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July 30, 2006

Day 1

Filed under SIGGRAPH

When I arrived at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) this morning, I was reminded of why it is a good idea to pay the extra $10 and have your credentials mailed to you...the line to pick up your credentials was over 2 blocks long and not moving! You have to have your credentials in order to get in to the classes. Registration opens at 8am and classes start at 8:30am...a lot of people missed the first few hours because of that line!

I walked past a window into the show floor, which opens on Tuesday. It looks *way* small. I remember back in '97, it took me two days to see everything on the show floor. This year it looks like 2 hours will be plenty.

My first class was Interactive Ray Tracing. When you see interactive 3D graphics (video games) on a computer, they all use a technique called Z-buffering. Ray tracing is an alternative approach to 3D graphics that works by tracing the path light travels from a light source to your eye. It gives much more realistic results, but it is *very* time consuming. Computers are getting so fast that the idea of using ray tracing for video games is gaining steam suddenly. We still have a ways to go, but this could radically change how we work with 3d graphics. Adding extra CPU's (cores) really helps ray tracing.

I skipped the second half of ray tracing to see a class called "Procedural Modeling of Urban Environments." The idea is to create some simple rules (buildings have floors, floors have windows, top floors have a roof, bottom floors have doors), and then let the computer create models of buildings for you. I am currently building the Bank of America building, and it is taking a lot of time. With this approach, you could build a very detailed city very quickly. The city would not look exactly like the real thing, because it is using rules to build a building, not blueprints. It is an interesting idea and I can see it saving a lot of time for flight sims and games.

I picked up a cool book at the SIGGRAPH bookstore. It is called "The Elements of C++ Style." It a small book that talks about how to format your code so that other people can read it. I've just glanced over it, and I agree with their sentiments. Most of the things they write about I've learned over 16 years (has it been that long?) of writing and reading code...it would have been nice to have this from the start because no class teaches this. This is one of those books that I wish my team lead would hand to each member of our group. It will help make your code more readable and look less like a ransom note.

I have lots of pictures and some very cool videos from the Emerging Technologies display. I'll post those when I get home.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 30, 2006 7:44 PM.

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