Your Essential SIGGRAPH ’11 Tip Sheet

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There are probably hundreds of good reasons why you should check out this year’s SIGGRAPH Expo in Vancouver (Aug. 7-11), but we want to make sure you don’t miss out on some of the big highlights. So, here’s a little list that you can tear out of the mag and put in your pocket as you fight the crowds at the Convention Centre.

Green Lantern

Green Lantern

Meet the Wizards: Don’t worry if you skipped the madness of Comic-Con this year. There are plenty of cool production panels about the making of your favorite movies—from Thor, Green Lantern and Captain America to Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and The Smurfs. Catch all the leading vfx supervisors and CG artists chatting about the latest technological breakthroughs and how they made movie magic happen on the big screen this year.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Say Hi to George Lucas’ Best Buds: The gurus at Industrial Light & Magic let you in on a few of the secrets of their trade and how they met the vfx challenges of Cowboys & Aliens, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Chrysaora: WebGL Jellyfish simulation

Chrysaora: WebGL Jellyfish simulation

Get Real! This year’s Real-Time showcase promises to emphasize the difference between interactive visuals in videogames and sims and pre-rendered works. Each live presentation lasts under five minutes, but the overall experience is bound to stimulate the creative engines inside your head. Keep your eyes peeled for the Chrysaora: WebGL Jellyfish simulation and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 technology demo!

The Lion King

The Lion King

Dude, Jump on the 3-D Wave! This year’s computer animation line-up features a whole day of programming devoted to the latest innovations in stereoscopic 3-D technology. This special presentation, sponsored by RealD, offers an intro to the format by 3ality Digital as well as a sneak peek at the much-anticipated 3-D version of Disney’s The Lion King (which comes out in October).

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

The Future According to Cory: The confab’s keynote speaker this year is none other than Cory Doctorow, best-selling author of the novel Little Brother; contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times and Wired; and co-editor of one of our favorite blogs, Boing Boing. He pops up at SIGGRAPH on Monday, Aug. 8 at 11 a.m. to give us his unique take on modernism and what the future may hold for all of us shiny, happy, residents of Planet Earth. This is definitely not going to one of those tired, boring affairs that make us weep in our coffees early in the morning.

Tomer Eshed's Flamingo Pride

Tomer Eshed's Flamingo Pride

Class Acts: As usual, there are plenty of outstanding CG-animated projects directed by talented students from animation schools screening at the Electronic Theater. We are especially curious to check out Tomer Eshed’s Flamingo Pride (The Konrad Wolf Potsdam-Babelsberg Film and TV Univ.), which was the top prize-winner in the student category, and runners-up Sweater Dog by Ringling College of Art and Design student Gina Moffit and DreamGiver by Tyler Carter from Brigham Young University.

Pixar's La Luna

Pixar's La Luna

Yup, Pixar, Yet Again! No world-class CG animation event would be complete without a major panel or screening from the crazy geniuses at Pixar. This past spring, Enrico Casarosa’s wonderful new short La Luna dazzled audiences at Annecy. You can check out Casarosa’s beautiful film about a young boy who learns about his family’s unusual line of work after he joins his dad and grandpa on a boating expedition at the Computer Animation Festival, then learn about the director’s technique and sources of inspiration afterwards. It’s programs like this one that really make SIGGRAPH truly memorable each year.

Hubble 3D

Hubble 3D

Stars Aplenty: One of the greatest achievements of computer animation over the past couple of decades has been the way it has made it possible for all of us to experience space travel from the comfort of our living rooms or movie theaters. You can catch an excerpt from the IMAX feature Hubble 3D, which takes us straight into the Orion Nebula to witness the birth of stars and planets. Based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope and various other observatories, this amazing project is bound to whet your appetite for the complete experience. The late astronomer Carl Sagan would have loved this one.