Interview with Joshua Grow, SIGGRAPH´s 2011 Computer Animation Festival (CAF) Chair
2011 marks SIGGRAPH’s 38th edition, and as always, the Computer Animation Festival (CAF) is one of the most anticipated events.
The CAF stands as testament that SIGGRAPH is not only about creation of new tools and technology, but also about how we use them. Case in point, animation has always helped drive computer graphics development. As viewers, we are captivated and immersed in the stories shown to us onscreen, funny commercials, enthralling music videos, and visual effects that defy reality. SIGGRAPH reminds us that these experiences and visuals are made possible through a great combination of art and technology.
Looking back, it is amazing to see that what started out as a Film Show at the first SIGGRAPH conference, in 1974, has become the world’s premier showcase of digital animation. From a modest screening of ¾” videos brought in by attendees, to a juried selection of international works (77 works selected from 891 submissions, this year alone), the Computer Animation Festival has come a long way. The character animation and photo-real effects that were once thought impossible are now being created by students right out of school, new studios are springing up all over the world, and breakthroughs are reached regularly. However, no matter how high the bar is raised, artists and scientists keep building on each other’s advances, continuing to surprise us every year at SIGGRAPH. This year will be no exception.
Joshua Grow, VFX master and current 3D Stereo Manager at The Creative-Cartel, is this year’s Computer Animation Festival Chair. We had the privileged opportunity to speak with him and get an insider’s scoop on the CAF.
First of all Mr. Grow, how did you come to be SIGGRAPH's 2011 CAF Chair?
I began volunteering for the SIGGRAPH conference in 2002 as a Student Volunteer. I remember walking into my first Electronic Theater and being blown away. I was studying psychology at the time; SIGGRAPH made me realize it was time for a major change! I transferred schools, and started studying animation. I was hooked on SIGGRAPH! I continued volunteering with the SV program and stepped up as SV Chair in 2008. In 2009, I was asked to come onboard as Producer for the CAF. Following this, I was invited to be Technical Director for the 2010 CAF, and later, asked to stay onboard as CAF Director for 2011. Most recently, I have been asked to reprise my role and act as Director for the 2012 CAF.
Was there a particular vision/idea that informed the festival this year?
First and foremost, we listened to attendee feedback from the previous year and did everything in our power to fine tune, and in some instances enhance, the Computer Animation Festival. For instance, we have tried to make the Electronic Theater more convenient during the conference week. In addition: we now have an entire day focused on 3D, there's more gaming content than ever before, and we've expanded the production sessions.
What do you think sets SIGGRAPH’s CAF apart from other animation festivals in the world?
SIGGRAPH by itself is an incredibly rich and diverse experience. Combine this with the historic Computer Animation Festival and there's nothing else like it on the planet. In fact, the Computer Animation Festival is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival. Since 1999, several works originally presented in the Computer Animation Festival have been nominated for, or have received, a "Best Animated Short" Academy Award.
This year’s CAF general selections will be featured through a series of daily Festival Screenings as well as selected works shown in the iconic Electronic Theater. For attendees, this means getting a closer glimpse into the making of computer generated effects, visualizations, and animations.
Who are the jurors this year, and how were they selected?
I put together a well-balanced jury of professionals who have a genuine love for computer technology, research and art. I looked for a team of Individuals who are leaders in their respective fields.
This year’s jurors are:
Are there any particular animations in the CAF that we definitely shouldn't miss?
You should not miss the Award Winners:
Best in show: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Jury Prize: Paths of Hate (also seen in 3D, on 3D Day)
Student Prize: Flamingo Pride
On that note, what elements/characteristics make for a great work of animation?
STORY! You can have the most amazing animation, lighting, textures, etc. but if you have a weak story, it ruins everything!
Real-Time Live content has been part of the CAF since 2009. What can you tell us about its contribution to the CAF?
Real-Time Live! has been an integral part of the evolution of the Computer Animation Festival. With each game title released, we are seeing technology and art bridge the gap between films and games, offering stunning visuals achieved with impressive real-time rendering techniques. The Real-Time Live! component of the CAF answers the age old question, "Wait?! Is this Gameplay or Cinematic?!"
Can you give us any additional insight into the CAF Production Sessions offered this year?
This year's Production Sessions are jammed packed with content showcasing breakdowns of major motion pictures and popular game titles including: Killzone 3, Transformers 3, Thor, Captain America and more!
Now talking about the industry in general, what role do you see new distribution mediums (such as iPad's, smartphones, and internet-tv's) playing in the animation industry in the future?
It is interesting that you ask this question. Our very own Best in Show - The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore has a companion iPad app that acts as an interactive storybook, allowing you to control the animation that accompanies the narrated story.
Finally, why should people come to SIGGRAPH Vancouver 2011?
What can someone starting out in the animation industry do to become a great animator?
My biggest advice for anyone starting off in the animation industry is NETWORK!! SIGGRAPH is the perfect venue for networking and shaking hands with the industry's most talented and brilliant minds!
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. Combining it with SIGGRAPH will make for a mind-blowing experience. People will be inspired by both the content and the amazing surroundings. Just by quickly going through the SIGGRAPH 2011 website, you can easily see that SIGGRAPH offers content for just about everyone - from artist to scientist.
Interview by Hernando Bahamon, Bogotá ACM SIGGRAPH