SIGGRAPH 2012 - Day 2

The day started with a little bit of a jolt, since sleepy Mike is apparently unable to operate an alarm clock effectively after watching the Curiosity landing. Once I finally made it to the conference, my first stop was the Pixmondo Hugo production session.

Sneaking in Hand-Painted Frames

My new eye for pipeline was very impressed by the massive amount of data that they automatically collected and shuffled around their numerous facilities. I can only hope that when I finish breaking and rebuilding the data flow at work that it can be even remotely as smooth and impressive.

There was a lot of focus on the miniatures used for the train crash sequence. While many people may question how you could get away with miniatures in stereo since your brain can figure out scales from the stereo imagery, they don't realize that you can simply shrink the scale of the camera system (by scaling the interoccular distance by the same as the model scale). This not only gives you a feeling of the intended scale, but I would believe that the cues picked up by the brain are so powerful that they would likely override other details and let you get away with miniatures even easier than before!

Another interesting challenge in stereo is how to deal with some of the often forgetten details of the medium:

Stereo can turn the most mundane aspects of filmmaking into the most troubling; improperly displaced grain will melt your brain. #siggraph

@mikeboers on . Visit on Twitter.

If you have random grain on both eyes then some fraction of them will line up and be perceived as physical bumps. If you have the same grain on both eyes (potentially offset by a constant amount) then you will perceive a fuzzy veil hanging in the frame. What Pixmondo ended up doing for the heavily stylized segments that called for turn-of-the-century grain is generating one set of grain and displacing it by the disparity map for the second eye, effectively wrapping a layer of grain around all of the objects so it ends up on their surfaces.

Finally, I was delighted to learn that there is at least one shot in the film in which the color was hand painted as an homage to Méliès' films themselves. While it was done in Photoshop, they still made the painter work on a 35mm sized frame. Paraphrased:

You really made some poor bastard paint on that tiny frame?!

Mike Seymour, fxguide

Open Source Can Not Be Cancelled

A few minutes into the time slot for one of the "birds of a feather" sessions, someone from the conference announced that the session had been cancelled for unknown (to them) reasons. The immediate reaction from a fellow named Benjamin (who works at a place called Rushes in the UK) was "How about we just keep talking anyways?". I was delighted at what followed:

The open source pipeline framework #bof at #siggraph was cancelled, but went on anyways due to the enterprising attendants, and a brave MC.

@mikeboers on . Visit on Twitter.

He went on to direct an impromptu discussion with most people electing to stay. I think I have a better handle on answering fundamental questions such as "What is asset management?" and "What is a pipeline?", although those are topics for another time. We ended up with a large mailing list with subgroups for local chapters to carry on the conversation later this year.


I made sure to catch part of the sketching session including CrossShade, for whom I designed and implemented the non-photoreal rendering pipeline for their results. They certainly took what I had created for them and ran with it, creating some really nice looking results.

Someone in the audience asked about integrating the normals (into a depth map), which is something that the researchers and myself both tried to implement (although they were most successful with it than I was). I really wish that we had been able to finish that as the lighting clues from proximate geometry would have been a subtle but fantastic inclusion.

Sake and Desserts

I attended the traditional opening of the sake barrel, in which Paul Debevec enthusiastically landed a quick follow up (and final) blow with his wooden mallet after the carefully choreographed countdown to the first (and synchronized) blow. Shortly after came the annual dessert reception.

I had a number of fun conversations including ambushing the emissaries of Dropbox to quiz them on their upcoming two-factor authentication (which I have confirmation is using OATH, which will work nicely alongside my existing systems). Good for Dropbox for (apparently) sending them just for interest's sake. I also met up with former colleagues and will potentially be getting involved in more graphic research consultation work on the side.

Lots of exciting things are developing!

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