Summing up the summer

Posted: Kathleen Maher 08.25.18

This collection of stories doesn’t come close to saying all we have to say about Siggraph, not by a long shot. But honestly, we had to put something on the cover, and a picture of the Vancouver convention center is as good as anything.

VR, AR, MR etc. continue to pull too much attention away from some of the real advances we’re seeing, so it seems many of those stories bubble up to the top.

As I did through work we’ve done and the work we have yet to do, I have realized how easy it can be to miss the point. Nothing is about the technology, but what we do with it. For instance, volumetric imaging doesn’t mean as much as MRIs. At Siggraph 2018, Intel showed off its approach for volumetric modeling, bypassing tedious modeling approaches and enabling interesting applications such as people capture and modeling. Likewise, Cubic Motion has been pushing its work in animating 3D faces for realistic interactions VR and believes there is a potential market for streaming 3D performance. Ultimately, VR may not matter so much, but the technology developed to enable it including 3D capture, volumetric modeling, streaming mo-cap, may well spawn new industries.

It’s obvious, but we all have to remember, people are often building tools they have no idea what they’re really going to be used for. The real message of the hype cycle is this: getting it wrong is the first part of getting it right and with XR, there is still so much to get wrong and even more that has yet to be developed.

Last March, Ansys acquired French visualization company Optis in March and they brought the company to Siggraph to demonstrate their development around visual prototyping. (Source: JPR)

With XR (VR/AR/MR=XR, god help us) the first steps to differentiation and segmentation have been taken and for that reason alone Siggraph 2018 was a significant conference on the XR front.

Siggraph is the heart of the graphics industry.

Conferences such as GDC, E3, NAB, and all the focused company shows like PTC’s LiveWorx, Autodesk University, Nvidia’s GTC are showcases for the graphics marketplace, but Siggraph is where new ideas in graphics technology are born and where people get their hands-on new tools and play around with them.

To be honest, at the conference and immediately after, what we write about first is the obvious stuff: the press announcements, the keynotes, etc. Sometimes the real messages from a conference come out later.

This year the inevitable battle of announcements from AMD and Nvidia captured plenty of attention, with Nvidia winning the PR war this round with its claim that the combination of AI and GPU power will put GPUs in charge of final renders for movies. But AMD made points with its new Threadripper announcement and its slow and steady play to regain the workstation market. There’s a new generation of workstations based on Intel’s Coffee Lake, and at Siggraph attendees were invited to kick the tires.

Coming later, though, we’ll be able to talk about how GPUs are enabling Ansys to provide real-time analysis in-line with CAD. How simultaneous renders can better inform design and the entire pipeline of content creation, and how AI will eliminate meaningful employment for each and every one of us. What exactly is Autodesk doing these days? Where the Foundry is going. Why is it when you’re living in the fast lane, you’re always behind.