CyberEdge Journal

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

SIGGRAPH 2004 - Day 3

SIGGRAPH, Tuesday, night three, Los Angeles – The conference exhibit opened today, and the crowds must have been a big relief to the SIGGRAPH committee. Talk yesterday was that there didn’t seem to be many people around. However, this is typical for Mondays at SIGGRAPH, as the people who are there are there for the tutorials and other presentations. That means they are in the meeting rooms, and out of sight. Today, they were around, and the exhibit hall was crowded all day. Here’s a picture of the hall that gives you an idea of the crowds.

My first appointment of the day was with Oregon 3D (O3D) president Aaron Boonshoft, (Disclosure: I have worked with Oregon 3D in the past.) O3D is a training and visualization facility in Portland Oregon. Aaron told me that O3D will begin offering an Urban Planning Simulation curricula this fall. This is possibly the first private training organization to offer this increasingly important option. Simulation is being used in Urban Planning as both a conventional planning tool, and also as part of security preparations. I think this course offering marks an important step in vocational education.

An interesting note on how the pecking order at SIGGRAPH changes: this year the two biggest booths on the floor are those of Apple Computer and Alias. SGI has a barely larger than average exhibit, a sad commentary on the changes that have left many of the leading graphics companies of a few years ago sitting in the dust. And by the way, in place of the SGI iron that used to dominate the floor at SIGGRAPH, one is seeing Apple systems all over the place. I guess their switch the UNIX-based OS X has paid of in the graphics community.

Speaking of Apple’s computers, I went to an introductory presentation tonight by a company named Luxology LLC, based in San Mateo, California. They showed an impressive new 3D modeling program called modo, that was incredibly fast, running on dual-processor G5s. Modo was designed, they told us, after extensive consultation with 3D modelers using a variety of programs. The team that put modo together is comprised of Lightwave graduates, and seemed to be aiming directly at the Maya market, as modo exports in Maya format. I’m not a 3D modeler, but I have seen plenty of demos, and I can assure you that this program is fast, and it looks like its functionality is high and ease of use exceptional. Modo is due out this fall in Mac and Windows versions, and priced at $895, has the potential to be a winner in the heavily fragmented 3D modeling marketplace.

Two thoughts on displays at SIGGRAPH. First, this seems to be the year of autostereoscopic displays (ASDs). The Web3D Consortium has a half a dozen LCD-based ASDs from different manufacturers in their booth; Actuality Systems and Lightspace are showing their volumetric displays; and Kodak is showing their mirror-based system. (Disclosure: Kodak is a current client of mine.) This year’s CyberEdge report on the VizSim/VR Market showed that 7.6% of our respondents bought or sold ASDs, and I think they are starting to become a significant part of the display market.

Finally, I saw a very interesting multi-LCD display system from Seamless Display. They assemble three (or almost any number) of thin-bezel LCDs behind a proprietary lens set that spans all of the monitors. The lenses hide the bezels and make the display look like one large monitor. This is a fairly simple concept, but it looks great. Here’s a picture.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, I continue to prowl the exhibits, and see the Electronic Theater program. I’ll let you know what I find.


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