SIGGRAPH 96’S ELECTRONIC THEATER: A REVIEW

By Alan Beck, editor in chief

August 16, 1996

  New Orleans, La. --  Each year, a SIGGRAPH jury chooses a group of 
what it considers the finest computer-animated vignettes for concatenation
and showing during its convention. The latest selection consists of 46 clips,
ranging in character from pure art to crass commercialism. 

  All are excellent and truly represent the state-of-the-art. Yet,
personalities and tastes differ, so this reviewer apologizes in advance if
his remarks reflect a narrow, idiosyncratic bias and overlook much. The
incredible creativity and technical virtuosity brought to bear in each and
every offering were apparent to the entire audience throughout and are
necessarily taken for granted in the commentary that follows. 

  Although computer animation -- electronic theater -- is new, theater is a
venerable institution in Western culture. This is because for centuries its
practitioners have pursued one primary goal with loving, single-minded 
and often fanatical devotion: staging drama designed to move the human heart.

  Thus, although theater may contain pageantry, it is much more than mere
spectacle. Although it may embody energetic action, it is not sport. Although
it may teach or persuade, it is neither education nor argument. And while
theater may be preeminently entertaining, it transcends common diversion. 

  The elicitation of emotion is the soul of theater. As emotions may be
simple or complex, shallow or profound, fleeting or lasting, theatrical
presentations may be judged by the same measures. Electronic theater, despite
its utilization of extraordinary technologies, cannot escape application of
these ultimate criteria to its value, for such criteria lie now, as they
always have, at the living root of the discipline itself.

  These simple, challenging standards define the relative degrees of success 
achieved by different teams of animators engaged in the pursuit of effective
electronic theater. What a striking difference, for example, between the dry 
stereotypes of athletes presented by Jessica Hodgins in "Atlanta in Motion"
and the genuinely amusing stick figure in James J. Troy's "Dynamic Balance
and Walking Control of Planar Bipeds" -- despite the extremely spare graphic
treatment found in the latter.

  If similarly motivated pieces are compared, the same standards apply with
equal force. The pathetically venal animated Statue of Liberty in R/Greenberg
Associates' puerile "Oldsmobile Caught Their Eye" is cheerfully relegated to
a conceptual dustbin along with its advertising message, while the
hilariously and aggressively absurd star of "Citroen Saxo" by Industrial
Light & Magic is not readily dismissed -- or forgotten. 

  Perhaps no clearer example of this point could be made than by juxtaposing
typical viewer reaction to beautifully-conceived educational pieces like The
Palladian Group's "Fibonacci and the Golden Mean" and NCSA/Cosmic Voyage
Inc's "Cosmic Voyage: Galaxy Formation and Interaction" with the
eyeball-rolling dullness of "Computer Aided Cornea Modeling and 
Visualization" by UC Berkeley's Brian A. Barsky.

  While many of the art pieces communicated a sinister tone, they deserve
special kudos nonetheless, since they are fine illustrations of what
electronic theater can be: Yellow Co. Ltd.'s "The Play" might be considered
a demonic ode to dyspepsia, yet its power is undeniable. Nickson Fong Wei
Ming's "Dreamaker" is disturbing but still gorgeous. Far from being a
technical showcase, Dan Hower's "Crud: Descent 2" still creates a surreal
impression that reverberates through the psyche; the same holds true for
Rob Breyne's melodramatic "Stairwalker." Tippett Studio's "Three Wishes" is
a tremendous, truly scary tour de force.  

  For theater professionals, a sharp difference must always be made between 
effect and affect. Unless the former is firmly grounded in the service of the
latter rather than the other way around, drama dies -- and with it the
rationale for the whole wonderful enterprise.

  The final Electronic Theater choices, listed in the order in which they
were shown, are: Opening by Windlight Studios; Joe's Apartment -- Funky Towel
by Blue Sky Productions; Oldsmobile Caught Their Eye by R/Greenberg
Associates; Hallmark Magnet by Pixar; Three Wishes by Tippett Studio; Dutch
Nelson, Galaxy Guy by Ronin Animation; Chicken Crossing by Andrew Glassner,
Microsoft Research; Atlanta in Motion by Jessica Hodgins, Georgia Institute
of Technology; Dynamic Balance and Walking Control of Planar Bipeds by James
J. Troy, Iowa State University; The Fight by Acclaim Entertainment; MTV Music
Awards 95 Les Numeros de Cirque by Mikros Image; Cycles (shown in 4 staggered
excerpts) by Lisa Slates; Wet Waltz by Xaos; Stairwalker by Rob Breyne,
Hogeshool Gent-Kask; Compuserve Whale by Industrial Light & Magic; The Play
by Yellow Co.; Mercedes Rhino How-To by Digital Domain; Butterfly Sequence
from Columbia Pictures "The Craft" by Sony Pictures Imageworks; Cosmic
Voyage: Galaxy Formation and Interaction by NCSA, Cosmic Voyage; Homer^3: The
Simpsons 1995 Halloween Special by Pacific Data Images; Breath by Will Vinton
Studios; Citroen Saxo by Industrial Light & Magic; Plymouth Neon Popcorn by
Pacific Data Images; Aftershocks by Tippett Studio; Cites Anterieures-Brugge
(excerpt) by Mikros Image; Dreamaker by Nickson Fong Wei Ming, Savannah
College of Art and Design; Histoire De Crayon by Moira Marguin, All-ENSAD;
Hunchback of Notre Dame (excerpts) by Walt Disney Feature Animation; Shark
Attack Sequence from "James and the Giant Peach" by Sony Pictures Imageworks;
Waterworld 3D Tracking by Cinesite; Jumanji (excerpts) by Industrial Light &
Magic; Terminator 2 - 3D (excerpts) by Digital Domain; SIGGRAPH 96 Papers
Video Proceedings Excerpts by Jim Blinn, Microsoft Research; Watch Out by
Jonathan Wood, Ringling School of Art and Design; Naked Empire by Ned Greene,
Apple Computer; Computer Aided Cornea Modeling and Visualization by Brian A.
Barsky, University of California, Berkeley; Instant d'Apres by SUP Info Com;
Ma La Notte by RAI; Crud: Descent 2 by Dan Hower, Syracuse University;
Different Themes by Stuart Sharpe; Rolling Stones - Like a Rolling Stone by
BUF Compagnie; Fibonacci and the Golden Mean by The Palladian Group; Big
Bear: Paper Bag Bear by TOPIX Computer Graphics and Animation, Inc.;  Babe:
The Making of by Rhythm and Hues Studios; Twister (excerpts) by Industrial
Light & Magic; Dragonheart (excerpts) by Industrial Light & Magic.

------------------

  HPCwire welcomes reader suggestions and comments.


Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Russian Supercomputer Employed to Develop COVID-19 Treatment

March 31, 2020

From Summit to [email protected], global supercomputing is continuing to mobilize against the coronavirus pandemic by crunching massive problems like epidemiology, therapeutic development and vaccine development. The latest a Read more…

By Staff report

What’s New in HPC Research: Supersonic Jets, Skin Modeling, Astrophysics & More

March 31, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Pandemic ‘Wipes Out’ 2020 HPC Market Growth, Flat to 12% Drop Expected

March 31, 2020

As the world battles the still accelerating novel coronavirus, the HPC community has mounted a forceful response to the pandemic on many fronts. But these efforts won't inoculate the HPC industry from the economic effects of COVID-19. Market watcher Intersect360 Research has revised its 2020 forecast for HPC products and services, projecting... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

LLNL Leverages Supercomputing to Identify COVID-19 Antibody Candidates

March 30, 2020

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe to devastating effect, supercomputers around the world are spinning up to fight back by working on diagnosis, epidemiology, treatment and vaccine development. Now, Lawrence Livermore National Read more…

By Staff report

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the U.S. National Oceanic and At Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Amazon FSx for Lustre Update: Persistent Storage for Long-Term, High-Performance Workloads

Last year I wrote about Amazon FSx for Lustre and told you how our customers can use it to create pebibyte-scale, highly parallel POSIX-compliant file systems that serve thousands of simultaneous clients driving millions of IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) with sub-millisecond latency. Read more…

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be nearer to becoming a practical reality. In this second inst Read more…

By John Russell

Pandemic ‘Wipes Out’ 2020 HPC Market Growth, Flat to 12% Drop Expected

March 31, 2020

As the world battles the still accelerating novel coronavirus, the HPC community has mounted a forceful response to the pandemic on many fronts. But these efforts won't inoculate the HPC industry from the economic effects of COVID-19. Market watcher Intersect360 Research has revised its 2020 forecast for HPC products and services, projecting... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium- Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be Read more…

By John Russell

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Conversation: ANL’s Rick Stevens on DoE’s AI for Science Project

March 23, 2020

With release of the Department of Energy’s AI for Science report in late February, the effort to build a national AI program, modeled loosely on the U.S. Exascale Initiative, enters a new phase. Project leaders have already had early discussions with Congress... Read more…

By John Russell

Servers Headed to Junkyard Find 2nd Life Fighting Cancer in Clusters

March 20, 2020

Ottawa-based charitable organization Cancer Computer is on a mission to stamp out cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including coronavirus, by putting Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Kubernetes and HPC Applications in Hybrid Cloud Environments – Part II

March 19, 2020

With the rise of cloud services, CIOs are recognizing that applications, middleware, and infrastructure running in various compute environments need a common management and operating model. Maintaining different application and middleware stacks on-premises and in cloud environments, by possibly using different specialized infrastructure and application... Read more…

By Daniel Gruber,Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Offici Read more…

By Staff report

Summit Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

With the coronavirus sweeping the globe, tech conferences and supply chains are being hit hard – but now, tech is hitting back. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This