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SIGGRAPH and the power of positive thought

April 29, 2012

I wrote about SIGGRAPH a few months ago after our annual conference. I help oversee this event dedicated to all things computer graphics and emerging technologies.

I’m going to touch on it again as I fly back from handling the logistics for the conference’s Computer Animation Festival (CAF) jury. I was once again overwhelmed by being surrounded by people of such creativity, joy and integrity. It’s especially inspiring for a person who is often surrounded on the periphery by people possessing the exact opposite qualities.

The CAF is essentially the worlds foremost festival of computer generated films – from commercials to student work to blockbusters. Over the course of a weekend 7 jurors from the world of CGI and 5 support staff pored over more than 300 final submissions in the hopes of putting together an amazing 2 hour presentation.

It’s a lot of work that took place in a screening theatre at Disney Animation Studios over the course of three long days. That much work in those kinds of cramped quarters should have led to some form of hostility. Some kind of complaint. Some kind of drama.

It didn’t.

Why? Because of the makeup of every person in that room. They were single-minded in their work, their attention to detail and their appreciation for the process. Tweaks occurred, but only to improve the process. It was a thing of beauty to watch. It seemed effortless as these 12 very different people moved as a single body.

It was the epitome of collegial.

As you can probably tell, I was bowled over by what I saw. Because of that, I feel compelled to call out some of their names, sort of. They’ve been mildly renamed so those who didn’t make the CAF cut won’t nerd bomb the jurors homes.

David: quiet with a rapier wit and self-deprecating to a hilarious fault.

Katerina: the juggler, you don’t realize just how many items she’s keeping in the air until you get her to sit for moment and chat.

Cris: a big mutt pup that cannot go far enough out of his way to get the job done perfectly.

DanaButDonna: so much midwestern sugar wrapped up as a doting mother and a lover of all things positive.

Chris: the effervescent life of any gathering. He’s the only guy i know who takes more photos than me and somehow convinces everyone to agree to being shot. He’s the pied-piper of photographers.

Joe: the veteran who looks right into your eyes when he talks to you and will talk kitchen fixtures as easily as he will pixels.

Jason: the international (but not Aussie) man of mystery; who stepped in at the last minute to lead the jury. He kept an even hand on the throttle making it easy for everyone to work.

Josh: Big Papa, he couldn’t be there this weekend but his absence spoke volumes as to how much blood and sweat he poured into this CAF program, making sure it ran smooth and hiccup-free.

I didn’t name everyone, but they’re all cut from the same cloth.

And here’s the thing, all of them could have been a diva and gotten away with it because they have that kind of street cred, but they didn’t. It would have been everything they abhorred: counterproductive, dramatic, pathetic.

I leave this meeting hoping I can draw on a renewed sense of creativity and passion, praying that I can hold off the small mindedness and drama that I know is just over the horizon.


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