Tech-artists.org GDC 09 Guide


#1

With GDC less than a month away, we put together this guide for GDC attendees who are technical artists or interested in the trade.
[ul]
[li][jump=attend]Are you attending?[/jump]
[/li][li][jump=blog]TAO blogs GDC[/jump]
[/li][li][jump=prize]Prize Giveaway![/jump]
[/li][li][jump=recom]Recommended Sessions[/jump]
[/li][li][jump=category]Sessions by Category[/jump]
[/li][/ul]
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[anchor]attend[/anchor]
Are you attending?
The following community members are attending GDC this year (with links to speaker bio pages if available):
[ul]
[li]Chris Evans
[/li][li]Rob Galanakis
[/li][li]Seth Gibson
[/li][li]Jeff Hanna
[/li][li]Ross Patel
[/li][li]Ben Cloward (BioWare)
[/li][li]jeremyc (Red Storm)
[/li][li]Jason Parks (Sony Online)
[/li][li]Bronwen Grimes (Valve)
[/li][li]Drew (Drew Skillman, Double Fine)
[/li][li]adam (Adam Mechtley, Flashbang)
[/li][li]Lard (David Biggs, Torus Games)
[/li][li]KritterSG (Kritter Griffin, Blizzard)
[/li][li]bdeda (Ben Deda, Meggitt)
[/li][li]FSTTYMS (BJ, Prime Candidate (Recruiting))
[/li]
[/ul]

If you are attending are are not listed, please send me a PM so we all can meet up!
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[anchor]blog[/anchor]
TAO Blogs GDC

Various TAO members will be blogging GDC. Myself, Jeff Hanna, and Ben Cloward (and possibly more!) will be blogging on the TAO Blog.

You’ll also be able to get Ben’s blogging on his blog and mine on my site as well…

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[anchor]prize[/anchor]
tech-artists.org Prize Giveaway!

I will be handing out cards at GDC that will direct people to this website, where they can sign up for the site and enter a raffle code. Prizes are as follows:

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Blade 3D 6-month Hobbyist License (x2, $90 value each)
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Unity 2.x License ($199 value)
[hr]60%[/hr]
NVIDIA graphics card, model TBD with winner ($180 value)
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EA Games (x5, $60 value each)
[hr]60%[/hr]

A big thanks to both Digini/Blade3D and Unity Technologies for donating engine licenses!

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[anchor]recom[/anchor]
Recommended Sessions
Tech Artist Sessions
The following sessions are being hosted by TAO community members and focus specifically on the technical art trade:
[ul]
[li]Technical Art Techniques Panel: Tools and Pipeline (Friday, 2:30 - 4:30)
[/li][li]Technical Artist Roundtable, 3 sessions: (Wednesday, 2:30 to 3:30) (Thursday 3:00 - 4:00) (Friday, 10:30 - 11:30)
[/li][/ul]

Jeremy’s Recommendations
my focus at work is more towards animation than anything else, so these are some some of the other sessions i was considering:
[ul]
[li]Character Pathfinding and Animation: How to Make Them Work Together (Wednesday, 4:00pm — 5:00pm) - not sure what to expect from this one as it seems to be run by kynapse/autodesk
[/li][li]End Helmet Tyranny (Thursday, 4:30pm — 5:30pm) - facial animation talk - curious to see who the speaker is, as it hasn’t been announced on the website yet.
[/li][li]Dynamic Walking with Semi-Procedural Animation (Friday, 4:00pm — 5:00pm) - interesting looking talk about partially automating things like foot placement and run cycles. focus on the talk seems to be about preserving animators work while making it better, which i think is a fine line to walk.
[/li][li]Burned by Friendly Fire: Game Critics Rant (Friday, 10:30am — 11:30am) - these are never to be missed
[/li][li]The Brutal Art of Brütal Legend (Thursday, 4:30pm — 5:30pm) - just hoping to catch a glimpse of this game, because i’m pretty excited for it.
[/li][li]Authoring for Real-Time Tessellation and Displacement Mapping (Friday, 9:00am — 10:00am) - i don’t really know much of anything about real-time displacement mapping, so this will be an early morning introduction for me
[/li][/ul]

Rob’s Recommendations
These are my personal recommended sessions for technical artists (and likely my own TA relevant schedule, so no conflicts). This is only from Wednesday to Friday (ie, the main conference). If anyone else has their own recommendations, I’ll make a new list for those! It was hard to choose, since there are always those slots packed with TA goodness and then slots where there is nothing…:
[ul]
[li]Universal Character System in SAINTS ROW 2 (Wednesday 10:30-11:30)
[/li]Character creators and customization is a hot topic, and one which has more problems than solutions. Getting AAA visuals out of something where the user can heavily customize appearance is a constantly elevating challenge, and hopefully this session can provide some interesting experience and insight.
[li]Next-Gen Tech, but Last-Gen Looks? Tips to Make your Game Look Better - That Don’t Include Bloom and Motion Blur. (Wednesday 12-1)
[/li]It is always fun to ‘ooohhh’ and ‘aaahhh’ at the newest graphics demos, but implementing them into real pipelines and games is always a different story. This talk promises a much more sobering and practical look at improving visuals through graphics technology than most (“The focus will be on using graphics technology to achieve specific artistic goals, rather than showcasing the technology itself.”). Should be good, useful info for today’s games.
[li]Technical Artist Roundtable, (Wednesday, 2:30 to 3:30)
[/li]Meet and speak with other technical artists and discuss what is relevant to you. Jeff is a veteran moderator of this roundtable and they are always invaluable for technical artists as technical artists.
[li]The Tech Behind the Tools of Insomniac Games (Wednesday 4-5)
[/li]This talk is a high-level look at Insomniac’s tools. With Insomniac’s fast pace and reputation for quality, I expect to see something mindblowing that will make me reconsider everything I know about tools. These sorts of overview sessions can be, and often are, much more informative than the lower-level technical discussions, since they provide a more generally applicable type of knowledge.
[li]Illustrative Rendering of PRINCE OF PERSIA (Thursday 9-10)
[/li]I don’t think there is a developer who doesn’t like PoP’s rendering style. It is one of those things we’ve all discussed with other graphics guys at least once, trying to figure out how they did it. Well, now we’ll know!
[li]From Pipe Dream to Open World: The Terraforming of FAR CRY 2 (Thursday 1:30-2:30, Frank from Ubi Mtl recommended this talk to me)
[/li]From what I’ve heard of Far Cry 2’s technical pipeline and mechanics, this promises to be a very informative lecture. It seems every year we see technically and artistically awesome groundbreaking games from Ubisoft Montreal and it is always worthwhile to get whatever info you can out of them.
[li]Technical Artist Roundtable (Thursday 3:00 - 4:00)
[/li]Part deux.
[li]Advanced Autodesk Python Maya (Thursday 4:30-5:30, and given by an AD person, just be aware)
[/li]The only really relevant TA session in this timeslot, it is an advanced discussion, so Maya-Python guys are sure to benefit. Or you could go back to your hotel room early, because Thursday is party night.
[li]Technical Artist Roundtable (Friday, 10:30 - 11:30)
[/li]Engage in deep and meaningful discussion with dozens of hung-over technical artists! The frazzled nerves and upset stomachs are sure to yield plenty of cussing, and who knows what will be said about AD.
[li]Technical Art Techniques Panel: Tools and Pipeline (Friday, 2:30 - 4:30)
[/li]If you don’t attend this, you will be perma-banned from TAO. It doesn’t matter if you have a 6:05 flight home.
[/ul]
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[anchor]category[/anchor]
Sessions By Category
This is a pretty comprehensive list of relevant sessions to TA’s, divided by category and then listed by date/time. I’ve re-listed all sessions mentioned previously. If I’ve missed anything you think would be relevant, please post or PM and I’ll edit.

Rendering
[ul]
[li]Lighting with Purpose (Wednesday 10:30-11:30)
[/li][li]Next-Gen Tech, but Last-Gen Looks? Tips to Make your Game Look Better - That Don’t Include Bloom and Motion Blur. (Wednesday 12-1)
[/li][li]The Unique Lighting in MIRROR’S EDGE: Experiences with Illuminate Labs (Thursday 9-10, one person is from IL, just be aware)
[/li][li]The Rendering Technology of KILLZONE 2 (Thursday 9-10)
[/li][li]Illustrative Rendering of PRINCE OF PERSIA (Thursday 9-10)
[/li][li]Style in Rendering: The History and Technique Behind AFRO SAMURAI’s Look (Friday 10:30-11:30)
[/li][li]Rendering Techniques in GEARS OF WAR 2 (Friday 2:30-3:30)
[/li][/ul]

Rigging and Animation
[ul]
[li]Momentum vs. Character Animation (Wednesday 12-1)
[/li][li]Modular Procedural Rigging (Wednesday 2:30-3:30)
[/li][li]Self-Limiting Rigging Methodology Used on GOD OF WAR (Thursday 1:30-2:30)
[/li][li]Creating First Person Movement for MIRROR’S EDGE (Friday 10:30-11:30)
[/li][li]Non-Uniform Bone Scaling. From Art Pipeline to Real-Time Rendering (Friday 11:10-11:30)
[/li][/ul]

Tools and Pipeline
[ul]
[li]Universal Character System in SAINTS ROW 2 (Wednesday 10:30-11:30)
[/li][li]Guerrilla Tactics: KILLZONE’s Art Tools and Techniques (Wednesday 2:30-3:30)
[/li][li]The Tech Behind the Tools of Insomniac Games (Wednesday 4-5)
[/li][li]Inside the GEARS OF WAR 2 Character Modeling Pipeline (Wednesday 4-5)
[/li][li]From Pipe Dream to Open World: The Terraforming of FAR CRY 2 (Thursday 1:30-2:30)
[/li][li]Advanced Autodesk Python Maya (Thursday 4:30-5:30, and given by an AD person, just be aware)
[/li][li]Authoring for Real-Time Tessellation and Displacement Mapping (Friday 9-10)
[/li][li]Technical Art Techniques Panel: Tools and Pipeline (Friday, 2:30 - 4:30)
[/li][/ul]

Other
[ul]
[li]Autodesk Maya API Training (Monday and Tuesday)
[/li][li]Autodesk 3ds Max SDK Training (Monday and Tuesday)
[/li][li]Blowing Up the Outside World: Destruction Done the Next Gen Way (Wednesday 10:30-11:30)
[/li][li]Technical Artist Roundtable, (Wednesday, 2:30 to 3:30)
[/li][li]Technical Artist Roundtable (Thursday 3:00 - 4:00)
[/li][li]Technical Artist Roundtable (Friday, 10:30 - 11:30)
[/li][/ul]

*Just a note about some of the “Sponsored Sessions.” I didn’t include many of these as I don’t find much value in them except if you are directly interested in the technologies being covered (and even then, a personal demo is of much more use). Some of these are relevant to TA’s. There are sessions for SoftImage, HumanIK, Kynapse, Morpheme, and others.


#2

i recently had a conversation with a member of the GDC advisory board & they mentioned how they were forecasting a lower than usual attendee turnout this year due to the economic climate. i had to agree with him, with a good portion of the people i know in the industry being laid off or currently still unemployed this year - individuals (and companies) just can’t afford the cost. i know i’m not going :frowning:

all the sessions look amazing & i’m starting to feel a little bummed i’ll have to miss out. so i beg the members of our happy community that ARE going - take really good notes & share them here!

i’m really looking forward to hearing about lessons learned!


#3

great idea, i had my own little version of this list but yours is compiled much nicer. i will be in attendance.

my focus at work is more towards animation than anything else, so these are some some of the other sessions i was considering:
[ul]
[li]Character Pathfinding and Animation: How to Make Them Work Together (Wednesday, 4:00pm — 5:00pm) - not sure what to expect from this one as it seems to be run by kynapse/autodesk
[/li][li]End Helmet Tyranny (Thursday, 4:30pm — 5:30pm) - facial animation talk - curious to see who the speaker is, as it hasn’t been announced on the website yet.
[/li][li]Dynamic Walking with Semi-Procedural Animation (Friday, 4:00pm — 5:00pm) - interesting looking talk about partially automating things like foot placement and run cycles. focus on the talk seems to be about preserving animators work while making it better, which i think is a fine line to walk.
[/li][li]Burned by Friendly Fire: Game Critics Rant (Friday, 10:30am — 11:30am) - these are never to be missed
[/li][li]The Brutal Art of Brütal Legend (Thursday, 4:30pm — 5:30pm) - just hoping to catch a glimpse of this game, because i’m pretty excited for it.
[/li][li]Authoring for Real-Time Tessellation and Displacement Mapping (Friday, 9:00am — 10:00am) - i don’t really know much of anything about real-time displacement mapping, so this will be an early morning introduction for me
[/li][/ul]


#4

See you at your talk!

BTW - I stalled making Friday night flight reservations just in case your guys talk was last on Friday. Sure enough! So late night flight for me, but it’ll be worth it.


#5

I too am in the group that would love to go but can’t. Please, please, please, take awesome notes and we can all discuss things back here.


#6

I’ll be updating my blog daily with reports on the classes I attend. You’ll be able to read my notes here:

http://bcloward.blogspot.com


#7

Brilliant! Thanks, Ben.

I definitely agree about Rob’s choices, although the addition of Killzone 2 takeaways would be the icing on the cake =)


#8

I’ll be there if anyone needs to talk about changes in their career…


#9

[QUOTE=bcloward;2656]I’ll be updating my blog daily with reports on the classes I attend. You’ll be able to read my notes here:

http://bcloward.blogspot.com[/QUOTE]

Good stuff Ben, These kind of blog updates are most appreciated for those of us that can’t be there.

I’m sure someone from my company will be going, not me though :frowning:


#10

Updated the first post with the prizes, more members who will be attending, and that a handful of us will be blogging the event as well. And I added a couple links in the ‘other’ category for free Autodesk Maya API and 3ds Max SDK training on Monday and Tuesday. Useful stuff for those of us who will be there during the usually dead Monday/Tuesday (thanks to Lard and Jeff for pointing these out).

On another note, when is a good time to meet up for you all if you’d like to go out formally? There is a Polycount meetup on Thursday at 7, we can either piggyback, or do something Wednesday night? Also I’ll be sending out my cell number to attendees to coordinate things (its also right on my website in case you forget it)


#11

i have a little bit going on both wednesday and thursday night, but plan on hopping around. i’m not on polycount so i’m not familiar with what they’ve got going on, but i’m pretty much open to meet at any point. just let me know when and where, and how to acquire an invite if i need it =).


#12

I’m booked up on Wednesday night but I’d love to hook up with you guys on Thursday. Tell me where.


#13

http://tech-artists.org/blog/
First blog post up!


#14

BTW, for anyone that is interested, I’ll be at the Polycount meetup. Details here: http://boards.polycount.net/showpost.php?p=921715&postcount=174

Also we will be going out after our Panel on Friday afternoon if anyone is interested. Will catch up on teh blogging tomorrow morning, for anyone reading it (well in a few hours, as the case may be).


#15

I really enjoyed the Polycount Meetup last night! Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Rob.

I’ve blogged the first two days so far. I’ll probably blog the sessions I attend today tomorrow morning since my flight home will get me in pretty late. I hope you enjoy it - and please let me know if there’s anything you’d like more details on. I generally take a lot more notes and just make a brief summary of things in the blog entries.

I’m really looking forward to the tech art panel this afternoon. It looks like I’ll be able to catch all but the last half hour - based on my flight schedule. Good luck with it Chris, Jeff, Rob, Seth, and Ross!


#16

I enjoyed the Wednesday Tech-Art roundtable. It was very cool to be able to meet some of you in person. Thanks to Jeff’s powers of persuasion… I’ll be bothering you all (I mean posting) a lot more on here!


#17

Hiya :slight_smile: ~ it was nice meeting you guys. It was a bit of sadness that I had to leave fairly early on Friday and had to duck out early from that last tech art class thingo. Thanks again for stuff and I really enjoyed the round table :slight_smile: and hopefully will see some of you guys and gals again sometime in the future.


#18

Thanks for everyone’s contribution in the roundtables. It definitely gave me more insight on the expectations and duties of being a technical artist.


#19

hey guys, just wanted to say a belated thanks. it was cool to meet everyone that i met. i picked up a lot about how studios with established tech art teams work, and got a lot of good insight as to how tech artists at other studios operate. my favorite takeaway from gdc thus far has been the stomach virus that kept me in bed for the past 2 days. <3 gdc!!


#20

Thank you for informative TA roundtable at GDC09. It was very useful for me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the TA panel on the last day of GDC09. According to this article:http://tech-artists.org/blog/?p=27,

this TA panel seemed to be videotaped. So I’m looking forward to releasing the movie in public. Even though I can’t see the movie, I want to get the presentation-slide of TAO panel at GDC09.

Are there anyone who is familiar with my question??