SIGGRAPH, one of the biggest computer graphics conferences in the world was set to come back this year in Washington DC. But, with the ongoing global pandemic it had to quickly change into a virtual conference. And while some had their reservations on how such a massive event would translate to a digitally held conference, we were pleasantly surprised with how the SIGGRAPH team pulled it off! While we definitely missed the social and networking aspects of past years, we were able to listen to various speakers without getting lost in a conference hall! Here are some of our takeaways from SIGGRAPH 2020.


1. Scaling up projects with AWS virtual workstations

3D studios can’t afford to ignore AWS’ virtual workstations anymore. These workstations help 3D developers and 3D teams scale up their talent and productivity by taking advantage of global cloud infrastructures. With these virtual workstations, 3D studios are able to increase their hardware needs when a new big project comes along without making any long-term hardware purchasing commitments.

Along with these virtual workstations, AWS also provides render services on the cloud. While most 3D studious have rendering capacity on and off-site, they’re squeezed by high render times. AWS render services let you integrate your rendering pipeline with AWS, letting users scale rendering workloads up to thousands of cores per minute. For 3D studios, this means having the flexibility to scale up rendering capacity to meet pressing timelines and scale down when they’re no longer needed. AWS’s main competitor, Google’s Zync Render, is also shutting down in 2021, making space for AWS.


2. The future of teamwork with Nvidia’s Omniverse

Nvidia’s Omniverse Platform is what impressed us the most this year at SIGGRAPH. So, what exactly is the Omniverse? It is a powerful multi-GPU real-time simulation and collaboration platform that is going to be a game-changer for 3D teams and studios worldwide. The Omniverse promises to fix what many 3D teams have been struggling with for years: having a version control software that works across file formats, software, and most importantly, across different teams.

During one of Nvidia’s sessions at SIGGRAPH, Jeff Kember showed a truly impressive workflow powered by the Omniverse. He showed three team members working on the same project simultaneously, each using different software. All the changes made across the three teams, and their respective software and file formats showed up in real-time in Nvidia’s Omniverse platform. By using Pixar’s USD file format – which will soon replace FBX – one team member could be working on a Sketchup file from a coffee shop in London, and another working on a UE4 file from their office in Vancouver, and all updates would synchronize in Omniverse! This bi-directional connection and functionality between software, file formats, and teams will significantly improve 3D pipelines across the globe.


3. ZBrush is paving the way for other 3D software

Popular 3D software like Maya, Blender, and Cinema 4D have been around since the 90’s. And although they’re updated regularly, the lifecycle of the toolsets in these software are relatively long. On the other hand, ZBrush, known as the most advanced 3D sculpting software, is loved by many users because of its wide range of tools that allow for a wide degree of design freedom. The speakers at the “State of Animation Tools in the Industry” session expressed that ZBrush is getting ahead of the game by regularly adding new toolsets and enabling users to create detailed models with ease. In our opinion, ZBrush has been able to achieve this success by continuing to be in tune with its users’ needs and automating pipelines to make their job easier.


Exciting times ahead

While SIGGRAPH 2020 looked a lot different this year, it was still an incredible success in bringing industry leaders, experts, and enthusiasts together to discuss the biggest trends in computer graphics. We quickly realized that even though we can’t meet our fellow colleagues in person, the spirit of the industry is very much alive and forging forward with bigger-than-ever ideas and innovations. We’re excited for everything to come in the year ahead and hope to see you again at SIGGRAPH 2021!