A lot of hay gets made in this column and on this website about a variety of tradeshows and conferences in our various fields: LDI, InfoComm, PLASA, USITT, and even NAB and CES. I wrote about these in detail in my blogs from InfoComm. Each has its own unique character and contributions to our industry, whether directly or via a sort of trickle-down effect. But, especially from a projection/video perspective, there is a glaring absence in this list—a gathering of professionals so fundamental in its importance to modern media that it is invisible to many—the assembly code to our Flash animations.
SIGGRAPH, now in its 35th year, has been responsible for the birth of so many technologies and techniques for computer graphics that even starting a list is pointless. Suffice it to say: if you sit in front of a computer and make pictures, you owe allegiance to SIGGRAPH. Especially if those pictures have to do with modeling space or objects in 3D, which is going to become more and more important to those of us in projection design. If you want to see what I mean, check out the preview video of their technical papers for 2008 or the trailer for the Computer Animation Festival. Pixar and a whole bunch of Academy Awards came out of that Festival.
Beyond the incredible technology and artistic achievement, I think one of the most important contributions of SIGGRAPH to the world at large is its truly interdisciplinary character. It does a better job than any other show of being a trade show AND a conference. As Glenn Entis, senior vice president of Electronic Arts, says it in the SIGGRAPH 2008 preview video, “It’s the only conference I know that is the premier technical/academic, commercial, and artistic conference in its given field. There’s no other area that I know of that combines all three in one place.” I think some of our industry events could draw some inspiration from SIGGRAPH in terms of its ability to create a fertile environment for innovation/research in addition to sales.
SIGGRAPH 2008 is next week at the Los Angeles Convention Center. If you want to know what technologies you will be using as a projection/video designer in ten years, check it out.