Monday, August 18, 2008


I started today with a panel called Games: Evolving on an Order of Magnitude: During initial development of Playstation games, development teams averaged 15 artists, designers, and programmers with three to four technical engineers. For PS2, average project requirements increased to 55 artists, designers, and programmers with a technology team of 20 engineers. Now, for next-generation platforms, developers are seeing asset and team growth of an order of magnitude, but not necessarily the same growth in budgets or timelines. The greatest challenge now for game developers is to create economies of scale and pipeline efficiencies to accommodate project teams that are currently averaging 100-120 artists, designers, and programmers with 30 technical directors, programmers, and engineers. How do these companies address the complexity of programming and increased demands for quality and quantity of art assets to achieve near-life visuals?

Wow, that's a long description. I heard some good stories, and something interesting I took out of was from Steve Theodore of Bungie. He said that they removed all instances of File Explorer, et al, from their systems and relied on Search for finding files, assets, etc. He said that they saved roughly a man-year by doing this, and I'm going to see if I can translate that to our office.

Next up was a class - Advanced Material Appearance Modeling: For many years, appearance models in computer graphics focused on general models for reflectance functions coupled with texture maps. Recently, it has been recognized that even very common materials such as hair, skin, fabric, and rusting metal require more sophisticated models to appear realistic. This class begins with a brief review of basic reflectance models and the use of texture maps. It describes common themes in advanced material models (combining the effects of layers, groups of particles, and/or fibers); surveys the detailed models needed for materials such as (but not limited to) skin (including pigmentation, pores, subsurface scattering), plants (including internal structure), and automotive paints (including color flop and sparkle); and summarizes modeling of complex appearance due to aging and weathering processes. The class includes a general taxonomy of effects, as well as methods to simulate and capture these effects.

I'm on the record for liking the latest incarnation of Speed Racer, so I was able to check out the last thirty minutes or so of the Production Session called "Speed Racer": How Digital Domain, ILM, and Sony Pictures Imageworks Transformed a Vintage Anime Into a Wild Ride for the 21st Century: As the numbers of visual effects shots per film soar into the thousands, a huge army of artists, technical directors, and managers collaborates to create dazzling spectacles. In this session, supervisors from three of the principal studios reveal the psychedelic design, elaborate car animation, and complexities of collaboration required to create a very wild cinematic ride.

I caught another panel under the Computer Animation Festival banner called Flash Forward: From the classroom to the desktop, from the gallery to the television, Flash makes animation accessible and entertaining. Here is a full hour of some of the best Flash work in the world.

I heard from Greg Araya, one of the artists that make Foster's House for Imaginary Friends on the Cartoon Network, saw some nice interface work from Ken Martin of Blitz Agency as well as heard from one of the creators of JibJab, who created the "This Land is Your Land" Flash piece.

Flash is one of the applications for which I'll be creating some consumer usage models, so it was good to see how some of these people worked.

Thursday night was also the SIGGRAPH reception, and we got our money's worth! All of right field was reserved at Dodgers Stadium for a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies.


Underneath right field they had all kinds of free food. A Mexican food area, Asian Splendor, hamburgers and Dodger Dogs, ice cream bars, and they gave out a coupon for one free drink.

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We left around the 8th inning with the Dodgers leading 3-1, and we got out right in time. We missed a whole lotta crowd.


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