Saturday, October 4, 2008

Siggraph event on Procedural Animation

Last Sunday I attended a seminar in my city which was a part of the events being held as a part of Siggraph Asia. This was organized by CGTantra, Asifa India and some other companies and organisations related to the Computer Graphics Industry.

Actually this was a first time I attended any CG event. The topic for the talk was ‘procedural animation’ which is way different than key-frame animation that we as character animators do. Here the focus is more on how to get most out of the computer and using it to simulate particles, crowds among other special effects. The Lecture was a more casual one with the speaker Craig “Xray” halperin sharing his experience in the industry interleaved with some technical know how about the subject. There was a small demo of ‘Houdini’, a 3d software which provides this feature. It was a little technical, but he made sure that he kept it simple for anyone and everyone to understand. It was nice to get an insight into some things that are used to make the movies we love to watch on the Big Screen.

Craig has worked on some popular movies like Titanic, T2-3D,Armageddon, Hollow Man, Xmen 2 and a lot more. Recently he had worked on Kung Fu Panda at Dreamworks and now is at Image Movers Digital. Craig or Xray as he is called, told us his early days when he started at Digital Domain and got a foot in the door. He walked through his different stints in the industry and shared what he learned along the way. He kept the whole talk really light and interesting.

Normally we don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes and when we watch a movie don’t even realize that how all the magic was done. Making those crowd animations is so crazy. I had never thought that the crowd in the movie Titanic on the docks before the ship leaves might be computer generated.

After the seminar, I showed my recent progress reel to Chand, who is a co-founder of CGTantra. Then Craig too watched it and both of them gave some valuable critiques on my work. Incidentally when I mentioned that last term I was mentored by Joe, Craig was surprised, “Joe Mandia? I know him ! Tell him you met Xray”. Whoa! I was so shocked to meet someone who had worked with my mentor here in Pune.

Here is Craig’s post on his blog about the event: He also has a photo of the event and more from his recent visit to India and South-East Asian countries.

Overall this was a fun Seminar and I am looking forward to more such gatherings.

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