Siggraph too comercial?


Anyone else feeling like Siggraph is going the way of E3?
It use to be such a great meeting of the minds.
I remember sitting in on a round table with Ed Catmull and 60+ other people. But now the lectures and classes are so commercial it’s really turned me off to the show.

Anyone else feel the same way?


Yup It’s kind of sad. Now it seems that everywhere you go there are Carni-barkers yelling " Consume … Stupid!" And with all the advertisements it almost like the film They Live but you don’t really need the glasses to see what is really going on.


The industry and the world is changing, so SIGGRAPH had to evolve. I welcome the new changes, giving a place for scientists and also to artists who are not interested on papers or equations. 10 years ago I had to visit the animation theaters to watch the most recent animation, now thanks to internet I can watch those animations at home, read interviews or even making the interviews myself.

The last years we saw SIGGRAPH shrinking while parallel events growing (e.g. master classes), I’m happy a big organization is willing to change and become a less impersonal convention.


I guess it depends on perspective. Every year you have artists that complain SIGGRAPH is too technical, and researchers that complain it’s too commercial. Sure if you just walk around the convention center and mainly visit the exhibition floor or guerilla studio, tech demos plus all the vendor events (user group meetings) sure it looks like a big commercial show. But there are many other venues, even the more accessible ones like special sessions and sketches are barely commercial if at all.

I’m not sure which classes or lectures you’ve attended, but they haven’t been commercial at all in my experience, most SIGGRAPH classes are technical in nature. I do agree that’s it’s less personal this days because of the size of the convention, but even then I do find a few chances to meet and talk with some of the minds there. I also spend less time at the exhibitn floor than I used to.


Go back to the late 90s and ask your question again.


I actually agree and didn’t really enjoy the last siggraph i went to. This year i’m considering going to adapt instead. It looks much smaller and more focused. I did enjoy a few of the independant sessions at last years siggraph. The main courses by ILM and pixar were just way too crowded for my taste. Also everyone has mentioned master classes, but last i checked they’re really expensive.


Well strictly speaking the Autodesk MasterClasses are not part of SIGGRAPH. They’re a bit pricey but for some that’s their main focus. They get one of the lower priced SIGGRAPH registrations and register for the Masterclasses.

For the other you are probably refering to the sketches and special sessions, and that has to do with poor planning, not if SIGGRAPH is too commercial or not. SIGGRAPH should know that these kind of presentations ( from big films and productions) usually attract the largest audiences.

In the good old days of the 90s SIGGRAPH would book a lot of space in the convention centers so it wasn’t much of an issue (even though it still happened). Now it seems as a cost cutting measure they book less space. I remember when there used to be up to 4 animation theatres. And special sessions were always schedule in the biggest spaces.

What was aggravating last year were several different factors: Papers schedules were extended and some of these special sessions were not put in the largest spaces. It especially acute in the Transformers and Happy Feet special sessions. Even with overflow rooms it was a mess. In both cases the large space was devoted to a Papers session, which might have had less people in that huge room than all the people cramped in the special sessions. The Transformers one was even worse since it was scheduled in the morning at the same time as all other sessions instead of the more traditional lunch time or late evening time.

I do recommend feeling the feedback forms at SIGGRAPH so hopefully they’ll listen so tha we don’t end with another new logo fiasco :-P. Now with thses year’s revamp of the program we’ll see if there aren’t any significant glitches during the conference.


I have only been to one SIGGRAPH but I have been to various other conferences as well.

I found that my experience at SIGGRAPH was much more beneficial then going to GDC. With SIGGRAPH I found better networking, presentations, and I felt I got a lot more out of the conference in general. I saw a lot more opportunities to gain knowledge and insight into several areas of development whereas at GDC I felt it wasnt as open. That may have to do with the pass situation levels as well.

I just felt a really well rounded experience as a student at least years SIGGRAPH and thats my 2 cents.


I agree with your prespective. However, I’ve heard rumor that Emerging Technologies is going away this year. I don’t agree with this decision much and I am on both the artistic and technical side. I always enjoyed walking through ET, playing with tomorrows tech, and germinating ideas, etc. For me it’s one of the things that I LOVE about SIGGRAPH.

On the other hand, I agree with Titus. This may be a preemptive change in a growing industry. But, we all know how well “preemptive” works. :curious: We’ll just have to see if people miss it when all is said and done.

PS. I hope I heard wrong.


Emerging Technologies has been renamed New Tech Demos. Though they only list 3 things, hopefully because of an incomplete schedule.


Well, I’m glad it’s not gone completely.


Well, I can tell you that the SIGGRAPH conference committee has spent more than 2 years at this point trying to address some of the issues that have been raised here. SIGGRAPH 2008 is going to be a noticeably different format than the conferences of the last 10 years. Each area is going to be, hopefully… more. The Computer Animation Festival is now a full-on Animation Festival, rather than screenings of the same topic reels over-and-over in a screening room. They’re working towards a high-quality art journal and juried art awards in upcoming years to better serve the artistic community. There’s more focus on participation and process-exhibition with the expansion of things like the FJORG! animation competition and collaborative areas. They continue to refine the process for papers jurying to keep the technical program at the top of the game.

One thing I’m personally really excited about is the increased participation of co-located events. The Sandbox video game symposium is the weekend before SIGGRAPH, as is Web3D and about 7 other topic-specific small conferences. Same airfare and hotel room, and the opportunity to register and attend multiple events with their own content.

Anyhow, I’m not on the conference committee this year, though I have been in the past. The 2008 and 2009 conferences are going to be serious testing grounds for new ideas, as the new format shakes out, and there will be things that SIGGRAPH has never done before – and may never do again! Every attendee will get something different out of it, of course. But freshining things up hopefully is going to re-build some of the image that has slowly developed, of the conference sometimes being “too commercial” or “not focused enough.” The new content areas will change year-to-year, so locating content that’s relevant to you should be much easier.


kilmerj : Thank you!

Things appear a little clearer to me now. Siggraph 2007 was a giant octopus with so many tentacles that it was near impossible to know where and when are things we want to see. I miss beginning two times because of running from one place to another in convention center.

I’m waiting a lot of the new organisation. And your message really give hope and a little start of answer to the question ‘why they change something that seems to work fine?’.

I’ll be at Siggraph 2008 and I’ ve strongly recommend ‘my’ students to be there also. I wish it will be such a magical event as it was last years.


Quoted for agreement. You’re starting this thread ten years too late.


Hi, I certainly agree with you. Your advice is really very helpful for us.

Thanks a lot!


They finished with conference select option.
I used to go with CS. I don’t know what to do now and I didn’t understand why they changed it.


They didn’t give a reason for eliminating the Conference Select. It could be that it can’t be really done/adapted to the new conference structure. Or maybe it was not cost effictive or market research said that that they could get more money by making people choose between the full and the basic option.

In any case I would now wait for the full schedule, due in at most 8 days. That way you can see if you can use a comibination of full and basic one day passes to try to save some money.


Every year you have artists that complain SIGGRAPH is too technical, and researchers that complain it’s too commercial.

This will be my first time at SIGGRAPH, and I gotta say that I’m incredibly excited about the amount of companies/technologies that will be there! I’m an artist first and have been learning to use “the box” at school, and the fact that SIGGRAPH is trying to synergize the art side with the tech side is awesome!

It might be more “commercial” now than it was 10 years ago in terms of size, but this entire industry didn’t even exist 20 years ago!


Actually today is smaller than 10 years ago. SIG 97 holds the record of attendants with almost 50,000 people. The commercial side comes from how they are organzing now, not the size.

Jim Blinn says in one of his books they started the animation festival when a group of friends gathered on a hotel room to watch their videos. Now the E.T. is a whole festival, of course things have changed a lot in the last decades.


Well technically speaking, the first SIGGRAPH conference was in 1974 (it started as a committee in 67 and becae an ACM SIG in 1969) and the first time they had an exhibition floor was 1976.

To me it’s more of a problem of logistics rather than content. You can see the commercial, technical and creative sides of the conference on the full registration. But many that come on the cheaper categories may only see the exhibition floorasthe main thing. But the logistics have not been in top form the last few years. Anyone who tried to go to the Trasformers and Happ Feet special sessions last year can atest. Overflow rooms were not ready and how come they didn’t assign the biggest rooms tothose events in the first place, like they used to?

Anyway this film festival format has me worried a bit but we’ll see.