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The deadline for submitting a Talk to SIGGRAPH is February 18 – less than two weeks away as I’m writing this.  Although the time is short, all game developers working in graphics should seriously consider submitting one; it’s not a lot of work, and the potential benefits are huge.  As a member of the 2010 conference committee, I thought I’d take a little time to elucidate.

SIGGRAPH 2010 is in Los Angeles this summer.  Although most people think of SIGGRAPH in connection with academic papers, it is also where film production people share practical tips and tricks, show off cool things they did on their last film, learn from their colleagues, and make professional connections.  Over the last few years, there has been a steadily growing game developer presence as well, which is exciting because SIGGRAPH is a unique opportunity for these two graphics communities to meet and learn from each other. The convergence between the technology, production methods, and artistic vision of film and games is a critical trend in both industries, and SIGGRAPH is where the rubber meets the road.

In 2010, SIGGRAPH is making a big push to increase the amount of game content.  Stop and think for a minute; isn’t there something you’ve done over the past year or two that’s just wicked awesome?  Wouldn’t it be cool to show it off not just to your fellow game developers, but to people from companies like ILM, Pixar and Sony Pictures Imageworks?  Imagine the conversations you could have, about adapting your technique for film use or improving it with ideas taken from film production!

Most film production content is presented as 20-minute Talks (formerly called Sketches); this makes the most sense for game developers as well.  Submitting a Talk requires only a one-page abstract and takes little time.  If you happen to have some video or additional documentation ready you can attach those as supplementary material.  This can help the reviewers assess your technique, but is not required.  If your talk is accepted, you have until the day of your presentation in late July to prepare slides (just 20 minutes worth).

To help see the level of detail expected in the one-page abstract, here are three examples.

A little time invested in submitting a Talk for SIGGRAPH 2010 can pay back considerable dividends in career development and advancement, so go for it!

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Well, not just from the ACM, but also from people involved in the Ke-Sen Huang and ACM Publications situation.

  • ACM SIGGRAPH membership also gives you access to just about all computer graphics papers in the ACM Digital Library. This I knew already, but found that others haven’t realized it. Any conference sponsored by SIGGRAPH is available, from what I can tell, e.g. I3D. I noticed a few weeks ago that the SIGGRAPH 2009  Posters were not accessible to me through this benefit; the ACM fixed this problem when I reported it.
  • Deep linking, where one site links directly to content on another site, is not illegal. The EFF notes that deep linking has not yet been found to be illegal by the courts. However, linking to sites providing infringing (illegal) copies of a work for download is contributory infringement.
  • “Sweat of the brow” compilations, such as the white pages of phone books, are not copyright. There is no original expression involved, so the Supreme Court ruled such are not protected. Paula Samuelson’s article in the Communications of the ACM (Google Scholar hits here) is a fascinating overview. Titles are not copyright. Elements such as the order in a Table of Contents are in a gray area, from what I can see. The ordering and grouping of the articles into sessions may be copyright protected – the courts have not ruled, as far as I know. Changing that order on an external web page would then not be copyright, since it would be a different “original” expression. Alphabetized or numerical ordering is not copyright protected.
  • You do not need to enforce your copyright to maintain it, unlike a trademark. You can ignore an infringement and not lose your rights. So the argument that a copyright must be protected now in order to preserve it in the future is incorrect.

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I recently ran across this link to acceptance rates for papers in graphics conferences.  The SIGGRAPH chart has some missing years (including the first four), presumably because data was not available.  Graphing the trends yields some interesting information:

Excluding years before 1985 (when the conference was still “finding its legs” and acceptance rates were very high), the acceptance rate has hovered between 14.9% (1998) and 23.7% (2007).  The long-term trend appears to be that the acceptance rate is flat, and the number of submitted and accepted papers steadily increase.  In the shorter term, submitted papers appear to be flat or even declining after 2003, with accepted papers following suit (2009 has the lowest number of accepted papers since 2002).  I’m not sure why that is; a 2003 flattening seems too late to be attributable to the dot-com collapse and too early to be related to the big graphics conference restructuring of 2008 (where Eurographics was moved to spring and SIGGRAPH Asia was introduced).  If anyone has a good guess, please leave a comment.

I didn’t bother graphing the other conferences.  The Eurographics table only has information from 1998 (the conference has existed since 1979, only five years less than SIGGRAPH).  From 2002 on the acceptance rate has been similar to SIGGRAPH (before that it was significantly higher).  The I3D table is pretty complete; it shows consistently high acceptance rates, between 25% (1999) and 42% (2008).  Graphics Interface and EGSR (EGWR in earlier years) have similarly high acceptance rates.

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I edit (maybe once a year) the Ray Tracing News. I usually compile a list for subscribers of what’s happening at each SIGGRAPH that’s ray-tracing related. I thought I’d pass on this year’s list; much of it is RTRT (real-time ray tracing) related.

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The book’s not quite shipping yet, but at this point Amazon has it heavily discounted, 33% off. I’m happy about this, as it makes the book cheaper than the second edition, which wasn’t discounted at all by Amazon until recent years. The weird bit is that this discount was available a few weeks back, then was gone when I checked last weekend. Someone let me know today that it’s back, and I just ordered an extra copy (this discount is higher than my author’s discount at AK Peters). I’ve noticed a strong correlation between the discount’s availability and the humidity in Flagstaff multiplied by the average hourly meteor siting rate in Anchorage. In other words, I have no clue when someone will wake up at Amazon and realize they’re paying more for the book than they’re selling it for (it’s true: my publisher said so).

While I’m thinking of it: Naty and I will be at the AK Peters’ booth at SIGGRAPH from 12:30 to 1:30 pm on Wednesday.

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After taking another look at my recent post on 2008 conferences, I thought I would give some context on the various graphics conferences for people who are not familiar with them.

There are a handful of large, international conferences which cover the entire field of computer graphics:

  • The SIGGRAPH annual conference (technically the “International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques”) is the great-granddaddy of graphics conferences. It’s been around since 1974, and is by far the largest conference devoted to graphics. It has historically been attended mostly by academics and people working in film production, and most papers are not about real-time techniques. In recent years the conference has been making an effort to attract more attendees and speakers from the game industry. The quality of the papers tends to be quite high, and many of them are relevant, even the ones discussing offline techniques often have interesting stuff in them. Besides the papers, there are also courses (called “classes” this year) which are very good. In particular, the excellent (but somewhat verbosely-named) “Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games” class has been presented for the last few years and has very good and relevant presentations from leading real-time graphics practitioners. Many of the classes on film production rendering techniques also have a surprisingly large amount of material relevant for real-time rendering. The Computer Animation Festival (which has this year been expanded to a full-scale film festival) showcases the best CG of the year and is always fun to watch. Although SIGGRAPH has so far always been held in the continental United States (often alternating between west coast and non-west coast locations), in 2011 it will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • SIGGRAPH Asia is a new arrival on the scene, being held for the first time this year. It is held in winter and is intended be one of three main “tripod” graphics conferences (with the North American SIGGRAPH conference in the summer, and the Eurographics conference newly moved to the spring). Spreading them evenly throughout the year in this way can enable researchers to submit work when it is ready and not wait for the SIGGRAPH submission deadline – or at least such is the theory. In the past, the existence of other conferences did not prevent most researchers from submitting their work to SIGGRAPH first, but perhaps this will change.
  • The annual Eurographics conference is the third “major graphics conference”. As its name would suggest, it is held in Europe every year, usually in beautiful locations such as Vienna, Prague, and Crete. The quality of the papers is usually quite high, though it also tends to have mostly non-real-time papers (perhaps even more so than SIGGRAPH).
  • Computer Graphics International is smaller than the preceding three. It is sponsored by the Computer Graphics Society (CGS).

There are also several regional graphics conferences:

  • Graphics Interface is the largest and oldest of these (it is roughly as old as the SIGGRAPH annual conference, and indeed claims to be “the oldest continuously-scheduled conference in the field”). It has always been held in Canada. It tends to have a strong HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) component, as well as some good real-time rendering papers.
  • Pacific Graphics (more properly “The Pacific Conference on Computer Graphics and Applications”) has been held in locations such as Tokyo, Taipei, Maui, and Macao. The papers are typically of high quality, and have included some important real-time rendering papers. It will be interesting to see how Pacific Graphics fares now that SIGGRAPH Asia has arrived on the scene.
  • WSCG is a Central European graphics conference. It has had some interesting real-time papers. Unlike the other conferences, the full proceedings of WSCG are freely available.
  • The Spring Conference on Computer Graphics is another Central European graphics conference.
  • SIBGRAPI has been held in Brazil for the past 20 years.
  • AFRIGRAPH is another relatively recent regional conference. It has been held in Cape Town, South Africa since 2001.

Besides the generic graphics conferences, there are many conferences focusing on specific subfields of graphics. The ones of most interest to real-time rendering practitioners and researchers are:

  • EGSR (“Eurographics Symposium on Rendering”) is a relatively large conference focused on all aspects of rendering, both offline and real-time. Some of the most important real-time rendering papers have been published through this conference.
  • I3D (“Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games”) has been around for about twenty years, although it has been an annual conference only for the past few years (and has added the “and Games” part of its title more recently still). I’ve attended it twice, it is a nice, small conference. The papers are a mix of HCI and real-time rendering papers, some of which have been quite important to the field.
  • Graphics Hardware (more properly, the SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Conference on Graphics Hardware) alternates between the USA (where it is co-located with SIGGRAPH) and Europe (where it used to be co-located with Eurographics – since Eurographics was moved to the spring it has been co-located with EGSR). In theory, the papers there should only be of interest to people designing graphics hardware but in practice many of the papers are of great interest to people writing software as well.
  • Like Graphics Hardware, the Symposium on Computer Animation is also held jointly by SIGGRAPH and Eurographics. It similarly alternates between the USA and Europe. Although technically not a rendering conference, the field of computer animation is in practice strongly linked to rendering (in particular real-time rendering) so it is of interest.
  • NPAR (or “Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering”) is another joint SIGGRAPH/Eurographics conference. It is devoted to the rapidly growing field of non-photorealistic or stylized rendering. The first few conferences were held in Annecy, France but it was held in San Diego in 2007 and seems likely to alternate from now on.
  • Although the Symposium on Geometry Processing is also a joint effort between SIGGRAPH and Eurographics, it has only been held in Europe so far. Geometry processing is another topic which is strongly linked to rendering.
  • For the past three years the fast-growing field of interactive ray tracing has had its own conference, IRT (or “Symposium on Interactive Ray Tracing”). It is jointly held by IEEE and Eurographics, and alternates between the USA and Europe.

GDC (or “Game Developers Conference”) is another conference of interest to real-time rendering practitioners. Unlike the previously mentioned conferences, which are run by nonprofit professional organizations like ACM, IEEE, and Eurographics, GDC is run by Think Services, which is a for-profit corporation. It is really more like a trade show than an academic conference, and the presentations do not undergo a strict peer-review process. Much of the material relates to non-graphics topics like gameplay and audio design. Nevertheless, there is much interesting material on real-time rendering presented there by game and graphics hardware developers. Although GDC is held in San Francisco, the GDC brand has recently expanded to cover conferences in Texas, China, and France.

Anyone interested in the field of real-time rendering would be well-advised to attend one of these conferences if possible. If not, the printed proceedings can be purchased for reasonable prices and most are available through various digital libraries. Better still, many of the papers (as well as class notes and other materials) can be found on the web for free – Ke-Sen Huang’s excellent homepage makes for a good starting point.

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One extremely valuable resource mentioned in our portal page is Ke-Sen Huang’s lists of paper preprints from recent conferences. In the last two months, a whole bunch of these have popped up for this year’s conferences. The most relevant of these are:

Some of the other conferences listed on Ke-Sen’s central page deal with topics, such as animation or geometry processing, which may also be of interest. In general, conferences such as these are fertile ground for finding cool and useful new ideas (along with some wildly impractical ones!).

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