggraph-2015-google-calendars

As of this moment it’s missing our own event Sunday, but you’re all coming to that anyway, right? I also believe there are one or two parties not listed, such as the Chapters Party.

Oh, and there’s an informal WebGL meetup Saturday night (tonight!) at the bar by the pool at the Figueroa.

Time to get on the plane – see you there!

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Andrew Glassner and I are running a fun little workshop called “Freezing Time” this Sunday, as part of Making @ SIGGRAPH. Details: 12:15-1:45 PM, South Hall G – Studio Workstation Area

We’ll be teaching how to use T2Z, “Time To Z”, a program that lets you generate a 2D animation and then turn it into a 3D printable sculpture. Participants will be provided workstations, and there will be high-speed 3D printers available after the workshop. Can’t make it? Read on… Can make it? Get the code now and have fun on the plane ride to Los Angeles.

T2Z takes the frames of your animation and stacks them to form a 3D sculpture. This three.js program shows the transition for a number of animations – use the mouse to change the camera’s view. It’ll also get your cooling fan cranking, if your GPU is like mine. Turning “cycles” down to 1 keeps it sane.

Here’s a simple example. This animation:

squib animation

gives this sculpture when you stack the frames:

squib sculpture

The (self-imposed) challenge is to create an interesting, looping animation that also creates a visually-pleasing and printable sculpture. This example is pretty good, though the animation doesn’t quite perfectly loop. It would be easy enough to make it loop, but then we lose the base it can sit on. Tricky! If you want to hack on this code, it’s the Wobbly animation in T2Z.

There are many more examples in our gallery. I’ve been playing with the idea of data translation in general; you’ll see some experiments there. It’s been a great excuse for me to learn to use various tools at the local makerspace, Artisan’s Asylum, though I’ve not worked up the courage to actually use the plasma cutter yet. There are also plenty of fun & free tools for data manipulation, such as 123D Make, third-generation Photosynth, Sketchfab, 123D Catch, and on and on.

Even if you can’t attend the workshop, you can easily do this sort of experimentation at home. The T2Z code is free and open source, and well-documented. Companies such as Shapeways give you the ability to print high-quality models. We have lots of little animations in Animations.pde – go mess with them! There are also super-hacky “animations” at the end of this file: AnimatedGifReader turns a GIF into an STL 3D print file, FolderOfFramesReader does the same for a set of PNGs, and HeightField takes a grayscale image and uses the gray as a measure of height, e.g.

Skull3dRelief

skull_relief

Processing is entirely fun to hack on (Debugger? We don’t need no stinkin’ debugger, println() is our only friend). It’s Java plus stuff to make graphics easy. I like the fact that to run the program you are faced with the code – the system invites you to start poking at the program from the outset. Andrew wrote most of the code, being a Processing pro (he wrote a book and teaches a course in it; the first half of his course is free). Me, I translated the Marching Cubes code to Processing: each pixel of each image is treated as a voxel, the 3D model is from the isosurface formed between the objects and the background.

We hope to see you on Sunday! Or better yet, online, where we hope to see you sending us animations for the gallery and pull requests for code you’ve added.

 

Where did all this come from? Last year around May Andrew started making a series of looping GIFs using Processing, taking after the Bees & Bombs Tumblr feed. His goal was to make animations worth posting. These can now be found on Andrew’s Tumblr feed. Steve Drucker and I were the critics, over more than half a year.

During this time I was attending and organizing 3D printer meetups in the Boston area. Mark Stock pointed out a fascinating way of modeling: instead of explicitly using union operations on 3D models, the traditional CAD approach, he instead deposited objects into a large voxel grid. It’s much simpler and faster to figure out if a voxel is inside some given primitive vs. performing a union or other constructive solid geometry operation on a set of models. For example, computing the union of thousands upon thousands of spheres will bring most CAD modelers to their knees. Voxel in/out functions are trivial to compute for spheres, and Marching Cubes then guarantees a watertight, well-formed model with no geometric singularities, precision problems, etc. 3D printers themselves have limits to precision, so using voxels is a good match. Here’s an example of Mark’s work:

Dendrite by Mark Stock

So, for me, these two things combined: animations could be used to define voxels, and Marching Cubes used to generate 3D representations. I made an exceedingly slow GIF to STL converter in Perl and ran a bunch of Andrew’s GIFs through it. A few interesting forms turned up and that got me started on playing with what I call “323,” converting from some three-dimensional form of data (an animation being 2D plus time) to another (a sculpture).

Seeing the call for Making @ SIGGRAPH, we decided to go further and give a workshop on the process. The T2Z program that resulted is massively faster than my original Perl program, generating sculptures in a few seconds. It’s also much more usable, allowing you to make your own animations, hook up sliders to variables, and easily export them as GIFs, a set of PNGs, or a 3D STL model. Programming all this sucked up way more time than expected, and of course was highly addictive. Andrew made this Processing program do things that Nature did not intend (e.g., binary STL output and multi-window UI).

Personally, I find this whole design process entertaining. In idle moments (or at the dentist) I imagine what might make both an interesting animation and a worthwhile sculpture. It’s a fun way to think about modeling and animation, and one where my intuition doesn’t always pay off. The more I play, the more I learn.

Here’s a screenshot, to whet your appetite – click it for the full-size readable version:

screenshot

So download the thing, install Processing and three little libraries (easy!), and start sliding sliders, pushing buttons, and hacking code! And let us know what you find.

BTW, if you want just one link to bookmark, it’s this: http://bit.ly/t2zspot

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Your one-stop shop for SIGGRAPH 2013 links is brought to you by the inestimable Stephen Hill: go here now.

My small contribution to the cause is hosting the talk “Unity: The Chase – Pushing the Limits of Modern Mobile GPU“:

I had a good SIGGRAPH myself. Talked with lots of people, saw some worthwhile presentations. My favorite was Marco Salvi’s, about PixelSync. “Programmable raster ops” doesn’t sound like a big deal on the face of it, but Marco’s talk pointed out all sorts of interesting uses: RGBE encoding, voxelization, and a bunch of others. His slides should be up on the “Advances in RTR for Games” site soon. In the meantime, there are blog entries here, here, and here – all with demos and more.

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If you want to see the list of SIGGRAPH 2013 papers, see Kesen’s site (well, just a start – more coming as they leak out).

If you want to reserve a hotel spot, go here now. It’s free, no deposit or loss if you cancel in time, so I recommend doing so if there’s the slightest chance you’ll go.

(Oh, and if you’re more a GDC fan, happening this week, try watching Twitter, though people haven’t been tagging religiously.)

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Like the title says: find the SIGGRAPH 2012 course presentations here, past the syllabus. Previous years can be found here, as usual.

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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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My schedule for SIGGRAPH so far (sans social gatherings), using this technology where you can put everything on this incredibly light-weight portable screen with an extremely high battery life (though the erase feature sucks if you use the high-contrast “ink” display mode):

SIGGRAPH 2012

I’ve tried various apps over the years and this is what works for me. On the back is plenty of room for quick notes on things to follow-up on after SIGGRAPH, if I write small enough.

Oh, and yes, Emil Persson’s talk is going to happen twice (not his fault, and I consider this A Very Good Thing), as, apparently, is the Processing 2.0 talk, also. Ah, wait, I just heard back from Andres, and the second Processing talk (on Tuesday) is cancelled.

Edits: added Fast Forward (thanks, Hanspeter). Also, I entirely forgot to look at the Exhibitor Talks, which have a few things of interest.

Oh, and here’s a neat Google Calendar thingy for SIGGRAPH 2012 that Dan Wexler pointed me at: http://skitten.org/2012/07/siggraph-2012-google-calendars/

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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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So, please submit something to SIGGRAPH Mobile so that I can further justify attending this year. Deadline is May 1st.

One key research direction: making the phone no longer fit in your pocket. These are some designs to beat (click on the image for more info).

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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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