Spring 2011 News

July 8, 2011 5:33 pm Published by

SIGGRAPH Symposium to Debut this Year in Vancouver

Article by Patrick Coan

The SIGGRAPH Symposium provides an intriguing look at the global face of the business of computer graphics. Although only in its first year, a noteworthy lineup of presenters from across the spectrum of influence has already been announced.

The event, held over a single day, is divided into two sessions: the first focusing on the nuts and bolts of how the industry operates in a global landscape; the second, honing in on the culture of the business and how this culture affects the larger picture.

For the first session, the “business of the business,” the speakers and special guest participants were deliberately chosen for their ability to prompt and engage in open and thought-provoking dialogue on vital topics such as localization, culture driven content, global operations, finance, vision and strategy. For example, this segment of the Symposium will address operations in the global market.

As for the culture session, it provides a chance to ask and answer fundamental questions related to the culture of the business. Who are the magicians behind the curtain? How do they operate and what inspires their decisions? How does a company’s internal culture filter out into the rest of the world? Does the world shape the industry, or does the industry shape the world? How have we acclimated to meet the global demands of technically impressive visual entertainment that continues to inspire?

The SIGGRAPH Symposium is open to all registered attendees (register here) and provides a unique opportunity for open and honest conversation with others from all walks of life in the industry. In terms of format, a moderator will be present to keep the dialogue moving forward at the various sessions.

In order to gain a better understanding of the Symposium, I was fortunate to catch up with Jill Smolin, Chair of the event, long-time SIGGRAPH mover and shaker, and VFX educator. The visionary for the Symposium, she was kind enough to offer her insight into this year’s inaugural event.

Who does the Symposium concern, and what is the significance of this event?

SIGGRAPH is a community of creators. While our common thread is computer graphics, the manifestation of that thread is seen all over the world in almost every medium. So, really, the Symposium concerns everyone, and strives to involve those creators who have evolved into our leaders.

What was this event’s catalyst, what sparked it? Who said, “OK, we have a need for this”?

I was on the 2011 SIGGRAPH Committee and had a great conversation with the incredible Shannon Gans a business day idea. I had previously put together the Production Summit for the Visual Effects Society, so there was already precedent for such an event. So that’s where it started. Since then, it has evolved and developed into what it is today….which is still just the idea…we’ll see what it becomes on August 7!

Will the event give our audience a historical overview of where the industry has come from?

Not deliberately. It’s more about where we are now and where we’re going. Maybe someone will talk about where we’ve been, but I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.

Will the event address both large and small-scale production companies?

We have all kinds of people represented. Everyone has a really interesting history. Some are currently running multinational companies; some are running smaller companies; all are involved in the global picture of computer graphics.

Regarding regional, cultural and language differences: who does the symposium represent, and will methods of international cooperation be addressed?

I think during the second session, the culture of business, we’ll see just how big an impact the international picture has on the culture of these businesses…both on local and global levels.

The event description mentions “Frank and honest conversation”, might there be philosophy and tradition discussed, old vs. new?

It’s more about giving these very busy executives, who are generously offering their time and insights, the forum in which they can express their views as part of a conversation, and not as a presentation or an argument. This will be a bit of a state of the union…where we are and where we’re going…

The ancient Greek’s symposium was a drinking party for debate, plotting, boasting and revelry; will any of these things be occurring at the SIGGRAPH Symposium – and will there be any Greeks involved?

This is hilarious, and I certainly would welcome drinking, debate and plenty of revelry….not sure we’ll have conference togas though.


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