READER REPORT: Disney @ Siggraph

Bill Robinson, an animation student at RIT, sent the Brew some thoughtful comments about Disney’s appearance at SIGGRAPH ’05. Here’s what he has to say:

I was at Siggraph last week and I saw that same clip that the AICN guy was so excited about. I saw it a couple of times (once in the “Legacy of Disney Animation” special session and another on a tour of the Disney Studio given to students). It’s amazing! It seriously is that Fragonard painting in three dimensions. I have no idea how they did it, but I assume it worked off their Deep Canvas technology as it looked like real oil paint. The other clip, the animated one, was also very promising. I’m not sure that the story will be anything too wonderful (it involves a lot of shape shifting and people being turned into animals and such) but the visual style is going to be great.

I was amazed at the presence that Disney Feature Animation had at Siggraph, way overshadowing tiny little Pixar’s booth. They had one of the largest booths on the floor with three computer stations showing off the versatility of the characters from Chicken Little and Wilbur Robinson. There were Disney animators and technical artists teaching Maya Masterclasses, as well as the Disney Legacy special session and the tours they gave of the studio. They even brought Glen Keane in and introduced him as the face of the future of Disney animation. I can see from this massive effort that they are trying to put themselves on the map as the place to be for the top talent to work at. Pixar barely made a peep at the show, handing out some plastic teapots and hocking its Renderman software. I am happy to see that Disney only made the switch to CG after finding ways to do cartoony 2D animation in 3D. They showed some of their rigs for the Chicken Little characters and these things were terrific – squash and stretch, bendy arms and legs, fully sculptable silhouettes, smear controls on the mesh, the ability to literally break the rig into separate pieces and stretch things as far as you want in any direction…it’s all very promising.

Bill also wrote about other aspects of the SIGGRAPH experience on his blog HERE. The report includes photos and is a fun read.