SIGGRAPH is back in Vancouver for the second time, along with 16,000 attendees
Vancouver’s biggest-ever conference, SIGGRAPH 2014, opened its exhibition floor at the Vancouver Convention Centre Tuesday, inviting international animation heavyweights, like Pixar and Warcraft-maker Blizzard Entertainment, alongside local lightweights looking to show off and schmooze.
While 3D animation was the name of the game as usual—SIGGRAPH stands for Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques—this year’s event, which also came to Vancouver in 2011, had more to show off than a sea of monitors. Almost as prevalent were 3D printers and virtual-reality headsets. In fact, if SIGGRAPH's 41st annual conference is anything to go by, Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR earlier this year may have been a smart play; Oculus was everywhere.
Consider how SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), a Berlin-based company, is using the virtual-reality headset. SMI, which specializes in eye-tracking technology, modified one of Oculus’s headsets so that when you look at animated characters through the goggles, they match your gaze—sort of like how people do in real life. Also, you can blow things up by looking at them (I tried it; it was cool).
“Vancouver is a fantastic city,” said Walter Nistico, manager of research and development at SMI. Among its 50-plus employees, SMI sent a total of three to this year’s SIGGRAPH. Nistico’s only complaint was that he couldn’t stay long.
That's not the case for Relic Entertainment, however, a video game company that’s been a staple in Vancouver’s scene since its inception in 1997. Relic, now owned by Sega, is perhaps best known for its Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War franchise of strategy video games. Marc Belanger, one of the company’s HR specialists, says SIGGRAPH is great for “building pipelines.” Often, hiring is done at the 11th hour, he said at a recruitment booth, and thus the conference is a chance for Relic to build its roster of resumés for when they need a handful of new hires.
And certainly, there was no lack of talent at SIGGRAPH. Roughly 16,000 people are expected to drop by over the course of the event, which runs until Thursday, from over 60 countries. What’s more, the conference is expected to generate $39 million in local spending.
For a glimpse of this year's SIGGRAPH—and its undeniably cool offerings—click through the gallery above.