August 14, 2008
Film festival venues can be overwhelming and conference venues can be overwhelming, but when you combine them... well, the experience hovers somewhat above the horizon. That said, here are some tidbits:

1. Much discussion, several panels, and two full days of screenings of stereoscopic (3D) films, commercials, sports events, games and scientific visualizations on the first day of the conference. 3D is the agenda for 21st-century digital releases. I took in the two-hour screening of 3D clips and then heard fine artist and installation/performance artist Catherine Owens speak about collaborating with Bono on the 3D film of U2's concert in Buenos Aires. She spoke convincingly about "experimental" exploration and commitment to "idea" in relationship to her personal art, as well as in relationship to her directorial debut of the film U2 3D.

2. The Computer Animation Festival is programmed into seven two-hour screenings that most often repeat the commercials, trailers, and synopses of film titles submitted. For example, Rhythm and Hues showcased effects scenes of the polar bears in "The Golden Compass" and that is screened alongside the commercial from Bridgestone Tires many have seen of the squirrel running onto the highway to retrieve a nut as a car swerves to miss killing him. The festival is screening two impressive studio shorts worth mentioning here: Pixar Studios' Presto and Disney Studios' Glago's Guest. If you've seen WALL-E you've seen Presto before the feature screens.

3) A wonderful Tribute To Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas happened today with Tom Sito moderating a panel that included Frank Thomas' son, Theodore Thomas, documentary filmmaker, as well as a group of celebrity animators who had worked with the two of them in a mentor relationship. All of them delightfully shared their experiences with Frank and Ollie and were very well received. More on this later.

A closing note in case you don't want to wait: you may go online to read about all the sessions at SIGGRAPH 08 and can listen to them on DVD. All panels and discussions have been recorded are available for purchase.

I have constantly forgotten the number one rule for attending film festivals and conferences: find a place to sit, eat well and if you do this, thinking might follow! That said, I will return to report more soon, in spite of the L.A. smog my allergies are swimming in...

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