Hi, I'm Joy, one of the biomedical communicators on the TVASurg production team. Last month I had an opportunity to attend the SIGGRAPH conference, an annual exhibition of computer graphics and interactive techniques. Even though SIGGRAPH is not a conference catered specifically to medical and scientific communicators like the AMI , there are production workflow and technological similarities between us and non-medical/scientific graphic artists, animators, and developers. We both harbour goals to communicate stories through visual media and are motivated to explore new technologies to enhance this visual storytelling.
Ever since I first heard about SIGGRAPH during my Masters studies, I have always wanted to attend. As such, I was extremely grateful to be able to go this year. I was also tremendously excited to learn from experts and innovators from major companies and studios like Maxon, Unity, Disney, and Pixar.
SIGGRAPH offered so many and different kinds of sessions – ranging from production sessions, short courses, talks and workshops. A lot of them ran concurrently so it was impossible for me to attend all of them. On top of these sessions were Emerging Technologies, VR (virtual reality) village, VR theatre where you could experiment with the latest inventions yourself. I picked talks that were relevant to the projects we pursue at TVASurg as well as future technologies that we would be interested in exploring. But I also saved some time for “fun” talks; one described the production process of world-building from the ground up – in this case the bustling city of Meereen from the HBO show Game of Thrones!
Some of my favourite animation talks were Disney’s production session on Moana and Pixar’s talk about how they combined their animation and simulation workflow to make their newest short film Lou. I really enjoyed the Electronic Theatre where we watched newest and award winning animation shorts; some were even rendered in real time! Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos during any of the talks so written notes had to suffice.
In addition to animation, virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) had a huge presence in SIGGRAPH. Google’s talk about the problems they encountered when they made Google Earth VR was one of my favourite VR-related talks. Another highlight was Penrose Studio’s talk about their pipeline for their latest VR animation – Ardene’s Wake. The installations that were demoed at Emerging Technologies and VR villages were both mind-blowing and inspirational. Some of my favourites were AR Mail from Harbin (an augmented reality application for architecture), Merge Cube (a holographic object you can hold in your palm), and MetaLimbs (a pair of robotic arms added to the user’s body controlled by your toes)!
I also managed to squeeze in some time to explore the city of LA! I hiked up to the Hollywood sign, checked out some unique outdoor art installations, beached at Santa Monica, and ate some delicious Korean food in K-town!