After only the first day of the 41st international event on every computer graphics enthusiast’s calendar, there is already almost too much that can be said for what it shaping up to be a rather excellent SIGGRAPH 2014.
You only have to consider all the wealth of news that was announced before it even began to start getting excited. On the 6th of August, for instance, Next Limit announced the latest version of RealFlow in a 2014 Patch available to download – for free for those with 2014 licenses.
Updates include Hybrido previews that are up to x4 faster, 71+ bugs fixed with more than 21 new features, and the much anticipated RealFlow RenderKit 2014 release candidate.
The next day, MAXON proved they wouldn’t be left behind for long with their own announcement of the brand new Cinema 4D Release 16, which they said would be premiered at their booth #1422 at SIGGRAPH from the 12th to the 14th.
In addition to numerous workflow optimisations, this new release also offers a PolyPen tool for comfortable modelling, a new Motion Tracker feature for easy integration of 3D content with live footage, and the new Reflectance channel, which can be used to create complex materials with multi-layered reflections and specular highlights. Shipping is planned for September 2014.
Side Effects then also had some juicy pre-SIGGRAPH news to make: the announcement of a full-featured, low cost version of Houdini especially for independent animators, Houdini Indie. Replacing the old Houdini Apprentice HD, which was only available for non commercial projects, for $199 annually users of Houdini Indie can rig, animate, light, render and add effects such as hair, cloth, water and smoke to their work without the need for extensive programming.
Even the standalone Houdini Engine has also had a new Indie version added, so for an annual $99, you can load Houdini assets into other software such as Maya, Cinema4D, and 3DS Max, or game editors such as Unity and Unreal.
With Pixologic’s ZBrush Summit bringing news of ZBrush 4R7, a highly anticipated 64bit version, and a host of new modelling tools, as well as big announcements from both NVIDIA and Dell rumoured for Tuesday, SIGGRAPH 2014 in a very sunny Vancouver finally began. Though areas such as the Job Fair and Exhibition were yet to open, and the Bookstore was pretty under stocked due to shipping issues, there was still plenty to be getting on with.
The Ready, Steady, SIGGRAPH panel introduced any newcomers to what the event would bring, while at 10:45 ILM showcased their stunning work with Fractals on Lucy, revealing some never-before-seen shots from the film as they got cut after submission was accepted and work that need up rendering 4 billion points in 4K. DreamWorks’s Frederick Nilsson and Mathew Gong then gave an introduction to the future of animation with the studios’s new next-gen in-house software, Premo, which lets animators literally pose their character directly in the viewport with a pen, no inputting numbers or tweaking graphs required. After more than five years of development, the app also has a host of other very cool features, such as the ability to move lights around to see the changes in real-time, draw right onto the viewport to plan shots or give notes, and even see the ‘ghosts’ of your previous poses at the same time as the current pose you’re working on.
At 2pm, Disney’s Lewis N. Siegel then explained the rendering of frost and ice on Frozen, revealing how they dealt with Reflection, Refraction, and Environmental Contribution as well as dramatically reduced render time with Monte Carlo Russian Roulette ray-tracing. Then, later on in the afternoon, attendees could pick from learning more on The LEGO Movie’s animation, see a panel on augmented and virtual reality, or attend ‘Birds of a Feather’, the Blender Foundation’s community meeting and artist showcase featuring some talented new developers.
After such a packed day, the Technical Papers Fast Forward was the perfect way to end Sunday inspired, presenting a record 173 papers with 30 second intros for each – rap and plenty of references to South Park’s Canadian included. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!