SIGGRAPH 2006 and Beyond

The exhibits, art in the galleries, technologies of SIGGRAPH 2006, etc. didn't point in any directions that were surprising. What was surprising to me was the degree of the emphasis in the given directions. If I could describe the main thrusts of SIGGRAPH, I would divide them into unequal fifths. The largest would be animation; the next largest 3-D programs; then rendering programs; the next hardware with an emphasis on video cards geared only toward the professional, workstations, and high end 3-D scanners, etc; and the last everything else including the very few 2-D programs represented mainly by Corel and Adobe.

When I went to one company that produces video cards, and it shall remain nameless, and enquired about a line of their products, some of which retail for over $600.00, I was told that that line was not professional enough to be shown at SIGGRAPH. The question then becomes, who is at SIGGRAPH and who are the exhibitors?

If one looked around, one would see people of all ages. There were a lot of college age people as well as people in their forties and fifties. When my husband and I first arrived to register for our press badges, we could not see the end of the line for general registration. One of the guards estimated that there were about 400 people in line.

It seemed as if the majority of the booths, as I stated, were geared toward animation-type products. These are expensive. However, if you are a student (even kindergarten in some cases), teacher, or work at a school in some capacity, you can buy this software for a fraction of the cost. Even hardware such as some of the NVIDIA Quadro graphic boards could be purchased at a special price during the show at one of the academic dealers. Other hardware products such as 3-D scanners could go for $2,500 to $25,000.

Displays of hardware and software did not make up the whole exhibition area of the show. Many schools, universities, and colleges, both undergraduate and graduate, were recruiting students. In addition, there were classes, papers, demonstrations of new technology, etc. as well as an art gallery. A lot of the classes and papers fell into the same categories as did the exhibits.

One area that was surprising, however, was the Guerilla Studio, which is mostly a hands-on work place. While it did have some unique interactive displays, such as electronic fashion, it also had some that involved rudimentary techniques using just paint and not even a computer or a printer.

One thought kept popping up as I wandered through the different exhibits and galleries. Will Computer Graphics (CG) leave some of us behind if we are not dedicated to animation and 3-D? What about 2-D photography and pictures using Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop, and other similar programs?