by Jim Bennett (August 11, 1999)
The last Siggraph of this century will be over in a few hours. Here are some quick thoughts before I dash off to see the last day of the show.
3D is everywhere as exhibitors concentrate on high performance animations and unique visuals. Attendees and buyers are looking for more "bang for the buck" and greater production efficiencies. There is a continuing push on producing advertisements and commercials, as companies try to make their clients happy and have them keep spending money, while also helping them break through the current visual ad clutter with unique visuals.
Attendees and companies are looking at how to best use the higher video data rates and transfer capability now and in the future. There doesn't appear to be good integration between packages, despite the hype. Visionary, out of the box thinking needs more effort.
I also felt that there were no great breakthroughs at the show, just evolution. Continuous improvement and refinement of products, along with consolidation of companies and processes. This industry and its companies are going through a "let's get real" phase to make profits and survive. Most places are busy, but some layoffs are occurring. Some companies are very profitable, others are so-so, while others are paying lower salaries to new workers and are not looking for more seasoned staff. I think that really outstanding talent should be key.
The 2D and 3D graphics markets are continuing to merge and highly defined vertical process segments are developing.
There was tremendous activity at the career center and job fair, especially with younger, recent grads. Some appeared quite talented, while others were searching for sometime cool to do. Pay is secondary among many.
Linux usage appears to be growing at a faster rate than NT. It's on the minds of most everyone I talked to.
Here are some of the exhibitors I visited today:
Discert demonstrated some good 2D kinetics along with good 3D. Other companies are still working on the best integration strategy to this technical problem.
Linker Systems handed out a free demo version of their product. I heard some attendees say that the product is a bit pricey for what it does, but I will have to evaluate that point later. The presentation wasn't as dynamic as I felt it should be.
SGI's restructuring is the big news and I saw their virtual universe sneak preview. I was not as impressive or immersive as other demonstrations, but it's still early. It will be showing in New York City at the end of year.
Mitsubishi Electric demonstrated some great visualization for medical usage. It was impressive and showed very fast, real-time rendering.
Global Majic showed some off the shelf simulation software at somewhat affordable prices. The military Hummer and F-18 demonstration were good, but not earth shattering.
Geometrix demonstration of 3D scanning was quite cool.
Industrial Light & Magic showed some extremely cool effects. I will be covering this in an upcoming digital cinema article.
Sun Microsystems had some ultra high definition video and virtual reality demonstrations. I tried some of the head mounted displays that were quite good.
Matrox's DigiSuite TV looked great for $6000 and it seemed easy to use, with very high quality.
Well I'm off to LACC to see more booths, at the last day of the Siggraph '99 trade show.
© 1999 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.