Vancouver is awesome. It is clean; the people are unbelievably nice; and the convention center is right on the water and easy to navigate. Let's stop going to LA every other year, and start going to Vancouver!
I spent the afternoon in the Introduction to Modern OpenGL Programming course taught by Edward Angel and Dave Shreiner. It was packed, which shows how important OpenGL has become, especially given OpenGL ES and WebGL. I've been a big fan of this course since I first attended it in 2008. They've done a great job of keeping it up to date. It is a nice introduction to OpenGL, including VBOs, VAOs, GLSL, uniforms, transforms, lighting, and texture mapping. They briefly covered tessellation and geometry shaders, but time was tight. I'm looking forward to this class being a full day in the future.
I usually don't make it to the paper sessions, but I always attend the papers fast forward to get an overview of the research being presented. Even the overflow room was packed this year. One paper that jumped out at me was HDR-VDP-2: A calibrated visual metric for visibility and quality predictions in all luminance conditions by Rafal Mantiuk et al. It describes an algorithm for comparing images. They suggest use-cases like determines the quality-loss due to compression. I am interested in it for a much simpler use-case: unit tests. That is, I want to compare images rendered by our 3D engine on different hardware and different drivers, and I don't what false failures for slight differences. This is a surprising hard problem to solve, and at some point, I'd like to look into HDR-VDP for doing so.
A tip for SIGGRAPH attendees: you can buy merchandise from previous SIGGRAPHs at a steep discount at the SIGGRAPH Store. I bought two tee-shirts for $3 each. They also have things like polo shirts, hats, and coffee mugs for dirt-cheap.
One more tip: there is a separate registration line for contributors that is much shorter than the normal line.
Full SIGGRAPH Trip Report: day one | two | three | four | five