Animations that dazzle: Siggraph Electronic Theater award winners

Best in Show award goes to a student project.

Karen Moltenbrey

One of the main highlights of Siggraph is the Electronic Theater, which features an array of animation projects, from feature and short films to game cinematics, advertisements, visual effects, scientific visualizations, and more. However, only the best and most innovative projects from among the many submissions worldwide are selected for inclusion in the Electronic Theater by a jury.

Moreover, because of the high quality of the selections, the Siggraph Electronic Theater is an Academy Award qualifying festival.

From “La Diplomatie de L'éclipse.” (Source: La Diplomatie de L'éclipse © MoPA)
From “La Diplomatie de L’éclipse.” (Source: La Diplomatie de L’éclipse © MoPA)

Recently, Siggraph named the winners of the jury awards from the 2023 Electronic Theater, those deemed the best of the best. Named Best in Show is “La Diplomatie de L’éclipse,” which is a student piece from César Luton, Achille Pasquier, Selim Lallaoui, Clémence Bailly, and Axel Mechin at MoPA–L’École de la 3D. According to a message sent by the sun and the moon, at the moment of alignment, of a total eclipse, humanity will vanish. To prevent this from happening, the World Council sends its best negotiator to avert this tragedy. This film was made with Blender, among other software.

In an unusual situation, two projects tied for the Jury’s Choice award: “The Voice in the Hollow” and “Overwatch: Kiriko.” An animated fantasy/horror short film, “The Voice in the Hollow” is directed by Miguel Ortega and produced by Half MT Studios. Based on an African fable of sisterhood, envy, and ancient evil, it follows two sisters who are trying to prove themselves—until one of them hears a voice in the hollow. The short was rendered in Unreal Engine 5. “Overwatch: Kiriko,” meanwhile, is a short by Jeremiah Johnson and Dave Stephens, both of Blizzard Entertainment, and based on the video game Overwatch 2. The piece depicts the two sides of the character Kiriko: the loving daughter and the deadly protector. According to Siggraph, the project combines cutting-edge animation techniques and immersive storytelling to bring the beloved Overwatch universe to life in a way that has never been seen before.

And the Best Student Project award goes to “Swing to the Moon.” This animated short is from Marie Bordessoule, Adriana Bouissie, Nadine De Boer, Elisa Drique, Chloé Lauzu, Vincent Levrero, and Solenne Moreau of école supérieure des métiers artistiques (ESMA). The story is set deep in the forest, as the wide-eyed spider Temi dreams of catching the moon. For that, she will do anything. This graduation project was created during the students’ last year at ESMA in Toulouse, France.

The Audience Choice award will be announced during the Monday Electronic Theater show.

As usual, prior to the start of the Electronic Theater show, the audience will be treated to a preshow. This year, that will comprise an interactive flight through the universe, as the audience can determine where they want to visit in space by leaning their bodies left or right to explore exoplanets or to fly out of the Milky Way galaxy, respectively. The audience interaction will be accomplished via computer vision with Derivative’s TouchDesigner software for building interactive 2D and 3D applications. The scientific visualization will be achieved with OpenSpace for the real-time graphics. OpenSpace is open-source interactive data visualization software, funded in part by NASA, designed to show the entire known universe. 

In addition to the usual Electronic Theater shows, there will be a special showing of the Electronic Theater Retrospective Celebration, exclusive for the 50th anniversary of Siggraph. The special reel will feature seminal Electronic Theater pieces from Siggraph history. In addition, there will be a live panel discussion as computer graphics pioneers react to and share their memories of the pieces being shown. The panel will be moderated by Doug Roble, who will be joined by panelists Alvy Ray Smith, Dennis Muren, Paul Debevec, Donna Cox, and Carolina Cruz-Neira.

This is a unique Siggraph experience that provides an opportunity to reminisce on pivotal stories from our history, while hearing live commentary from industry legends. There will be clips from over 100 works spanning the past 50 years of Siggraph in the reel.