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  Reports from SIGGRAPH 2001


By Tai-San Choo

Each year SIGGRAPH offers full and half-day courses over a wide range of CG related topics included art, science, and engineering. These courses offer extensive instruction from the top experts in each area being discussed, meaning attendees learn about the latest innovations and advances in the industry. Courses vary in presentation format from lecture-style to more interactive workshops.

With 59 total courses and over a hundred speakers this year’s Courses program was the largest to date. Courses Committee Chair, Valerie Miller was on the jury panel that received a record 100 proposals for courses. “We’ve got the web stuff, API, psychometrics, hardcore math, video, animation…. There’s something for everybody,” Miller said. Almost no proposals were immediately discarded, giving the jury that much harder of a job in selecting which courses to take aboard. “It got to the point where you almost thought it would be the toss of a coin as to figure out which ones were going to make it,” Miller said.

The arduous process of elimination involved weighing which areas were heavily represented to those more sparsely proposed. Certain courses like the MPEG-4 and OpenGL 2 courses almost didn’t make the cut, but since they represented subjects that were upcoming technologies the jury decided they were more necessary for the conference. With eight more courses offered then last year, the duty of accepting proposals and coming up with an appropriate schedule to fit the rooms available proved to be a juggling act.

Courses placed in the larger rooms like Ballroom A and Ballroom C1-3 tend to be those that typically draw larger audiences. “The animation courses are always popular, but what I’ve seen lately is that a lot of the more advanced courses are being attended pretty heavily,” Miller said. Most of the movie special effects courses, like Stuart Little 2: Let the Feathers Fly, are scheduled for the huge Ballroom A. Other large capacity courses included Simulating Nature: Realistic and Interactive Techniques, RenderMan in Production, State of Art in Hardware Shading, Recent Advances in Non-Photorealistic Rendering for Art and Visualization, Recreating the Past, and Real-Time Shading.

Some of the more interactive courses were held in the Creative Applications Lab. This facility provided computers, projection devices, and correlating hardware and software to go with the appropriate classes in order to give attendees a more hands-on approach to the material. A few courses that took advantage of the lab were Mathematics and Physics for Coding Motion and Interactivity in Web Graphics; XML Basics for XHTML, SCG, and SMIL; Introduction to SVG and SMIL; High-Quality Volume Graphics on Consumer PC Hardware; and An Interactive Introduction to OpenGL Programming.

A large part of deciding course sizes depends on attendee input. Every year the course selection committee sees which classes tend to draw the most audiences and take that into account for the upcoming year. On the conference website the schedule builder not only helps attendees plan their week but also helps conference organizers make last minute changes to compensate for unexpected class sizes. Also, each course offers comment cards that are helpful each year in improving the overall program.

The actually make-up of courses has changed over the years as well. “We’re seeing a lot more advanced courses being submitted in response to attendee feedback,” Miller said. Some of the newer research areas, which may have been covered by Papers the previous years come back the next year as courses as research becomes more extensive on those particular subjects. “One of the great things that comes out of this is the cooperation between researchers who don’t know each other,” said Miller. An example of this is the Commodity Clusters for Immersive Projective Environments course, which consists of a panel of lecturers from Brazil, France, and Illinois who had been working on their ideas separately. Through a few dinners and email conversations they decided to incorporate their research for a new course in this year’s conference. This kind of international cooperation exemplifies the strong community atmosphere created by SIGGRAPH.

The Courses program is an ever-improving system and the courses committee is always looking for ways to make next year’s program even better. “I’d like see more interactive stuff in the courses, however interactivity is an expensive thing, being able to provide the software and hardware to do things. Being a teacher by trade I know that a lot of people learn better by doing it,” Miller said. The Creative Applications Lab has played a larger role in trying to make courses more hands-on, but there is only so much time and room available in the lab during the week.

The Courses program provides SIGGRAPH attendees with a wealth of knowledge and connections in the forefront of the computer graphics community. They allow in-depth informative sessions to explain and review research that would be impossible to condense in shorter sessions like Panels and Papers, Sketches and Applications, or Special Session lectures. For more information on specific courses you can check out the conference website or some of the courses covered by our reports staff.



Course coverage:

MPEG-4: The Next Generation for Interactive Media

Design of Interactive Multimodal Media Systems

A Field Guide to Digital Color

Interactive Geometric Computations Using Graphics

Character Setup: Rigging for Animation

Introduction to the Impact of Public Policy on Computer Graphics
together with Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Digital Rights Management for Computer Graphics

State of the Art in Hardware Shading


Courses started at 8:30AM on SUNDAY!!! And they continued into Wednesday.


SIGGRAPH 2002 Courses Page

Photos from SIGGRAPH 2002


This page is maintained by
Jan Hardenbergh
All photos you see in the 2002 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY