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SIG: A Highlight Overview of SIGGRAPH 2013 with Perspectives on Mac

In this excellent overview article, 3D industry veteran Akiko Ashley sums up the good, the bad and the ugly of SIGGRAPH 2013…

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Next Limit was showing off a new version of their photo realistic rendering software Maxwell used by many companies & individuals for visualizations. Maxwell has plugin support for many software packages that run on both the PC and Mac. FormZ, SketchUp, ArchiCAD, are just a few. Maxwell delivers beautiful renders quickly, at a cost efficient price tag for unforgiving deadlines. If you use SketchUp, you can actually render using the SketchUp Interface. Next Limit announced that Version 3 of Maxwell would be released soon with lots of improvements including faster rendering of high quality renderings for designers working with demanding clients.

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I went to the AMD booth curious after the announcement of the new Mac Pro equipped with two FirePro cards. AMD was showing off the capabilities of the new FirePro card on the PC as Apple hasn’t released any demo models of the Mac Pro yet.  The FirePro card is definitely powerful for doing complex visualizations (though Iray will not run on this card). When I entered the AMD booth Adobe was showing off Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects on a big screen demonstrating OpenCL acceleration. Adobe was quick to illustrate complex tasks in Premiere with real time rendering in real time while making changes with After Effects concurrently, it didn’t stutter. OpenCL acceleration on the FirePro card is truly impressive. Imagine what two of these cards will be like on the Mac Pro.

NVIDIA announced at SIGGRAPH the Quadro K6000, demonstrating real time visualization on the fly with highly complex urban environment models. 12 Gigabyte of memory with 2880 cores makes this a workhorse graphics solution. Though this card is not available on the Mac it is worth noting. VFX Artist Scott Metzger was doing demonstrations at the NVIDA booth, he did a 3D laser scan of the interior of a building plus the exterior of an entire street and imported the high scale geometry model into Maya while making dynamic changes interactively on screen. It was insane!

NVIDIA also was demoing their NVIDIA Grid VCA (Visual Computing Appliance). It is a turnkey network device that allows eight users to seamlessly access graphics intensive applications from a Mac, Windows, or Linux Computer. The GRID VCA allows users to work as if you had a top of the line workstation solution in front of you. Users are easily added or deleted depending on the needs of your pipeline. Mac users! this might be your solution if Apple doesn’t have a Mac Pro with an NVIDIA Quadro card or support for CUDA,  and you want to use Iray+ for huge projects. You could use this GRID VCA as a solution for using software like Iray+. I would recommend this solution for bigger firms since this is a high cost product. The GRID VCA runs about $24,999 plus $24,000 a year for the software. Firms with clients who want instant gratification will find it with this solution.

03 - Award-winning visual effects Hollywood veteran Eric Durst standing in front of The Foundry booth. Architosh interviewed Eric Durst several years ago. (courtesy Akiko Ashley, All Rights Reserved.)

03 – Award-winning visual effects Hollywood veteran Eric Durst standing in front of The Foundry booth. Architosh interviewed Eric Durst several years ago. (courtesy Akiko Ashley, All Rights Reserved.)

After the show I attended Pixar’s Renderman User Group by invitation, and The Shotgun Party. Pixar celebrated 25 years of Renderman with members of the original Renderman team. Pixar handed out their 25th Anniversary hats and teapots. Pixar teapots are a collectible in limited numbers, exclusive editions are handed out at the Renderman User Group. Pixar talked about Renderman Technology, and  the roadmap for Renderman. The Shotgun Party had the Big Lebowski themed bowling party at 300 Anaheim with pool tables, video games, and of course you guessed it… bowling. Open bar with beer and wine, and of course White Russians (Big Lebowski theme). I met several people from the CAD industry and the visual effects industry having a great time. It is a great way to end the day.

I hope to elaborate one some of the products in future reviews…next years SIGGRAPH is in Vancouver, Canada…hope to be there to bring you more news.

[Editor’s Note: A special thanks to longtime Architosh friend and contributor, Akiko Ashley for this wonderful overview of this year’s SIGGRAPH. We will continue detailed reports on many of the items mentioned here in the next two weeks. Look for show floor pictures coming up soon!]

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