Image credit: “The Book of Life” courtesy of Reel FX Creative Studios
SIGGRAPH 2016 Production Sessions Chair Mikki Rose took a stroll down memory lane with former Production Session Chairs Roy Anthony, Jerome Solomon and future Chair Emily Hsu. They discussed some of their favorite sessions from years past and came up with this list of the top reasons why the Production Sessions at SIGGRAPH are not to be missed!
1. THE PEOPLE
Huge crowds gather for the Production Sessions at SIGGRAPH. One reason, of course, is that there’s a chance to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creative process that goes into some of the biggest recent and upcoming blockbuster films. But there’s also a chance to speak artist-to-artist in Q&A sessions and geek out with your friends and colleagues.
- Mikki Rose: Making “The Dam Keeper”: How Two First-Time Directors Brought Paint to Life in Their Animated Short Film (2014)
Hearing Robert and Dice’s story of the making of this short was super inspiring! They went through so much because they believed in this project and it turned out to be fabulous!
- Jerome Solomon: “Transformers”: Giant Frickin’ Robots (2007)
Way, way back in 2007, Industrial Light and Magic did the first “Transformers” film and we had to scramble to pull together two overflow rooms. Some crazy SIGGRAPH folks beat me to the room at 6:30am to get in line, even though the session didn’t start until 10am. I just let them in early and told them they could pick whatever seat they wanted. Good times!
- Mikki: Rhythm & Hues Studios: 25 Years of Art, Technology, and People (2012)
This celebration of the great company that R&H was (still is, but in a much smaller format) came right when they were finishing work on “Life of Pi,” their most recent Academy win for Best Visual Effects, and also when the company was falling into a desperate financial situation. So many of us have worked at Rhythm at some point in our careers that it really pulled at the heartstrings to see the great work this company had created and realize how fragile this industry makes us.
- Roy Anthony: Twentieth Century Fox Presents the Visual Effects of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014)
We packed the house to the rafters and the Q&A at the end as moderated by Mike of FXGuide was awesome!
- Emily: LAIKA’s Puppets, Printing, and Compositing: A Unique Collaboration in LAIKA’s Animated Features (2014)
LAIKA brought in puppets to show off! We even had an incredibly gung-ho SV team dressed up in impromptu Boxtroll outfits walking around the convention center to promote the session!
- Mikki: The Art and Science Behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Paperman” (2012)
At the time I was the Student Volunteer Program Chair, so I was pretty busy and only had a few minutes to peek in on this one, but I immediately fell in love with the short. One of my Team Leaders noticed that I had to leave the session early, so he made sure to get me one of the booklets that were given out later in the presentation. The directors were even signing them!
2. THE INDUSTRY ICONS
The best and brightest visionaries in the industry are on hand during SIGGRAPH Production Sessions. Whether you’re looking for technical tips, a deeper understanding of the business, pure inspiration, or a glimpse of the vision behind some of the most amazing cutting-edge projects, Production Session takeaways resonate for years to come.
- Emily: Meet Your New Production R&D Department (2014)
Paul Debevec’s session from Vancouver. Did I mention Paul Debevec?
- Jerome and Roy: High Frame Rate Cinema, Impacts on Art and Technology with Douglas Trumbull and Dennis Muren: Moderated by Christie (2012)
High Frame Rate panel with Jon Landau, Dennis Muren, Doug Trumbull, Lincoln Wallen and a few other superstars of film
- Mikki: SIGGRAPH Special Event: ILM 40th Anniversary Presentation (2015)
Dennis Muren and lots of fantastic ILM history covering everything from Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, loads of Star Wars, Star Trek, and on and on. A true nerd’s fantasy session!
3. ASKING THE QUESTION “HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!”
Cutting-edge innovations in computer graphics, animation and visual effects get displayed and dissected during SIGGRAPH Production Sessions. And the only thing cooler than special effects is knowing how they were created.
- Roy: Making “Gravity” at Framestore (2014)
Mind blowing virtual stage greatness!
- Jerome: LAIKA’s “ParaNorman”: The Fusion of Stop-Motion and CG in a Zombie-Ridden World (2012)
- Roy: Great Failed Ideas in Production (2008)
This was a crazy super session of multi-studio awesomeness!
- Roy: Making “Avatar” (2010)
4. THE PROPS, COSTUMES AND SWAG
Technical knowledge and inspiration aren’t the only takeaways from the Production Sessions at SIGGRAPH. Studios often bring props and costumes from the project for an up-close look at the detail and artistry that is involved in the making of visual effects magic. And there are frequently goodies on hand, giveaways and time for autographs,
- Jerome: Digital Domain Presents “Making the Steel Real: Moving VFX into Production” (2012)
In particular I loved when the 10 foot tall robot barely made it in the room. The doors were not tall enough to get him in, so the guys had to take the robot’s head off, and put it back on! It was like paparazzi when people came in the room and were allowed to take pictures of the robot. What a hoot!
- Mikki: “The Peanuts Movie” From Comic Strip to Feature Film (2015)
Watching my Blue Sky team share information about one of the projects I personally worked on was a highlight for me, and people LOVED the Charlie Brown hats they gave away for asking questions!
- Emily: The Making of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)
Marvel always brings costumes and props to show the audience in person at their sessions. People love to see them up close and personal!
- Mikki: From Post-it to Production, the Uncompromising Journey of “The Book of Life” (2015)
Director Jorge Gutierrez stayed behind afterward and did awesome sketches for attendees!
- Roy: The Visual Effects of Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” (2013)
Pure gold. We love seeing the costumes and props!
- Jerome: The Art and Science Behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Paperman” (2012)
The director signed attendees’ books that Disney brought for us. Just cool.
Be sure to be part of the Production Sessions at SIGGRAPH 2016, 24-28 July in Anaheim, CA! Chair Mikki Rose previews what you can expect:
Do you have a favorite Production Session from past SIGGRAPH Conferences? Share your memory with us in the comments section below!