Well, I’m pretty damn jet-lagged but I’m here at least. I’ve uploaded a few early pictures, most interestingly from the experimental art section which is just plain bonkers. Robotic teddy bears, virtual fish, hologaphic displays (I liked that one a lot, but a photo wouldn’t do it justice), virtual video walls, it’s all there.
So far it’s been a bit of a mixture - I dropped in on the Blender BOF briefly and met Ton for the first time - I wouldn’t exactly class myself as a Blender user yet (I’ve barely touched it) but since I had a little time to kill I decided to go along and say well done on behalf of all the people in the Ogre community who use it. They showed the results of the Orange Project which was technically very impressive and a showcase for what Blender is capable of in terms of film, if a little bizarre. I think it’s on the Blender site and it’s worth a download.
I wasn’t sure totally what to expect in terms of the numbers of people, but the place is utterly heaving. The predominant trend appears to be film / tv people and researchers, which is unsurprising. I’ve spotted a few game developers (I’ve spotted Valve, Blue Fang and Blizzard so far), but they seem to be vastly outnumbered. I’ve also never seen so many Macs in one place at one time, they’re everywhere.
I’ve been to a few sessions so far, one on procedural creation of urban environments was about 50% interesting (2 of the presenters material was fascinating, the rest not so much so), the one on physically based reflectance was simultaneously very interesting and bewhildering as you had about 3 seconds to absorb the maths on each slide, and the one about ocean effects in some recent films was interesting just to see how many techniques are common to what they do in Renderman versus what a lot of realtime stuff is doing - just that they have a hell of a lot more time to play with, and fixed shots which means they can more easily make trade-offs.
On the downside the lcoation of the conference venue is a bit rubbish, there’s nowhere decent to eat for what seems like miles around so it’s a bit of a slog if you don’t want to pay for overpriced conference centre food; the conference centre itself is very impressive, they just should have perhaps put it near something else interesting. The abundance of people means huge lines for the popular things unless you get there early and it’s a bit chaotic. I also haven’t really made any Ogre-related contacts yet - even at the Blender user group, everyone was there about film rendering, and that’s been the overarching trend so far. It’s kind of intimidating in many ways - lots of people (and admittedly I’m not really a ‘lots of people’ kind of chap, where I come from 100 people in the same place is classed as a ‘horde’) who are either well into film effects production or high-end research - being just a regular guy who likes to make realtime graphics in his spare time, I do feel a little outclassed / out of place, more than I really expected. I guess not having met anyone I know at the conference yet makes it a little more awkward; and I’m just not a pushy enough kind of person (hey, I’m not American ;)) to butt into the conversations of complete strangers without an excuse, and those people I have spoken to so far haven’t been that interested in a real-time renderer.
We’ll have to see how the week goes on, particularly whether many people turn up for the BOF. I’ve dropped by the OGRE forums briefly and answered a few questions although I haven’t had time to read everything. I’m not sure how much time I’ll have so things will remain random for the rest of the week.