Why demomakers should contribute to SIGGRAPH


I love demos, always have. I'm currently earning my PhD in computer graphics, and it's all because of demos. In late October this year I put out a 'call to action' to the scene. I want to bring demos to more people -- people who just haven't heard of them yet, but the kind of people who I know will love demos.

My call to action is posted up at http://www.scheib.net/play/demos/siggraph/ (an abbreviated version is also included in this Hugi issue). It encourages people to contribute to Siggraph, a very large international computer graphics conference. I'm going to assume that you've read or glanced at it, and here I'll just discuss what it is we're doing.

Adok requested that I write something up for Hugi. No problem, I just asked him to ask a few questions, to help me address things I may not have thought of. Here's that conversation:

Adok: In my opinion it is important that the demoscene is present at such events. In this way the demoscene could show what its members are able to do, and individual sceners could get attention. The demosceners could also get interesting job offers; and, finally, new people could be attracted to the demoscene.

The demoscene comprises of highly skilled and highly motivated people, so I think the industry would profit from them, too. I can imagine that the industry could use sceners to test their latest developments, or simply recruit them as employees. -- Some of the questions which come into my mind are:

- What would be the best way for the demoscene to present itself at SIGGRAPH?

That's a very important question. SIGGRAPH is big and diverse. It focuses on things from pure art, to film, to very technical matters. It's clear that demos have a place, but that place hasn't already been made for us, it needs to be arranged a bit.

The first, and perhaps easiest, thing is to contribute to is the 'Electronic Theater'. This is a competition of short animations. Everything submitted must be in video format. This causes some people to wonder if it's the proper place to submit a real-time demo. Well, it is. Technical shorts are always encouraged at the 'Electronic Theater'. These are often demonstrating real-time technology -- and the audience is aware of the achievements of the tasks displayed being shown in real time.

Big Hollywood film segments make it to the Electronic Theater too. That's not a problem either -- because shorts made by independent artists make it up to the big screen also. The judges of the Electronic Theater select videos that show the cutting edge -- not the cutting edge of video, but the cutting edge of anything computer graphics.

Not every animation makes it into the final two hour Electronic Theater compilation. The rest goes to the animation festival -- which is shown in three theaters simultaneously for the whole week. (They're offset, so that three different things are shown at all times).

Submitting to the electronic theater will get the demos seen by everyone at siggraph, as part of something that everyone already attends. That's a big win.

In addition, we're looking into creating a special meeting at siggraph. This will be advertised, and anyone at the conference who's interested can show up. We're hoping to get a hold of a nice room with big screen and sound capabilities. I'd like to give a quick overview of demos, show the best and most interesting recent demos, and hold a question answer session.

We're trying to get a speaker or two from the scene as well, Present or past member.

Attention will be focused on how to create a proper nitch for demos at Siggraph. Displaying them as works of art making use of the latest technology, actually being the latest technology. We need to draw out others who can attend Siggraph who are, or have been, in the demo scene.

Siggraph isn't a place to make another demo party. It's a place where everyone shares their accomplishments in computer graphics. That's what we're trying to do, share demos with the rest of the computer graphics community.

- How do you plan to introduce the demoscene to the SIGGRAPH organizing committee and the various people/enterprises exhibiting at SIGGRAPH?

I've pulled together a 'what is a demo' page, including many good links which describe demos in depth. This I'm using for initial communication with the committees of Siggraph.

Apparently we've already done a good job at getting their attention, so now it's much more a matter of properly introducing demos to the rest of the graphics community.

It's great that you mention enterprises exhibiting at Siggraph, because I haven't been thinking about them much until now. So far, I've just been worried about getting all the other people, who are just people, interested in demos. Of course, Siggraph does have tons of corporations attend as well -- many of whom may be interested in demos. I know of quite a few scene members who have obtained job because of their demos, well, here's another route to get demos seen by companies.

It's also an opportunity to get sponsorship. This can be a little touchy, as sponsorship may not be a good thing. (I discuss that on my web page, under 'clarification of purpose'.) However, sponsorship does mean money, which may be of great use to many of those in the scene. Companies like nVidia may very likely be interested in demos -- because they demo their products. Companies must be interested in people who make use of their product, and demos run the cutting edge of what these products can do.

How will the demoscene be presented? Well, the special meeting I mentioned above (a common occurrence at Siggraph, known as a 'Birds of a Feather' meeting) will be an excellent chance to properly present demos. Getting demos into the Electronic Theater will ensure that everyone at Siggraph sees the demos. The Birds of a Feather meeting will provide time specifically allocated to explaining and introducing demos to people.

- Do you plan to be present at this fair personally?

Oh yes. Siggraph 2001 will be my fourth Siggraph. I wouldn't miss it for the world. I love demos, and I wouldn't be the same person if I hadn't been shown them. But demos aren't the only thing that happens in computer graphics. Just as I'm trying to introduce demos to others, there are others who introduce things at Siggraph I haven't heard about yet. It's where the international graphics community meets to share what it has.

People have raised concerns that they can not attend Siggraph. I'd like to point out that Student Volunteers receive assistance with housing and travel. Special consideration is made for international students. Take a look on the Siggraph web site for more details.

I hope I've answered your questions about what's going on with demos at siggraph. A group has formed, and we plan to work on bringing demos to Sigraph together. I encourage anyone with questions, or who wants to get involved, to drop us an email at demos-siggraph@blocksoftware.com. To be kept informed of progress we make, sign up on the announcements list server.