I had been fascinated by computer graphics for almost as long as I’ve been interested in computers. My earliest memory of computer graphics was at the California Museum of Science and Industry, predecessor to the current day California Science Center. In association with the 1986 World’s Fair (Expo ’86) in Vancouver, British Columbia, the museum held an exhibit on computer graphics. Part of the exhibit was a computer lab where museum attendees can watch an artist work on a computer. Next to the lab was a TV screen running a video loop.
My attention was captured by the video loop. It included the landmark animation short Luxo Jr. There were many other technical displays of computer graphics in the video loop, but the little hopping lamp is the one that made me sit on the bench and wait for the loop to repeat.
Since this was before the age of Google and Wikipedia, it took me some time to learn that Luxo. Jr. was first presented at a computer graphics industry conference. At the time it was officially just a demonstration of the algorithm described in a paper presented at SIGGRAPH 1986. But history showed it was far more than a simple demo.
Once I knew about SIGGRAPH I knew it would be interesting. However, the conference is not cheap, even before considering the airfare and hotels. Most of the attendees are there for business: they work in a career where their employer would foot the bill. I did not work at such a job so SIGGRAPH remained out of reach.
Until this year.
SIGGRAPH 2017 is in the Los Angeles Convention Center, roughly a 40 minute commute away. Since I didn’t have to invest in airfare or hotel expenses, it made sense to get a taste with a cheap exhibits-only pass.