Sunday, June 24, 2012

Picks for SIGGRAPH 2012

SIGGRAPH 2012 will be my fifth consecutive SIGGRAPH, and it is shaping up to be the best one yet. Here's what I'm looking forward to.


There is more OpenGL content this year than ever before

I highly recommend the Introduction to Modern OpenGL course taught by Ed Angel and Dave Shreiner for beginner and intermediate OpenGL developers. I attended the course twice in the past. See the slides and code from 2011 and 2008.

The new GPU Shaders for OpenGL 4.x course by Mike Bailey is a timely course covering the OpenGL 4.x pipeline, including tessellation shaders. Although I will miss it due to a scheduling conflict, I will be sure to catch the video since I plan to have a new lecture on this in my GPU Programming and Architecture course this fall.

For those of us teaching OpenGL, I'm glad to see quite a bit of SIGGRAPH content. Mike Bailey is organizing the Teaching OpenGL in a Post-Deprecation World and Khronos Institute for Training and Education (KITE) for Educators BOFs back-to-back (more on KITE here).

The OpenGL BOF organized by Khronos Group is usually the OpenGL developer event of the year. However, it has competition this year. I believe the OpenGL 20th Anniversary Party, following the BOF, will be the biggest OpenGL event ever and the highlight of SIGGRAPH for me. From what I can gather, there will be beer, food, tee-shirts, Kurt Akeley, and a ton of other people passionate about OpenGL. Want to help spread the word? Here are the creative banners with well-known 3D models used in graphics research.

Our new book, OpenGL Insights, will be released. Christophe Riccio and I served as editors, and worked with a large and amazing group of authors and reviewers to bring the book together in the true community spirit of OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL. Topics include performance, debugging, framework design, teaching, and more. The website with sample chapters will be up soon (totally my fault that it isn't up yet), in the meantime there are some older blog posts is up now with five sample chapters, an OpenGL pipeline map, and other goodies. There will be a book signing at the CRC Press booth at the expo on Tuesday afternoon (details TBA), 2-3pm, and, of course, we'll sign books at the Anniversary Party if you track us down. Given the number of contributions that will be there, it is a unique opportunity to get the book signed by several folks. Books will also be given away at the OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL BOFs. Better study the specs!

Those using OpenGL and OpenCL in Java may be interested in the JogAmp: 2D/3D & Multimedia Across Devices BOF. I attended the JOGL BOF several years ago, and recall it being worthwhile.

Real-Time Rendering

Given my interest in rendering massive ammounts of imagery for virtual globes, I'll be at the new Virtual Texturing in Software and Hardware course, by Juraj Obert, J.M.P. van Waveren, and Graham Sellers. JP presented virtual textures in id Tech 5 at SIGGRAPH 2009. I'm interested to see how traditional techniques compare to the new partially resident textures (PRT) GPU feature.

The Beyond Programmable Shading course organized by Mike Houston, Aaron Lefohn, and Johan Andersson is always awesome. In fact, it inspires much of the content in my GPU Programming and Architecture course. The course contents are not out yet, but if I had to take a guess based on current trends, they will include alternative rendering pipelines written in CUDA or OpenCL, systems-on-a-chip, and the future of rendering APIs. Check out the course slides from previous years (2011, 2010, 2009, and
2008), and the related courses at Stanford and University of Washington. This course is usually a full day, but it looks like it's only half a day this year.

The full-day Advances in Real-Time Rendering in Games course organized by Natalya Tatarchuk presents rendering techniques in the latest games. I somehow miss most of it every year, but hope to attend a good bit this year. Check out the slides from 2011 and 2010.

Given how awesome the course notes from their SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 course are, I am excited for the Efficient Real-Time Shadows course by Elmar Eisemann, Ulf Assarsson, Michael Schwarz, Michal Valient, Michael Wimmer.

The Game Worlds talks organized by a Corrinne Yu should be good. In particular, the Creating Vast Game Worlds - Experiences From Avalanche Studios talk by Emil Persson will cover a number of topics I am interested in for virtual globes. His related chapter in GPU Pro was also quite good.

Surf & Turf talks organized by Kenny Mitchell also look not to be missed.


I expect the WebGL BOF organized by Khronos Group (Ken Russell) to be awesome this year. Last year the room was packed - people standing, sitting on the floor, and crowding around the door. Let's hope the room is a lot bigger this year. I believe (I am!) I'm demoing Cesium, our WebGL virtual globe and map.

Graphics Programming for the Web is a timely new course by Pushkar Joshi, Mikaël Bourges-Sévenier, Ken Russell, and Zhenyao Mo covering WebGL and other relavant HTML5 techniques. It sounds like it will be pretty broad, which is great for C++ developers like me that recently started to pretend to be web developers.

Although not WebGL-specific, I'll be at the Rest 3D BOF organized by Rémi Arnaud. I'll even miss part of Beyond Programmable Shading for it! Rest 3D is defining a REST API for accessing 3D content over HTTP. If it gets widespread adoption from content providers, WebGL apps using the API will have access to a ton of content, which is a big win for everyone.


SIGGRAPH Mobile is new this year. I expect it will grow significantly in the coming years.

This year, the Understanding Mobile Graphics - GPUs and Platforms talks organized by Lars Erik Holmquist look like they will help me develop content for my GPU Programming and Architecture course. I suspect Saving the Planet, One Handset at a Time: Designing Low-Power, Low-Bandwidth GPUs by Tom Olson, Edvard Sorgard, and Dave Shreiner will cover tile-based rendering and other techniques. If Unity: iOS and Android - Cross-Platform Challenges and Solutions by Renaldas Zioma is anything like the How to Write Fast iPhone and Android Shaders in Unity Studio Workshop he presented last year with Aras Pranckevičius, it is going to be fantastic.


It's been a few years since SIGGRAPH offered the Fundamentals Seminar course by Mike Bailey, so I am happy it is back this year since I've never been to it. It's always worth going over fundamentals, especially with my educator's hat on.

I'll catch a few other BOFs, including OpenGL ES, COLLADA (WebGL best practices?), and OpenCL.

Although I rarely attend a lot of paper sessions, I always attend the Technical Papers Fast Forward to see new research, and perhaps more so, to be entertained by the short and creative paper pitches.

If anyone wants to meet at SIGGRAPH, send me a note,