SIGGRAPH 2015 – Observations and Wrap-up

Siggraph 2015

Well, SIGGRAPH 2015 is in the books and once again, it was a great time to celebrate the computer graphics industry’s top contributors, network with friends old and new, learn about new and exciting developments in the computer graphics industry, and show people what Intel is doing to move the industry forward.

This event recap captures some of the highlights from SIGGRAPH for those who unfortunately missed out on all the fun and learning this year. Plan early to attend next year!

Tech Sessions

Tech Sessions

I’ve always felt that the number one reason to attend SIGGRAPH is to learn, and the SIGGRAPH event team at Intel tried to do its part by helping people learn about cool things being done at Intel and with our collaborators. We offered six unique talks at SIGGRAPH, and all of them received stellar marks from the attendees. Sven Woop’s talk, “Embree Ray Tracing Kernels” was particularly well-received. Talks given in collaboration with our friends at Dreamworks were the most highly attended, and we give them a shout-out for doing a great job at SIGGRAPH.

We’ve posted the six Intel SIGGRAPH 2015 tech session presentations so that you can view them at your leisure or study them in more detail:

Booth and Demos

SIGGRAPH Booth and Demos

A big thanks to all who wandered by the Intel booth in the Exhibition Hall. We had a continuous stream of visitors throughout the three days of the exhibition, and it was great to meet and talk with so many of you. We featured nine demos ranging from Intel® Atom™ processor (codenamed CherryTrail)-based tablets to Intel® Xeon® processor-based servers, as well as a “walk up and play” island. As we have done for the past several years, we showed support for a new graphics API from the moment it was announced. This time it was OpenGL* ES 3.2 running several demos the same week as it was announced by the Khronos Group. We also showed some whizzy demos running on top of Vulkan*. Autodesk, Wacom, Impulsonic, USC ICT, Epic, and The MIX helped us show off the capabilities of Intel® graphics – a big thanks to those partners!

We showed a Photoshop* plugin that we are developing to raise the content creation industry’s awareness of Intel’s products. This plugin takes advantage of multiple cores to bring a previously unusable texture compression algorithm (BC7) into the realm of interactive usability. We were signing people up for the upcoming beta test (get information and sign up for the beta here).

We filmed short videos to bring all Intel’s SIGGRAPH demos to those of you who couldn’t make it to SIGGRAPH and published them on YouTube*.


We were fortunate to once again partner with our good friends at and offer some amazing video interviews live-streamed from the SIGGRAPH show floor. The lineup of interviews included leading graphics researchers (James O’Brien, UC Berkeley; Jernej Barbic and Ari Shapiro, USC; Dinesh Manocha, UNC; Kavita Bala, Cornell; and Doug James, Stanford), leading figures from SIGGRAPH (Marc Barr, 2015 Conference Chair; Mona Kasra, 2016 Conference Chair; and Kristy Pron, 2015 Emerging Technologies Chair), figures from the game developer segment (Mike Zyda, founder of the USC GamePipe Lab; Gavin Moran, Epic Games; and several indie developers from The MIX), key event and industry partners (Martin Watt, Dreamworks Animation; Eddie Perlberg and Chris Vienneau, Autodesk; Doug Little, Wacom; David Helmly, Adobe; and Dave Clayton Weta Digital, and seven of us from Intel. will be posting the interview videos starting at the end of August. We’ll be working with them to produce “highlight” versions of some of the best interviews too. Stay tuned to the Achievement Unlocked web page and to (If you need something to do while waiting, check out all of the interviews from GDC 2015.)

Waskul TV

Academic Reception

AWESOME was the best way to describe the Intel Academic Reception at SIGGRAPH 2015! We had a great time in a great venue (Lucky Strike Lanes in L.A. Live). For people doing advanced research in computer graphics, this was a perfect way to visit with a ton of industry colleagues and get caught up on what they are doing. (This is really one of the key reasons for attending an event like SIGGRAPH in person.) Attendees included world-renowned graphics researchers (Stanford, Princeton, UC Berkeley, CMU, Princeton, Cornell, MIT, USC, North Carolina, Victoria, BC, Toronto, London, Darmstadt, Saarland, TU Berlin, Max Planck, ETH Zurich, etc.), numerous SIGGRAPH achievement award winners, SIGGRAPH dignitaries (this year’s Papers Chair, next year’s Conference Chair), game developers (The MIX), and employees from key companies such as Weta Digital, Oculus, Disney Research, Adobe, Google, and Dreamworks, and of course many of the people from Intel involved in the computer graphics industry. There was also buzz about this party at SIGGRAPH, with people trying to secure invitations up until the day of the event. Humongous thanks to all who showed up!

SIGGRAPH Academic Reception

Technical Artist BoF

Intel organized the first-ever Birds-of-a-Feather for Technical Artists at SIGGRAPH. We would have been happy with half a dozen people showing up, but we counted approximately 50! The majority were TAs in the game industry. Billed as an informal networking event, this helps to fill a SIGGRAPH gap, as unlike GDC there has been no specific Tech-Artist BoF at SIGGRAPH. Example questions discussed were “what is a TA?”, “how do I know if I’m a TA?”, and “who’s hiring TAs?” The discussion was lively and many attendees expressed appreciation for setting this up. Thanks to all who showed up and contributed to the discussion, and please drop us a line to continue the conversation.

Technical Artist


Intel once again sponsored The MIX (previous sponsorships include E3 2014 & 2015, SIGGRAPH 2014 and GDC 2015). This year The MIX at SIGGRAPH had 13 studios represented. They had great traffic in their area in South Hall near the Emerging Technologies section. And they also helped us out by demonstrating some of their games on Intel® platforms in our booth. As always, we were blown away by the creativity and the enthusiasm of this group of game developers…fun stuff!



What I learned at SIGGRAPH

Let me close by giving you a few of my key learnings from SIGGRAPH this year:

  • EVERYONE is talking about VR! And many, many people are trying to move VR forward with new ideas, new research, and new products.
  • ILM has formed “ILM Xlab” – devoted to bringing new interactive experiences to people on tablets. One demo showed how you can re-direct the Star Wars scene of the Tatooine Outpost, choosing new camera angles, looking in different directions, etc. How cool is that!
  • Paul Debevec thinks we have crossed the Uncanny Valley a few times and "stuck the landing" – he and his team at USC ICT have created digital doubles indistinguishable from the real thing that have been used in some feature films. For example, in the movie Gravity, there is a scene showing Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in their space suits talking while orbiting Earth. NOTHING in this scene is physical – it is all digital – including the faces of Bullock and Clooney – so lifelike as to be indistinguishable from the real thing. Debevec and his team were also responsible for recently creating the first completely accurate digital facial model of a sitting president – President Obama – a very entertaining story! (And wouldn’t you think this would pose a security risk? Have you seen any episodes of Mission Impossible?)
  • Pixar has open-sourced USD – Universal Scene Description
  • SIGGRAPH is a great event that everyone should attend! (Actually, I learned this a long, long time ago!)
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