Siggraph 2007 San Diego



















Great location, little innovation


The San Diego Convention Center is an incredible sight on it's own, with a futuristic lobby and lots of natural light. I was there for two days, mostly wandering around the show floor to look out for new production-ready tools.
Strangely enough, there isn't really much HDR-related stuff to report.

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Holographic projection


The real eye catchers were to be found at the Emerging Technologies show. This one is a spinning mirror, that is synched with a projector to always show a slice of a 3d object. As it spins, the slices blend into one static, albeit slightly flickering holographic projection. In other words, it looks precisely like a Star Wars communicator.
Super cool was the fact that the X-Wing demo from the paper could be rotated in 3d with a hacked WII-mote control.

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Microsoft Surface


Also great to see in action was this interactive table. Almost strange to see such great design and user interface come from Microsoft. They shot snapshots from the audience, laid the phone on the table, and the images would literally just pour out via Bluetooth. The device really holds up to the slick presentation on Microsoft's Website.
Rumor has it, that the initial price tag will be somewhat like 50 grand, so that might be the reason why it was shown at the Emerging Technologies show instead of the Show Floor.

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electronic paper coming out of age


ePaper has been around for a while, pretty much everywhere except the US. Personally, I am the proud owner of a Sony Librie, directly imported from Japan, and I love it and hate it at the same time. The US version, called the Sony Reader, is better in supporting PDF and open standards and built in better quality. But ultimately, it has the same fundamental flaw: You can't write on it. It might look like paper, read in bright sunlight just like paper, but you can't use it like a paper printout.
Not so with the iRex iLiad: You can write on it with a stylus, and save your scribbles back to file. Bigger screen, and a notepad-only mode! Now that would be a true paper replacement, even though $699 is still a little bite more pricey than a notepad from Staples...

eInk Corporation, the sole makers of the display, has also showcased a prototyping kit of the latest generation: the Vizplex imaging film. It runs Linux, sports a higher resolution and 8 shades of gray, which really makes photos look like fine art prints.

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Light Stage for everyone


Paul Debevec's Lightstage used to rule the Emerging Technologies floor, showing quite impressively how HDR images can be used to light real actors. The latest version can go the other way again, and capture an actor so it can be re-lit digitally. Not an ordinary 3d scan, rather a so called lightfield: a true photographic capture that also stores all possible lighting influences.
But the big news is that this crazy high-end device was now seen on the general show floor. You can buy/rent it under the label Aguru Dome from Aguru Images.

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Virtual Reality


Speaking of strange devices: VR technology and immersive imaging have been out for a long time now, you could almost call them relicts of the last century.
Original voice from underneath the helmet: "OK, where does it turn off now?"

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Panoramic Video


The new trend is rapid panorama capturing. This neat little device, called the Ladybug captures 6 images and stitches them into a smooth 30fps video in realtime. Resolution is somewhat limited with 1024x512 pixels, but still fine for reflection maps or small web presentations.

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Drive-by Pano Shoots


More by accident I stumbled across this car, with two crazy japanese panorama cartographers inside. The turret on top looks like the big bully brother of the ladybug, and you can surely guess what it's for. Panoramic city tours!
If you dig the new Google Maps Street View, then you will love to hear that the folks from @city are for hire, and will do a similar kind of interactive panorama tour for your neighborhood.

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Crashing the Newtek Booth


I was sent to represent EdenFX, one of the finest visual effects company in the world. My employer. We use a hell lot of LightWave at work, and our buddies at Newtek love to show off our stuff. And we love have some prime time at their giant booth, so that is truly a mutual relationship. But what they didn't know, is that I took the chance to hijack the stage and introduced Smart IBL.
This was officially the first live sIBL demonstration in front of a larger audience, and it was perceived with a lot of Ahhs and Ohhs. But it also made it pretty clear, that many CG artists still have a lot of open questions about HDRI. "How did you capture these?", "Why is a high-res HDRI not good for lighting?", "And you're really giving Smart IBL away for free? I mean, free???"
So it felt just like the right timing to announce the HDRI Handbook, where all these questions are met. Oh, and by the way - I also premiered my new LightWave plugin called LightBitch - for sure you'll hear more about this one soon.

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So, that was it - my quick little subjective report from Siggraph 2007 in San Diego.
Next year will be in LA, and it will be even more exiting. I promise.

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