Conference offers animation fest, 3-D tech

As it prepares to return to Los Angeles for 2008, the Siggraph computer graphics conference and tradeshow unveiled its most Hollywood-friendly program and schedule ever, including greater access to its animation fest, 3-D technology and a tribute to the late Stan Winston.

Siggraph organizers held a media sneak peek at Sony Pictures Imageworks on Tuesday, showing some of the films in the Computer Animation Festival and outlining the highlights of the confab, which is skedded for Aug. 11-15 at the L.A. Convention Center.

This year, for the first time, the public will be able to purchase passes for the Computer Animation Festival, including pics in and out of competition. Day passes are $50.

The fest will use three venues, including the Nokia Theater.

Day-pass holders also get access to many of the conference’s major events, speakers and panels, which will include two days of seminars on 3-D curated by Imageworks’ Rob Engle.

For the first time, three major studios are hosting evening events. Imageworks is using its Wednesday night slot on Aug. 13 to host the tribute to Winston, the special effects master who died last week.

SPI abandoned its earlier plans for the evening upon Winston’s death, and is organizing the tribute with the full cooperation of Winston’s studio.

Lucasfilm will use its Thursday evening slot to screen the animated “Star Wars: Clone Wars” movie the night before it opens in theaters.

Pixar Animation Studios will use Tuesday evening to host a conversation between Pixar’s John Lasseter and legendary Canadian animator Frederic Back, followed by a screening of doc “The Pixar Story.”

Among the other changes and highlights of this year’s conference:

  • Featured speeches by Pixar’s Ed Catmull, “U23D” helmer Catherine Owens and robotics expert Takeo Kanade;

  • Greater integration of the tradeshow with new technology exhibits and computer art galleries; and

  • A new Monday-Friday schedule instead of the Sunday-Thursday sked of prior years.

Siggraph is the leading academic conference and tradeshow for the computer graphics community and a major recruiting opportunity for animation studios, gamemakers and visual effects shops. It draws some 30,000 computer graphics pros and students.

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