Computer Animation Festival a Must-See at SIGGRAPH 2010

July 1, 2010

This July, the Los Angeles Convention Center will host the 37th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. Also known as SIGGRAPH 2010, the conference will be attended by thousands of people from around the world. One of the true gems of the SIGGRAPH conference is the Computer Animation Festival. At the CAF, one is able to experience the most cutting-edge animation and visual effects available today. There are multiple facets to the five-day festival, but the newly offered Animation Clinic and the talks/production sessions should be on everyone's to-see list.

The Animation Clinic is a new initiative in the Computer Animation Festival. Animation Clinic Producer Steve Rittler was kind enough to offer some great insight on what to expect. The clinic will feature industry leaders and masters of animation on a public panel, providing an arena for student-made films to be critiqued and analyzed. Although no panelist names have yet been released, Mr. Rittler expressed a great deal of excitement with how the panel shaped up.

Each project accepted into the clinic will be reviewed for 40 minutes during multiple public sessions. These sessions should provide the public a glimpse of the thought process used to create what we see in theaters and on television. As mentioned by Mr. Rittler, it should also give students, whose work has been accepted, a "once-in-a-lifetime experience of a live critique of their works-in-progress. This critique can be very valuable to those working to complete their unfinished projects, while also providing welcome promotion – enabling their projects to be viewed by a large audience. Mr. Rittler also stressed the value to the audience, as they will be able to take away the same tips and pointers and apply them to their own future or current projects.

In order to submit a project to the Animation Clinic, students had to provide several elements relating to the production and creative process of their work in progress: a synopsis, a storyline, storyboards, animation tests, examples of visual development, and character design. Even though this is only its first year, the Animation Clinic received a good turnout of submissions. Mr. Rittler shared that the selection team did not just want works that were complete enough to critique, but also works that had a discernible direction and would draw the audience in. The works selected were those that best met these criteria and should make for great critique sessions. In the future, as the Animation Clinic garners more attention and student awareness, Mr. Rittler feels selecting final entries will become all the more difficult with an increasing amount of high caliber submissions.

This year's Animation Clinic is part of an effort to make the structure of the CAF more closely resemble other top film festivals around the world; it appears to be a worthy addition to the SIGGRAPH conference. My thanks go out to Mr. Steve Rittler for taking the time to offer his thoughts and insights.

As for the CAF talks and production sessions, given that the festival features a wide range of works, they provide conference goers a unique opportunity to learn how these masterpieces were created. In the talks and sessions, over 90 projects will be presented, including such genres as narrative character animation, Hollywood digital effects, mainstream television commercials, video games, and more. Having such a diverse group of works means an attendee does not have to be a college gamer or graphics professor to relate to the content; the festival has something for everyone. Attendees may learn the secrets of the stunning movie they saw a few months back, or what went into the mind-blowing commercial airing during the Super Bowl. By learning how these projects were created, viewers will not only get a glimpse into the nuts and bolts of production, but they will also gain a sense of the goals and purposes of different genres. There is a contrast between James Cameron's CGI fest "Avatar," and the HP "Hands" commercials - some projects push the boundaries for the love of the craft, while others are only created to push a product. Whatever the purpose, viewers will see it all at this year's Computer Animation Festival.

There are still a few weeks before the conference, but you better start planning now. SIGGRAPH 2010 will have many "can't miss" events, and the Computer Animation Festival should be one of them. Whether it is the new and exciting Animation Clinic, the talks on the secrets of the trade, or the screening of the most impressive CG works out there, the CAF will not disappoint.