3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 73: Notes From SIGGRAPH 99
Lesson 73 - Notes From SIGGRAPH 99 - Part 1
I just got back from the SIGGRAPH conference and exhibition in Los Angeles.
For those of you don't know, the annual SIGGRAPH conference is the big annual get-together in the 3D computer graphics world. Styled the"26th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques," SIGGRAPH 99 is basically a two-headed beast. On the one hand, it's a the big marketing event in the computer graphics industry, with splashy exhibit booths and wall-to-wall hype. On the other hand, it is a scholarly and professional meeting of the minds in computer graphics, offering courses in an astoundingly broad range of specialized topics from "Modeling Techniques for Medical Applications" to "Developing Shared Virtual Environments." The name SIGGRAPH stands for "Special Interest GroupÂGraphics" and the organization is composed of local groups that meet on a regular basis. Local SIGGRAPH meetings are generally much more oriented to the interests of the programmer or computer scientist than to the artist or animator, but the national SIGGRAPH conference is different. It is the annual industry "event" where old-timers can renew acquaintances and the aspiring newcomer can try to make contacts or find an employer.
SIGGRAPH has grown into such a monster that it's impossible to assimilate the whole thing, even after a few days on the floor. I suppose that everyone who attended the conference came away with a different take, depending on what they saw and who they were able to talk to. The press of the crowd at the L.A. Convention Center was so great that it was often very difficult to get close enough to a popular exhibit to see it, and it was even harder to ask questions. But I did come away with some significant impressions of where the 3D graphics world is headed over the next year.
First, I've got to tell you about the product that most impressed me at the show. When I first entered the exhibition hall, I passed a booth in which 3D Studio MAX 3 was being used in a demonstration of some kind. I looked at the screen and was amazed by brightness and clarity of the display, which was of a completely different order than I had ever seen. When I learned what kind of monitor it was, I ran over to the SGI booth to learn more. At the booth, I saw this monitor being used to display high-resolution color images, and I was stunned. The display was absolutely photo-realistic, and looked like a page out of the National Geographic.The Silicon Graphics 1600SW Flat Panel Monitor runs about $2,700 (slightly less if for use with an SGI workstation). The resolution is 1600 x 1024 pixels at an amazing 110 dots (pixels) per inch! The brochure says that it has 3 times the brightness and five times the contrast of regular CRTs, and I have no doubt that this is true. And it's a flat panel, only 7 inches in depth. I'm sure that this technology will become the new standard in the future, but those who can afford it should think about buying one of these babies now. I can't imagine anything that would make a greater difference in the life of a 3D practitioner than a crystal-clear image on a flat screen. This was one sexy product. SGI is going through another major crisis, laying off tons of people and selling off their whole Windows NT hardware division (any takers out there?), but this monitor is going to stick. I guarantee it. For more information, visit www.sgi.com/go/flatpanel.
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Created: August 17, 1999
Revised: August 17, 1999