History of Live From SIGGRAPH

Updated July 28, 2006 (updates coming soon – yeah I just resurrected this in 2023)

Back in 1996, my office was in the basement of the library at Case Western Reserve University. In the office next to me was a guy named Doug Kelly, a systems librarian with a background in computer graphics. I was working as a multimedia developer and we had a lot in common.

He told me that he was going to ‘the’ computer graphics conference – SIGGRAPH in New Orleans and asked if I wanted to tag along. I couldn’t afford to go, but since he rented a condo and was already driving that all I needed was the time off and $50 for the exhibit floor.

I asked my boss for $50, the week off work, and part of the gas and condo money. He said that driving took too long and offered not only to fly me, but give Doug the week off and fly both of us (since Doug was paying for the condo).

The conference was amazing, the people, the technology, the Newtek party on the Riverboat, the Apple party in the Mardi Graw float place. I learned a lot too. When I got back I briefed my boss on all of the technology, techniques, and show discounts.

1997 rolled around and Doug told me that SIGGRAPH was out in Los Angeles and would be even bigger and better than New Orleans. I again asked my boss if I could go, and he agreed to fly both Doug and myself because we were staying with Doug’s father.

This time I remembered to bring my digital camera – a real early model. I wanted to get pictures to show everyone back home about the conference.

The pictures were a big hit at home, I gave my SIGGRAPH slide show again and again. I was really surprised at how many people who were at the show asked me to send them the pictures too.

In 1998 Doug left the university to write computer books full-time (Character Animation in Depth, Digital Compositing in Depth). I asked my boss about going solo to SIGGRAPH in Orlando and he agreed to put me in hotel and let me attend the full conference including the courses.

Before I left, I setup my office PowerMac as a webserver and posted my SIGGRAPH pictures every night from the hotel. I told Doug, my boss, and some friends to look at the site so they could see what I was doing.

When Doug posted the URL to the CG-Char list the server went down faster than I could have someone locally reboot it. I had to shuffle around the location of the site from one national server to the next to keep it running.

People at the conference were coming up to me and asking me about things I had posted just the night before.

I post pictures that I find amusing: people I meet, people who are interesting, parties I go to, anything that catches my fancy including those things that have nothing to do with the conference. To me of course they are part of the conference ‘trip’ and in my mind are the same event.

In 1999, SIGGRAPH was in Los Angeles again, Doug was editing Keyframe Magazine and asked me to hold off posting any Newtek and Lightwave related pictures for publication. He took me with him as a photographer for his interviews at Foundation Imaging. I was on my 6th digital camera by then and the pictures were crisper and at a print resolution. I was spending about an hour a night editing and creating the pages.

Over the years my role in multimedia had increased. I moved into the field of Virtual Reality as a Virtual Reality Specialist. One of our biggest projects was the VR Castle that I have presented at educational conferences around the world – France, Holland, Japan, Scotland, Finland. The trip to Japan was in the summer of 2000 on the same dates as SIGGRAPH New Orleans. I not only were invited to speak on the Virtual Reality Castle but also to give a hands-on workshop in Multimedia Development in Macromedia Director. So while I regretted that I missed going to SIGGRAPH I can assure everyone I was being true to the spirit of CG.

SIGGRAPH 2001 was again in Los Angeles and the girl I was dating was very interested and promised to carry my camera bag. In addition to my digital camera, I brought my 35mm and 3D film cameras. The 3D camera really captures more of the essence of SIGGRAPH. It was funny though to walk around with a 1950’s camera at this very high-tech conference. I don’t post the 3D pictures – if you want to see them – you have to know me. Keyframe Magazine also wanted more shots that year and had me write a conference report.

When I got back from Los Angeles I cleared the dates for SIGGRAPH 2002 in San Antonio. Our university had just joined the New Media Consortium and my office had just been named the New Media Studio. San Antonio was a smaller but still a good.

In 2003 I was promoted to Creative Director of the university’s New Media Studio and am once again attended. In 2003 I became more than an observer as I had artwork in the gallery and gave a pedagogical sketch on my work with teaching art studio with a CD-ROM.

2004 was another busy year, I finished my Masters in Art Education and things at work were as busy as ever. Regretfully, I wasn’t able to attend the 2004 show – but I returned in 2005!

In 2005 the University dropped the word ‘studio’ from my title and I became Creative Director of New Media I also served as Chair of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of SIGGRAPH. I presented again in the educator’s program and for the first time someone referred to this site as a BLOG even though it is handcoded and I have been doing it since 1997. The conference was great and my girlfriend Jenny came along with me.

2006 has brought even more professional and personal changes. First – I married Jenny! So the trip to Boston will serve as a mini-honeymoon as well. I am still Creative Director of New Media at Case but for the new multimedia center I helped design ‘The Freedman Center’ and I work for the Library now instead of Instructional Technology. During the summer of 2005 I became the Virtual Reality Specialist (on a half time basis via special arrangement with Case) for the Cleveland Museum of Art to help them design develop content for their new Virtual Reality Theater. But wait there is more! In the Spring of 2006 I became Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Art History and Art at Case and taught Introduction to Multimedia Technology and was accepted into the PhD program in Art History and Museum Studies to investigate the intersection between virtual reality and art education. With all these changes I really wanted to participate in the conference and submitted several abstracts – to my surprise two were accepted. One on the design of the Freedman Center and the other on experiments in Virtual Reality I did with the museum. Should be a great trip and to make my life easier I WILL be using a blog service to post my pictures and entries but I will format them nice when I get back home.

As always I want to thank my work for sponsoring and supporting these endeavors. Thanks to Doug! And if you keep viewing this site – I will keep adding to it!