Although I don't believe that there is an absolute connection between the CG art world and CG technology, I certainly felt that was the case at SIGGRAPH. If what I just said sounds either like an overstatement or a given, allow me to explain.
This year Pixar released Cars, a computer-animated feature whose technical innovations are not as major as the ones in Toy Story or The Incredibles in their respective years. The most important innovations in Cars are artistic. Whereas previous Pixar features contained humanoid or anthropomorphized protagonists, Cars' characters were somewhat abstract in terms of the personalities their designs represented. They were also limited in humanoid movement; thus, restricted in what they can do and did onscreen (how a car populated world could exist was never explained in the film). However Cars is a complete cinematic experience from start to finish. It is primarily appreciated as an animated fantasy with its own set of rules and not as a "Young man goes through a journey to learn a lesson about life—but with CG cars" movie.
I was hoping to run into more films with a Cars-like work mentality at SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival. I do believe that most of the short films chosen for the different CAF theatres have artistic merit. However of the approximately 50 selected animations (I am excluding commercials, FX and similar pieces here), many of them were not able to protect their filmic contexts from being overshadowed by their CG raison-d'êtres.
Want to read the rest of this festival review?
You'll find it and many other articles in the October 2006 issue of fps, available for only $1.49 US.