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SIGGRAPH 2018 Spotlights Women in CG

Women at SIGGRAPH [Photo by John Fujii © 2017 ACM SIGGRAPH]
Women at SIGGRAPH [Photo by John Fujii © 2017 ACM SIGGRAPH]

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SIGGRAPH 2018 Spotlights Women in CG

At the 45th SIGGRAPH conference (Aug. 12-16; Vancouver, BC), a spotlight will be shone on the numerous women from across all specialties of computer graphics and interactive techniques. These include panelists discussing the VFX innovations of the latest blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War, the fascinating details of animated hits like Incredibles 2, game-changing technological breakthroughs and the ever expanding storytelling applications of computer-powered media.

“In this day and age, as the voices of women continue to be elevated to new heights and their contributions to all forms of business, art, technology and beyond are more important than ever, we are beyond thrilled to be able to add to that conversation and shine a light on the amazing work that women do for our industry,” said SIGGRAPH 2018 Conference Chair Roy C. Anthony. “Among our presenter ranks are women who play a huge role in their respective fields and deserve every ounce of praise they receive. Furthermore, seven of our 2018 committee chairs, as well as our 2019 and 2020 conference chairs — Mikki Rose and Kristy Pron — are also women. … Our theme this year is ‘Generations,’ and so many of the fantastic women who will participate in Vancouver are literally standing at the forefront of the ‘next generation’ of advancements across every area of this industry.”

Some of the women featuring in this year’s program are:

  • Jen Underdahl, VFX Producer, Marvel Studios (panelist, “The Making of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War” Production Session)
  • Isabelle Langlois, Vice President of Production, Rodeo FX (panelist, “Game of Thrones Season 7: Orchestrating Sea Battles and Blowing Up a Big Wall” Production Session)
  • Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO, Native Americans in Philanthropy (voice of “Luna” in the Immersive Pavilion’s Crow: The Legend and panelist, “Crow: The Legend – Bringing a Native American Legend into VR” Production Session)
  • Fran Kalal, Character Tailoring Lead, Pixar Animation Studios (panelist, “Incredibles 2: Suit Up, It Might Get Weird!” Production Session)
  • Monika Fleischmann, pioneering German research artist, digital media scientist, and curator of new media art (recipient, 2018 ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art)
  • Haru Hyunkyung Ji, Assistant Professor, OCAD University (researcher, “Inhabitat: An Imaginary Ecosystem in a Children’s Science Museum”; presenter, “Technical Papers Fast Forward” and “Art Papers Session #1”; and, 2018 Art Papers juror)
  • Özge Samanci, Professor, Northwestern University (creator, You Are the Ocean in the Art Gallery)
  • Skawennati, Co-director, Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (creator, She Falls for Ages in the Art Gallery)
  • Amy Fredeen, CFO, E-Line, and EVP and CFO, Cook Inlet Tribal Council (creator, Never Alone: The Art and the People of the Story in the Art Gallery)
  • Nicole L’Huillier, Ph.D. Student and Research Assistant, MIT Media Lab – Media Arts & Sciences (creator, Diastrophisms in the Art Gallery)
  • Ruth West, Associate Professor, College of Visual Arts and Design, University of North Texas (creator, INSTRUMENT | One Antarctic Night in the Art Gallery)
  • Victoria Szabo, Associate Professor of Visual & Media Studies, Duke University, and ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community Chair (curator, “Origins + Journeys” in the Art Gallery)
  • Qiyang Hu, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Bern (researcher, “FaceShop: Deep Sketch-Based Face Image Editing” and presenter, “Sketching” Technical Papers session)
  • Jessica Hodgins, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, and current ACM SIGGRAPH President (researcher, “Automatic Machine Knitting of 3D Meshes” and “Learning Basketball Dribbling Skills Using Trajectory Optimization and Deep Reinforcement Learning,” and presenter, “Textiles & Microstructures” and “Animation Control” Technical Papers sessions)
  • Yibing Jiang, Technical Art Supervisor, Unity Technologies (presenter, “Emotional Connections” Talk)
  • Kristen Lester, Story Artist, Pixar Animation Studios (presenter, “Production Junction” Talk)
  • Silvia Rasheva, Producer, Unity Technologies (presenter, “Real-Time Live!”)
  • Corinne Scrivens, Principle Artist, Polyarc (creator, Moss in the Immersive Pavilion – Vrcade)
  • Niniane Wang, Senior Director, Engineering, Niantic, Inc. (creator, “Multiplayer Augmented Reality: the Future is Social, presented by Niantic” in the Immersive Pavilion – Village and presenter, “Games in Multiple Realities” Experience Presentation)
  • Diana Hu, Lead, Augmented Reality Engineering, Niantic, Inc. (creator, “Multiplayer Augmented Reality: the Future is Social, presented by Niantic” in the Immersive Pavilion – Village and presenter, “Games in Multiple Realities” Experience Presentation)
  • Illya Szilak, independent scholar, writer, and new media artist (creator, Queerskins: A Love Story in the Immersive Pavilion – Village and presenter, “Stories in Virtual Reality – Part 2” Experience Presentation)

“It’s a fact that the fields of computer graphics and interactive techniques have been, and are still predominantly, dominated by men; however, SIGGRAPH as a conference has long striven to give a voice to the women who are part of these fields. This can be seen, for instance, in early editions of SIGGRAPH from 20 or 30 years ago, where conference leadership roles were held by female professionals. In more recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance and the need for including more and more women, as well as more minorities, both in the conference and in the fields themselves,” said ACM SIGGRAPH International Resources Committee Chair Diana Arellano.

“This has crystallized in events like the International Resources Committee’s annual ‘Women in CG’ session, various lunches and networking events for women organized by big companies like ILM, and even women mentoring initiatives, which are currently in their early stages. All of this is sure to have positive results as new role models emerge, new perspectives and ideas are brought to the table, and controversial topics are addressed and solved. This will lead to a more diverse field in which the final goal is to do great research and create amazing technology. My hope is that the implicit bias, represented in phrases like ‘women are’ or ‘women cannot do,’ eventually disappears, and that younger generations won’t have the need to fight for equal rights within this or any other industry.”

In addition to the many women speaking and participating in the SIGGRAPH conference, this month will see the first Women in Animation Vancouver Summit, presented in partnership with Spark CG Society and supported by Emily Carr University of Art & Design, on 11 August. The co-located event is free to attend and will feature panels, presentations, TED-style talks, and various discussions with leading speakers such as:

  • Prem Gill, CEO, Creative BC Anja Haman, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft
  • Sue Rowe, VFX Supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks
  • Nadine Blackburn, Head of Inclusion, Diversity, and Corporate Social Responsibility, Electronic Arts
  • Ann Marie Fleming, independent filmmaker, writer, and director
  • Michelle Grady, SVP of Production, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Executive Committee Member, WIA Vancouver
  • Michelle Eisenreich, Senior VFX Producer, DNEG
  • Sharon Taylor, COO, Animal Logic, and Executive Committee Member, WIA Vancouver

“We are excited to present the Women in Animation Vancouver Summit in conjunction with SIGGRAPH 2018. Organizations like WIA and SIGGRAPH bring together our deeply interconnected industries — from animation to games, VR/AR, and VFX — to look at what the inspiring possibilities are for the future. We know that by embracing diversity and inclusion, progress and innovation accelerates. These are core beliefs that WIA drives globally, and we know SIGGRAPH shares and supports these beliefs,” said Molly Mason-Boulé, Women in Animation (WIA) Chair of Interactive and of WIA Vancouver.

To register for the SIGGRAPH 2018 conference, visit s2018.SIGGRAPH.org.

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