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SIG’18: Siggraph 2018 — Vancouver Highlights From Computer Graphics Show

Akiko Ashley covers the recent SIGGRAPH computer graphics show from Vancouver, noting the highlight announcements in 3D software and VR/AR/MR technologies along with key hardware from Nvidia.

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OTOY and Epic Games unveiled Octane Render for the Unreal Game Engine.  Octane Render 4.0 is available with a complete feature release including a new volumetric Denoiser, light linking, and a  true Uber material to the GPU renderer.  OTOY demonstrated a demo of Vectron and Spectron, the new procedural uber primitives and volumetric lighting system due in Octane Render revision 2018.1.

There were demonstrations of environmental reflections in real time with AR Kit in Unity.


Allegorithmic hosted a Substance Day Event at Meeting Room 1 at the Vancouver Convention Center. Sebastien Deguy, Allergorithmic’s CEO, presented what’s new in Substance including the new user interface look, floating windows, align nodes, contextual editing, faster bakers, 3D shape nodes and a new splatter node, shape extrude node, splatter node.

06 – Allegorithmic booth at SIGGRAPH 2018. (image: Colin McLaughlin, Liaison PR / Architosh. All rights reserved.)

Get more control on normal maps with normal map intensity and transform, better transformation tools (Quad Transform, Trapezoid Transform), new gradient tools with control points. There are new node improvements including new and improved flood fill, material transform improvement, new reaction and diffusion filter, and faster auto levels. A new Python API that will allow you to control every part of Substance Designer through scripting.

07 – Another look at Allegorithmic’s booth and the show floor in general at SIGGRAPH 2018. (image: Colin McLaughlin, Liaison PR / Architosh. All rights reserved.)

Substance Day included a session on VR/AR Experience in Architectural & Design hosted by Stephen Phillips, CTO, from Theia Interactive. The session talked about recreating client materials in Substance Designer to painting details using Substance Painter and bashing together a scene with Substance Source.


NVIDIA stole the stage at the keynote as CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the new Turing Based Quadro RTX video cards including the Quadro RTX 8000, Quadro RTX 6000, and the Quadro RTX 5000 bringing hardware accelerated ray tracing, AI, advanced shading and simulation for creative artists working with high-end visualization and computer graphics.

The only problem is that this technology is unavailable for the Mac-based pros for the moment on Mac hardware, but you might find yourself on a virtual server with RTX technology. Jensen Huang showed the Porsche Presentation “The Speed of Light” of the Porsche 911 Concept Car created using Unreal and the NVIDIA Quadro RTX Technology.

There is Global Illumination and Ray Tracing. There is reflection and refraction on the windshield. You can see the light leaking right into the cabin, the dynamic reflections. DLA (deep learning accelerator), ray-tracing, faster shading are due to the Tensor Cores using Turing technology are able to accelerate the image ray-trace rendering by 6x times that of the previous Pascal technology.

08 – Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA at GTC 2018. (image: Akiko Ashley / Architosh. All rights reserved)

Architects need photo-realistic models. Jensen Huang demonstrated how SolidWorks and Revit models could be modified in real-time using RTX technology. Cannon Design did a customer presentation this year at SIGGRAPH, demonstrating NVIDIA’s Holodeck immersive project review application. It is possible to make cutting planes or add comments in real time, and if you import models from 3DS Max or Maya, you can allow management of display layers to see different aspects of the building.

This is critically important for new hardware and software technology from Nvidia. Imagine what this might be like in the upcoming future modular Mac Pro Apple has promised Mac-based pros.


Autodesk hosted the VISION SERIES including panels, sessions, and workshops demonstrating their workflows, masterworks, and trends by Autodesk professional clients. The series is in its fifth year and includes presentations by ILM, Netflix, WETA Digital, MPC and Electronic Arts Sports.

During the CEO’s (Jensen Huang) keynote, he showed a demonstration of Autodesk’s Arnold Beta utilizing OptiX running on Quadro RTX GPU hardware. The ray tracing capabilities were 3 to 6 times faster than the previous Pascal technology Quadro cards. Autodesk also hosted a Shotgun Developer Day to help developers learn to use Shotgun’s advanced features.

Other Items and Final Notes from SIGGRAPH

Additional SIGGRAPH announcements include items like The Foundry provided updates to Nuke, Mari, and Katana. Blender announced the release of Blender 2.8 Alpha 2 and showed off how to use Grease Pencil.

Ikinema’s real-time animation technology was employed on two projects showcased at “RealTime Live!” at SIGGRAPH 2018.

Reallusion showed innovations in motion capture and character creation at this year’s SIGGRAPH show, including the standalone character creation tool Character Creator 3—the real-time motion capture solution Motion Live, and 3D face motion capture with Live Face for iPhone X.

Unity’s booth celebrated real-time creative achievements with a focus on films directors, CG artists, and animators among others. Wacom Creators’ Conference, an evening presentation and forum spotlighted Wacom’s latest concept in the areas of Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality.

Apple Continues to Send Mixed Signals to Mac-based Pros

Apple hasn’t exhibited at SIGGRAPH since the days of the G5, and while the innovator has promised a future modular new Mac Pro and delivered a new powerful iMac Pro, the company’s black box ways of communicating with the market continue to leave its legends of loyal users guessing, and perhaps straining their loyalty.

iMac Pro and Mac Pro users doing architectural visualization and design should remember that Apple this June dropped support for OpenGL and OpenCL by deprecating those technologies, which means older software packages that support OpenGL and OpenCL may not be able to integrate with newer tools or run on newer versions of macOS or iOS systems or more modern hardware.

When you consider what to buy in the future, consider the options explored here as many more become available. Mac-based Pros still have the support of the many software companies already supplying solutions to the platform—and many do their development on the Mac—but monitoring the graphics API landscape across these solutions will become more important going forward, in the face of OpenGL’s deprecation.

Developers will choose different paths, such as converting to Apple’s Metal API, adopting a pathway that involves Vulkan, or instead pushing their solutions to the web and WebGL.

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