3D Artist

3D Artist looks back at Siggraph 2011

News & Features

A sea of luminous green lanyards in and around the Vancouver Convention Centre represented those who’d travelled from the world over to meet, learn and network at the 2011 conference and exhibition. We take a look at some of the highlights

3D Artist looks back at Siggraph 2011

Tools enabling collaboration

Siggraph 2011 highlighted that working together is the key to standardisation

Collaboration was the buzzword flying around the Vancouver Convention Centre in August. Topping the news on the exhibition show floor was the release of Alembic 1.0 (www.alembic.io) from Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). This open-source project supports the better sharing of assets in the CG creative industries through a new interchange format designed to handle the massive animation data sets found in high-end visual effects and animations at the likes of Lucasfilm Animation and ILM.

Other interesting collaborations included Autodesk and Disney’s new partnership to develop the XGen tool, as used to create the impressive hair in feature films ‘Bolt’ and ‘Tangled’. Disney believes that getting its technology out there not only helps others get up to speed, which is useful when it comes to recruiting talent, but also helps establish the company as a tech leader. In it for the long-term benefits, Disney’s focus on XGen combined with Autodesk’s broad development play off each other well, making the future of hair, grass, feathers debris and more look exciting. But despite the announcement, neither party is ready to state how or when the technology will be deployed into Autodesk products – although we suspect Maya will be a given.

The Foundry is a pioneer when it comes to successful collaborations, keeping up pace with progress on Katana through its technology share with SPI. Moving Picture Company and Digital Domain are already using the look-development lighting tool, and with no other solutions dealing with the same level of complexity out there right now, and big studios already placing orders, Katana’s recipe-based approach to scalable lighting is likely to be huge.

Time passes quickly at Siggraph, and a bill packed with talks, papers, screenings, awards, exhibitions, panels, events and the job fair resulted in many satisfied faces. Hosted by Canada for the first time, Siggraph attendees experienced the beautiful city of Vancouver which, with tax credits making it a hotspot for top studios and high quality schools nurturing the next generation of artists, was the perfect setting for Siggraph 2011.

3D Artist looks back at Siggraph 2011

Key announcements

Amongst the many software updates geared for Siggraph, here are just a few:

  • Pixologic announced ZBrush 4 R2, due for release on 20 September for Mac and PC. Showcasing its groundbreaking new features and major enhancements caused an expected buzz on the show floor
  • The Foundry revealed it will release Mari 2.0 at the end of 2011 with PSD support. Currently working hard with AMD, there’s a high chance that version 1.4 will also ship with AMD support
  • Maxon’s Cinema 4D Release 13 boasts new branding, rendering features, SSS and stereoscopic support. Drag-and-drop style character animation and a new muscle system is also welcome news
  • Side Effects Software gave a sneak peek at the anticipated game-changing Houdini 12, which includes a brand new geometry engine for greater speed and improved performance
  • Next Limit launched RealFlow 2012 with a new learning edition, and announced that Maxwell Render 2.6 is on the cards with new features aplenty – along with a couple of strategical partnerships!
  • The Bakery showcased its game-changing lighting, shading and rendering solution, Bakery Relight, an all-in-one 3D lighting and rendering solution for high-end CG
  • Thinkbox unveiled its latest version of the high-volume particle rendering, manipulation and management toolkit, Krakatoa MX 2.0, with new features and improved performance

Future predictions

Although comparisons have been made between Mari and ZBrush/Mudbox, The Foundry is actually looking to take it more down the Photoshop route…

The Foundry is 100% behind Alembic and making great use of SPI’s open source OpenColorIO technology across its entire range of its products, keeping the company right at the forefront of cutting-edge tech. Realising that there’s a need for a high-end general-purpose image-editing system has opened opportunity to develop an intuitive 2D painting application… Could this be competition for Photoshop? Based on The Foundry’s tools, tech and experience to put to use here, we think it could be!


Missed Siggraph 2011? Siggraph Asia is on its way!
Siggraph Asia 2011 will be held in Hong Kong between 12 and 15 December. Visit www.siggraph.org/asia2011 to learn more.