August 8th, 2005



So last week I checked out SIGGRAPH at the LA Convention Center. "Ed, what the hell is SIGGRAPH?" you might be asking. Or, "Ed, why is there a wildfire in my loins?" To answer the first question: SIGGRAPH is the annual conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques. And to answer the second: you are a whore.

I primarily went there to meet with this computer animation company we're currently working with in Germany, as we'd only interacted with each other via phone and email. So this was the first time we'd meet in person. Sadly, none of the Germans were wearing black turtlenecks or spiked helmets, or even defecating on each other for that matter. I'm sure they were equally disappointed that I wasn't shooting at looters with a semi-automatic while pimp-smacking my woman, or whatever the stereotype of Korean-Americans happens to be out there.

After our meeting, I thought there might be some interesting geek-etry to check out at the convention center, so I paid a visit.

On the nerd-o-meter, SIGGRAPH even beats out E3. And with the exception of the women walking around clad in motion capture gear, there were zero booth babes. But these guys are the entertainment industry right now. Movies, video games, commercials, fat porn: everybody's not only using computer animation and effects - they're using them by the assload. The last Star Wars was practically a Pixar movie, with the actors being the only non-computerized elements, except for Hayden Christensen. I've even seen computer effects used in an episode of "Sex and the City" to add more snow to Central Park, and to make Sarah Jessica Parker look like a woman.


Some of the cooler things I saw were in the Emerging Technologies section, like this interactive fog. A machine creates a six-foot curtain of mist, which acts as a screen for projections. You can actually touch and move the projected objects around with an electronic wand. The interactive fog had a video game playing at the time. Couldn't figure it out, something to do with catching falling farm animals, which is actually a real sport in the Midwest. They have their own pro league and everything.


They also had some virtual experiences, which allowed you to enjoy the great outdoors without the risk of sunlight tarnishing your exquisitely pasty skin. For 2005, these looked pretty ghetto - check out the Home Depot fans in front of the hang glider to perfectly simulate the invigorating winds over Rio.


Speaking of Home Depot, this was a mini ecosystem I found on display in the Art Gallery, where a houseplant's supply of nourishment and water was dependent on Home Depot's stock price. Imagine the inconvenience of owning this plant: if the stock price fell and your plant started dying, you'd have to run over to the nearest Home Depot and buy several tons of lumber.


Real bugs are nasty and disgusting. But robot bugs are cute. That is until they pierce through your skin and burrow all the way to your brain stem, making you build even more of their robot brothers and sisters in your basement until they eventually take over the planet.


There was a cyber fashion show afterward where runway models displayed the latest in wearable technology. Really wanted to check it out, but couldn't stick around, so I grabbed these pics off Wired. If the Borg wannabe on the left is any indication of what women of the future will look like, then guys of the future are fucked. It may also explain the dude's gear in the center, which is designed to fire lasers at approaching Borg women. Or shoot cold water at bra-less sorority girls. Or spray on a new coat of paint in the den.

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