SIGGRAPH 2006 Electronic Theater

Last night I attended the premiere of this year’s Electronic Theater at SIGGRAPH 2006. It was an expensive ticket, but it was a great time. My favorite shorts were “Doll Face”, “Carlitopolis”, “A Great Big Robot From Outer Space Ate My Homework”, “Growth by Aggregation 2 (the Utah variation)”, “Noggin”, “One Man Band”, and the Best of Show “One Rat Short” (which really deserved the accolades. I appreciated most of these films on both technical and creative merits… Most everything shown, however, was great, so I felt guilty picking the above as my “favorites”. Before the show they had this rig from Cinematrix that allowed the audience to play games on the big screen by holding up a red/green paddle. It was pretty wild, but the actual games were somewhat gimmicky. The best was a game of pong where the room split down the middle into teams and each side had to coordinate moving the paddle by showing the proper paddle color for up and down.

Another highlight of the show was seeing Sony’s new 4k digital theater projector. It was simply astonishing, no two ways about it. I think once Sony can actually make these projectors in quantity and start shipping them to theatres, there will be little argument left for mainstream theatres sticking to film projection. After the credits they did a little demo, showing two renderings of “Growth by Aggregation 2 (the Utah variation)”, one at 2k resolution and one at 4k, and the difference in detail was night and day. The Electronic Theatre itself was pretty impressive, given that it was just a large “ballroom” at the Boston Convention Center. They had a decent surround rig (although it seemed only a few of the shorts took advantage) and the seats were amazingly comfortable. Way better than I expected.

Yesterday was also my first experience with the new Silver Line subway service. For those not “in the know”, the Silver Line is actually a bus service, but with dedicated, (often) underground roads which avoid traffic. I wonder how the cost/benefit breakdown works for bus vs. train as far as subway goes, but the experience was pleasant. One annoyance is that the MBTA is currently in the midst of transitioning to their new automated fare collection system, CharlieTicket/CharlieCard (similar to the MetroCard in NYC). For instance, I have to use change/tokens to board the Green Line trains when they are above ground (like by our house), but once they go underground I can no longer use change/tokens, but instead have to use the new CharlieTickets (which don’t work above ground). It will be nice when the trains are upgraded to take the new cards so I don’t have to scrounge for change when I want to go down town.

Update: Holy shit, I forgot to give props to the short “Flow”, which was a highlight/demo reel of Scanline’s fluid simulations… It’s the best artificial water I’ve ever seen.

2 thoughts on “SIGGRAPH 2006 Electronic Theater

  1. Audience interaction is a fun topic. We did some work with it in grad school, culminating in the Magic Mirror project. I think they did a good job of going beyond the paddles and pong, both in terms of utility and just plain fun.

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