Wednesday, 30 September 2015

SIGGRAPH Los Angeles 2015

Thursday 6th August

This year SIGGRAPH was in LA and since I was accepted as a team leader it meant I had to be there a few days before the conference started. I was also provided with accommodation for the duration of the conference. It was a long flight and I arrived in LA around lunchtime, but thanks to LA traffic I only reached the hotel in the late afternoon. Below are some pictures of the hotel we were staying at.

Once I got to the hotel there were a few of the other team leaders who had arrived, all of us were hungry so we decided to go out and find somewhere to eat. We eventually found a nice Thai restaurant that didn't have an hour wait. We didn't do anything else that evening since we had an early start the next day and most of us were pretty tired.

Friday 7th August

It was a 7am start for breakfast, which we had in the hotel before we went off to the convention centre to start our Team Leader training. 
 The day pretty much consisted of us playing a few bonding games so we could get to know each other and getting a lot of information about what would be going on during the conference, what our part in it would be and also getting a tour of the convention centre (which was massive!)

After we got through the day we were taken out for dinner by the SVSC who run the student volunteer program. Dinner was a three course meal but I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures of it.

Saturday 8th August and during the conference

This was the first day that I had shifts. We were each given clip boards that had the names of the student volunteers we had on shift through out the day. Everyone had another team leader that they were working with and each of us had a different venue. I had E-tech and my partner Tales had Studio. At each venue it worked differently and throughout the conference we each learnt how to manage our venues in our own ways that worked, Tales and I had the largest areas and the largest number of SV's for each shift, I had 27 and Tales had 21. Which meant we found it really difficult to give each other breaks. We just never had any time where we weren't needed. So most days I didn't get a lunch break until 6-7pm when the conference was closed for the day. I didn't see any of the conference except for what was in E-tech because I didn't have any time to go to the talks. I know it must sound like being a team leader was awful because you work such long hours and no breaks but it really depended on which area you got some of the team leaders got to see all the talks they wanted to. I did request to be place in either Studio or E-tech, I did not realize how difficult E-tech would be but I definitely don't regret it, even though I didn't get to see the conference, I experienced it in a different way and the group of team leaders, after spending so much time with each other and collectively working so hard to get the conference to run smoothly we all because really close.

My partner Tales
I forgot to take a lot of pictures during the conference but there was this massive skull in E-tech that was showing projection mapping. What was displayed on the skull changed every few minutes and then 3 times a day there was a show with a lot of lights and music. I couldn't take many pictures but I did find a short clip on YouTube that somebody posted of the skull.

There were quite a few amazing things in E-tech this year. There was a spider-man simulation with the oculus, where you could jump across buildings, shoot a web out of your right arm and swing around. It was quite hard and a bit disorientating especially if you looked down. I almost fell over a few times when I tried it. There were also a few contributors that were playing around with hologram technology. One hologram was done with sound waves so if it went over your hand you could feel it. There was another one that was interactive and you could speak to it and ask it questions and it would answer you back. If it didn't know the answer to your question it would advise you to ask it something it did know the answer to and give you an example. There was a guitar that when you plucked the strings they made patterns or pictures and there were a number of pictures you could chose for it to make. 

I did go out pretty much every night but most of my nights out were pretty tame compared to last year as I was very aware that I had to be up at 6am and I was pretty tired. Again I didn't take many pictures, I was really bad at taking pictures on this trip. There was one big night out where I only got an hours sleep that night. It was the chapters party and it was loads of fun. I had far to many shots and after the club closed a few of us went to ihop and ate our body weight in pancakes. It was amazing and it helped to sober me up for the conference which started in a few hours. The next day happened to be the busiest and longest day of the conference, I had an extra two shift changes which was a nightmare and pretty much all my SV's had back to back shifts which meant they either came late to me or I had to let them off early. It was a bad day, but somehow managed to run smoothly. 

On the last day of the conference we took our team leader group picture we did a few silly ones and a few serious ones. The last day was really sad there were a few of us that were staying a few days after the conference and sharing an apartment but a lot of us were leaving the next day. On the last day I managed to get half an hour where I went around the exhibition floor and the job fair before it closed. 

I did get a teapot even though I didn't have time to go stand in the queue. I was really lucky and got one of the special edition teapots from the Pixar Renderman party. I didn't go to the party as it started before the conference was finished for the day, but I did meet a random guy who gave me his teapot because he didn't want it. The special edition one is blue and it glows in the dark! I did try to take a picture of it glowing in the dark but it didn't work. 

since it was the last night we were invited to a party for all the committee members it was a great party for networking and I sent most of the evening making contacts and saying goodbye to everyone. 

Friday 14th After the conference 

At first we had planned on going to Disneyland but since we had to move from the hotel to the apartment and we wanted to catch up on some sleep we decided it wasn't worth it. Instead we went to the USC for their open house. 

It was really amazing we only got a few hours there but they had loads of gadgets that did amazing things. The interactive hologram that was in the E-tech was at the USC as well and they were giving a presentation on how it worked and it's limitations and it was really interesting. 

I don't know if everyone remember that dress that caused went viral because people saw it as different colours. Well I got to see it and it is blue, but I have a video of it changing colour. Even though it changes colour I still see it as blue and then light blue. 

So after we went to the apartment after to drop off our stuff and see what it looked like. As soon as we got there two of us fell asleep straight away. We decided to get everyone who was left in LA to go out for Korean BBQ which ended up being about 20 of us. Korean BBQ was amazing I really wish we had it in England. Everyone orders from the same menu and you get a selection of meats to chose from, salad comes free with the meal. It's all you can eat and you cook it yourself at the table.  

Saturday 15th 

I really wanted to go to the beach the weather was amazing and I though it would be really nice. In the end though only Natalie and I went to the beach we got an Uber down to Venice beach and just spent a few hours laying in the sun. The others then messaged us and we had been invited down Irvine to visit one of the team leaders that lived there. She lived near a private beach so we decided to head down to her. Irvine is in Orange county so we had to get the train from LA which took an hour. That evening we went to Korean BBQ again, this time at a different place and with different people. We had a few people come back to our apartment afterwards and we played a few drinking games. 

Sunday 16th

We decided to go to Hollywood boulevard and have a look around. I took loads of pictures of the stars but the best one was definitely Godzilla's.  

This is where the Oscars are held.

This is the closest I got the Hollywood sign. There were a few people who took the day to hike up to it but we decided on a bit more of a relaxed day.

Monday 17th 

It was the last day in our apartment and also the day where four of us were going to watch the live taping of Conan. It was at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank and it was amazing. There was quite a long walk from where we registered to where the studio they were filming in was. There was one member of our group that was slightly disabled so was unable to walk that distance, which meant we were driven down there, and since we were driven we got a small private tour of the studios. I've always loved Warner Brothers because I was obsessed with Scooby Doo and Loony Toons as a kid, but after visiting the studios they are my favourite. Everyone there was so nice, the studios were amazing and I'd love to go back there again and get a proper studio tour.

When it was time to go inside we were seated and then we enjoyed the show. It was really good, Patrick Stewart was one of the guests, and there was a fake Donald Trump that took over and guest hosted the first part of the show. I did end up on TV but I'm not posting the clip because I look like a goof ball.

Since we left the apartment we had to go somewhere else to spend the night. I was the only one who was staying till the Wednesday and the other two were leaving the next day. I had organised to stay with Casey who lived in Irvine until the Wednesday. Casey and I just spent the next two days looking around Irvine, and going down to Newport Beach. Then on the Wednesday I flew back to England after an amazing two weeks. I really enjoyed this SIGGRAPH and I recommend applying and if you go definitely spend an extra few days afterwards.