With a little more than a week to SIGGRAPH Asia 2015, we sat down with Conference Chair Yoshifumi Kitamura for some insights into the conference and his connection with the industry.
SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 (SA2015): As Conference Chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2015, could you please begin by telling us what the conference is about and why it exists?
Yoshifumi Kitamura (YK): SIGGRAPH continues to grow over the years – each edition has been better than the last, and both the conference and exhibition attract continue to attract a bigger following.
For SIGGRAPH Asia 2015, the committee has endeavored to showcase works that have not been screened elsewhere. There is more emphasis on original short films that have been produced specifically for the Computer Animation Festival. More importantly, audiences can look forward to the best works in animation and special effects from around the world.
While SIGGRAPH Asia continues to be an important platform to showcase Asian works to the world, it is also an opportunity for Asian professionals to be inspired by the best works that the world has to offer. For professionals in Japan especially, it is my hope that the array of works and technology showcased in SIGGRAPH Asia can further motivate creativity in this industry.
SA2015: How did you personally become involved and what interested you in computer graphics and visualization?
YK: Computer Graphics and Visualization are indispensable key technologies to many related fields. Interactive Technology, a field in which I have been working in for many years, is one of them. I have been engaged in SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia for many years, mainly involved in the Emerging Technologies or E-Tech program where my students and I demonstrated hands-on research on interactive techniques for almost 20 years.
Over the last couple of years I was serving the community as the SIGGRAPH Asia Director. I believe that the progress of Computer Graphics and Visualization, including neighboring fields, is important for further development of our research fields, which will also be good for the future improvement of humans’ lives as well.
SA2015: Is there a theme to this year’s event or a focus that you are attempting to highlight?
YK: This year’s edition of SIGGRAPH Asia is a combination of revolutionary and evolutionary – it is about the balance and harmony between disruptive innovation and the growth of creating new technologies.
SA2015: Could you tell us about the Symposiums that are going to be held during the event?
YK: We aim to discuss a wide variety of activities related to computer graphics and visualization, this year we introduce two completely new symposiums, on Education, and on Visualization in High Performance Computing. The Symposium on Education views education as a natural part of the lifelong learning process, and wishes to support the evolving integration of art and technology embraced by educators from both academia and the industry to share innovative research, methods and positions about the teaching and integration of computer graphics, visualizations, and interactive techniques in all areas of learning. The Symposium on Visualization in High Performance Computing aims to cover the development, technology, and demonstration of visualization techniques and their interactive applications.
SA2015: What are some of the challenges that computer graphics and visualization specialists face today? Are they challenged by computer processing capabilities, education, the Internet – or other factors?
YK: If we consider quality of life in our future society surrounded by technologies, human-computer interaction is one of the most important research themes. SIGGRAPH is called a conference of computer graphics and interactive techniques, I think the interactive techniques are still the most important challenges that SIGGRAPH is facing.
The programs of Emerging Technologies and Technical Papers have been a pair of driving wheels of SIGGRAPH for many years because it is a conference of computer graphics and interactive techniques. The E-tech has attracted many participants at the venue every year because it shows a high-level of practical engineering expertise, and even fine craftsmanship. This spirit is considered to be the key toward the technology development in next decade.
SA2015: Do you see differences in approaches between Asian audiences and other parts of the world when it comes to SIGGRAPH?
YK: No, I do not see any clear differences in approaches between Asian audiences and other parts of the world.
SA2015: Finally, could you tell us about some of the things we should be keeping our eyes upon at this event?
YK: SIGGRAPH is an exciting event with fascinating and diverse programs to showcase a variety of new technologies and art. A significantly wide range of people from a variety of fields and backgrounds typically participate in SIGGRAPH.
At this year’s edition of SIGGRAPH Asia, I have specially intended to focus on this diversity and introduce programs to promote or enhance interaction between individuals of different fields and backgrounds, who otherwise find it difficult to meet and work with each other.
For example, this year, we are organizing a ‘Pioneers’ Panel’, in which we have invited three pioneers from key technical fields that SIGGRAPH mainly covers. During this session, these speakers will reflect on their professional careers and provide gems of advice for aspiring researchers.
We have three very notable and renowned panelists:
- Steven Feiner (human-computer interaction and virtual/augmented reality)
- Takeo Kanade (computer vision and robotics)
- Tomoyuki Nishita (computer graphics)
Their advice will range from the expected (How to identify life-changing career opportunities? How to select great research questions?), to the unexpected (How to deal with the intricacies of academia, including organizational politics and malicious competitors?).
SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 will also have richest number of affiliated programs in the history of the conference, including two completely new programs – Symposium on Education and Symposium on Visualization in High Performance Computing.
There will be a variety of exciting and high quality content this year, including panel sessions and workshops conducted by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. Each day of the event will offer something exciting and engaging for all participants, with infinite opportunities to learn something different every day. We have also curated workshops and demonstrations on some of the exciting trends in the industry right now, including haptic media, robotics, mobile applications and augmented reality.
The team has been working tirelessly to organize SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 and we are all looking forward to hosting some of the world’s top academics and creative geniuses down to Kobe in November!
Yoshifumi Kitamura, Conference Chair
Yoshifumi Kitamura is the Conference Chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2015. He is a Professor at the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University. He received the B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD. degrees in Engineering from Osaka University in 1985, 1987 and 1996, respectively. Prior to Tohoku University, he was an Associate Professor at Graduate School of Engineering and Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Osaka University (1997-2010), and before that he was a researcher at ATR Communication Systems Research Laboratories (1992-1996) and Canon Inc. (1987-1992). His lab’s web page is at http://www.icd.riec.tohoku.ac.jp/index-e.html.