Siggraph 2011 – AKA how to host a stand-out conference

Despite the fact that I was probably the only person at Siggraph 2011 using a PC (awkward…) I had an inspiration and eye-opening time. Needless to say as far as the technology goes, I was a bit out of my league. Despite this, I have learned a few things about how to organize an awesome conference from today, and I will share that knowledge with you:

Venue: It doesn’t hurt that I flew into Vancouver with the North Shore Mountains as a backdrop to start my day, or that it was a sunny, warm West Coast day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Vancouver convention center is unreal. I am biased because I am a bit of a hippie, and the green roof, and Green Standards are impressive, but the all the cedar and the GIANT globe in the foyer of the new conference center set the scene for a unbelievable day.

People: Size Matters. Yup, 25, 000 people all under one roof (covered in grass!) made Siggraph 2011 the biggest conference Vancouver has ever seen. This many nerds under one roof had #siggraph trending on twitter today. I guess that is what happens when a lot of geeks get social. With this many people you just can’t help have a successful conference. Now how to get that many people to attend a conference? Good question. I would start by having passes be really affordable, and the rest is magic.

Food: Don’t bother with it. It usually isn’t very good, and so many people have such finicky dietary restrictions and preferences (yes I’m talking about myself) that they tend to not eat much of it anyway. Give people a chance to get out on their own schedules, and enjoy the sunshine.

Presentations: WOW. The presentations BLEW my mind. If you loved Avatar as much as I did you would have been floored to watch the re-creation of scenes at the Autodesk booth. Watching the process or animation from real actors was awesome. Seeing how realistically a computer can capture and render facial expressions was stunning. And it doesn’t hurt that Avatar is one of my all-time favourite movies.

Vendors: Get the biggest names in Animation, Graphic Arts, 3D media, and Entertainment from across the world, and you are bound to have a mind blowing conference. Walking into the conference was like looking at the Las Vegas Strip for the first time. All the people and flashing lights…

For me some of the highlights were:

–          3d Printers – If you haven’t seen one of these in action yet check it out:

–          QR dinosaurs – Have you ever wanted to hold a dinosaur in your hand? Wave 3D made it possible for me. Check out the cool things this Korean Based Company is doing:

–          PhotoModeler by Eos Systems – This software is amazing. I saw it in action build a 3d model of the façade of a building in about 5 seconds. For those who know how much time it takes us to build a 3D building and texture it, you understand my rapture with this product. This is worth having a look at though:

–          Meeting up with Dan Campbell – Dan is a Graphics Planner at city of Vancouver, and is a good friend of the staff at CloverPoint. This conference came HIGHLY recommended by him, and we value his opinion. It was great to sit down with Dan, have a one-on-one chat about the conference highlights, hear what the city is up to and show him CloverPoint’s latest creations. Dan was instrumental in creating the Vancouver 3D digital city:

PS: I rocked the New CloverPoint T-Shirt at SIGGRAPH 2011 pretty hard today. If you haven’t got yours yet, let us know…there may be a few left.