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Design and Technology at Siggraph 2007

Mon, 01 Oct 2007 00:00:00 -0700

From 5-9 August, over 24000 artists, designers, research scientists, developers, filmmakers, and academics gathered in San Diego, California, for the 34th Siggraph Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. The Siggraph conference and exhibition ranges from several days of highly technical courses and academic paper presentations, through to hands-on demos of new technologies, an art gallery, computer animation festival, and the two-day exhibition by software and hardware vendors.

Siggraph straddles the scientific, engineering and the artistic aspects of computer graphics and interaction, with film-makers showing how they made "Giant Frickin' Robots" for the upcoming Transformers movie, while the Papers presentations and Courses deal with the latest research, software evolution and hardware systems that make it all possible.

Several automotive software and hardware suppliers announced new products at the show, while the Emerging Technologies and Technical Programs showed new technologies that designers will be utilising in product and automotive design in the near future.

One of the hot topics this year was real-time raytracing, allowing interaction with a digital model on the screen with exceptionally high detail and realistic reflections.

RTT showed DeltaGen RealTrace, a true real-time raytracer, part of DeltaGen 7.0. With RealTrace environments can be reflected into the car in real-time. The demo on the nVidia booth at Siggraph was made on an HP xw9300 workstation with a nVidia FX5600 graphic card. RTT stressed that their system, being GPU based, requires only an adequate graphics card, reducing the hardware requirements in comparison to CPU-intensive rendering systems.

The other RTT announcement, DeltaGen RealLight2, is a new and improved ambient occlusion module which is now mesh independent. This means surfaces no longer need to be highly tessellated in order to obtain a smooth light and shadow gradation. Where previously the user would have to wait for offline renderings, these can now be generated in real-time.

RTT also showed a preview of an update to the RealView module, with a demo showing a digital wheel model superimposed on live video of a real wheel/tyre, with the digital and real models moving in unison, using tracking points on the wheel to blend the real and virtual images on screen. Applications could include superimposing digital vehicle models with a live video presentation of full-size physical models.

Bunkspeed unveiled it's Hyperdrive and Hypershot visualization and rendering applications, with interactive ray-tracing delivering accurate replications of physical prototypes. Materials, lighting and paint finishes can be applied by drag and drop, including a new DuPont paint library. A driving simulation tool that has been one of the unique aspects of the Bunkspeed products can record scenes from five different camera views with photographic quality. Speed, horsepower, ride height and suspension are all controllable. A new 'smokewand' feature allows simulation of airflow to allow designers and engineers to review aerodynamics and turbulence.

Autodesk's presence at Siggraph was focussed largely on the entertainment products such as Maya. AliasStudio 2008 was released earlier this year, and in August Autodesk announced their aquisition of Opticore AB. Opticore's products offer high-end visualization capabilities, real-time raytracing along with diverse environments and materials. Autodesk will continue to offer both Showcase and Opticore solutions to satisfy the needs of a designer or modeler through to the high-end requirements of a visualization specialist.

Barco showed ultra-high-definition displays with 8MP resolution, as well as the Galaxy NH-12 projection wall system that can display combinations of mono and 3D sources in multiple windows simultaneously on a large canvas at 1080p HD resolution.

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By Brett Patterson