Siggraph Asia 2023 that concluded on 15 December at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) marked a tremendous success in shaping the future of animation, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and related Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques technologies.

The event was organised by Koelnmesse and ACM Siggraph, a special interest group within the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). With 5,690 attendees hailing from more than 40 countries and featuring 30 exhibiting brands, the conference and exhibition exemplified the industry’s vibrant dynamism and rapid growth.

“As the curtain falls on Siggraph Asia 2023 in Sydney, it stands out as a brilliant success. Thousands of visitors from over 40 countries experienced innovation at its peak, with over 30 leading brands and impactful presentations setting new standards in computer graphics and interactive techniques,” said Siggraph Asia 2023 conference chair June Kim. “From keynotes by luminaries to groundbreaking showcases and awards, we’re grateful for the support of computer, animation, and tech visionaries. Special thanks to our partners in Sydney for being tremendous hosts.”

Key highlights and achievements

The Siggraph Asia 2023 Conference and Exhibition represented a vibrant showcase of the latest developments in the Computer Graphics (CG) arena. Luminaries Jun Murai of Keio University and Joe Letteri from Wētā FX, shared invaluable insights with their keynote presentations on “Internet Civilisation: A New Frontier for Humankind” and “Innovation & Avatar: The Way of Water” respectively.

Featured sessions included speakers like Rob Bredow of Industrial Light & Magic, and Paul Debevec of Netflix, who offered unique perspectives, touching on themes ranging from the synergy of art and technology to the frontiers of virtual production. Forward-thinking panels delved into the latest trends in Character Animation, VFX, Digital Humans, and the future of computer animation tools.

The Conference also took a compelling look into how a hybrid society is emerging via extended reality by exploring how with Digital Twin, artefacts, space, and humans can be replicated in a digital form. One of the highlights was a real-time demonstration that demonstrated how digital twin, big data visualisation, and extended reality can connect from Sydney to other cities via super speed connectivity.

Much conversation at Siggraph Asia 2023 revolved around Generative AI, a topic that was brought up at numerous sessions. These sessions delved into the intricacies and applications of Generative AI, providing valuable insights, and expanding the overall understanding of this cutting-edge technology.

Fostering future talent and education

The theme “Connecting Stories” rang true among participants, who described how important it was to convey how their technology was being applied in an everyday sense- whether it be to help visually disabled people navigate, or an apparatus that uses sign language. Students, researchers, and academics mingled with those from industry, sharing their ideas and work in progress.

Attracting newcomers to the industry is important, and so Siggraph Asia sought ways to proactively interest the young. Another notable highlight of the conference was the Computer Animation Festival, which featured an eclectic mix of 38 films, ranging from narrative shorts to scientific visualisations. It included works from the inaugural Junior Computer Animation Festival, which brought to life the event’s commitment to fostering new talent.

Technological showcases and inclusivity

Siggraph Asia 2023 was a technological extravaganza. Emerging technologies were showcased that are set to redefine the industry. Over 900 Technical Papers were submitted to Siggraph Asia 2023 and juried by more than 180 experts and over 3,000 anonymous peer reviewers.

Courses and Talks sessions, particularly those focusing on the transformative potential of artificial intelligence on the tools the industry uses, were a window into the future of the industry. New tools offer potential in lowering the barriers to entry for more artists and designers to join the computer graphics and interactive techniques sectors.

Inspiring panel discussions underscored how Siggraph Asia places emphasis on creating a neuro-diverse and inclusive community, providing a nurturing environment for discussions and learning as to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

Recognising excellence

Outstanding individuals and teams were celebrated through multiple esteemed awards programs (refer to this link). Among the notable honorees, Australian artist Paul Brown received the prestigious Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art from Siggraph ACM and Singaporean Associate Professor Yong Tsui (YT) Lee was honoured with the Siggraph ACM Outstanding Service Award in recognition of his nurturing and fostering of the Siggraph Asia community and Conference.

An intriguing exhibition

Visitors to the exhibition left with their imaginations ignited by the boundless potential of technology. From healthcare and transportation to the vast realms of space and entertainment, technology was showcased as a powerful force bringing visualisation and interactive tools into our everyday lives. Prominent industry leaders, including Forum8, Adobe, NVIDIA, Industrial Light and Magic, MSI, Vicon and Wētā FX exhibited, offering glimpses into the future of animation & visual effects, augmented reality, cloud-based systems, computer graphics, interactive & innovative technologies, gaming technologies, imaging, virtual reality & simulation, visualisation and much more.

People attended Demoscene to see the very cutting-edge of computer demonstrations and the experience hall to participate in an immersive art gallery, an extended reality (XR) program, and witness the emergence of the very latest emerging technologies for CGI, special effects (FX) and animation.

Adding to the allure of the event were the exhilarating exhibitor talks, featuring influential speakers from Adobe, Canva, DNEG, Foundry, Gigabyte, NVIDIA, and Pixar Animation Studios, who enthralled and inspired audiences with the latest advancements in technology and the innovative techniques that are shaping the future.

To Tokyo and beyond

As Siggraph Asia 2023 drew to a close, it left an indelible mark on Sydney participants, many of whom had never attended a SIGGRAPH event prior. Hosting the event in Sydney is a reflection of the nation’s growing importance in the global computer graphics industry. The local surge in activities in both 2D and 3D animation work is evident in the increasing demand for artists and expansion of local production companies in these fields, and insofar as local companies are expanding their capabilities and adopting new technologies for series work.

Kim encapsulated the spirit of the event, expressing gratitude to the supporters and looking forward to the next edition in Tokyo: “I am deeply grateful to all the local and international supporters for making this edition in Sydney exceptionally memorable and successful. We eagerly anticipate the next gathering in Tokyo in early December 2024!”