One of the largest and most incredible conventions is going to open its doors in a couple of days! SIGGRAPH 2018 has an abundance of amazing experiences, innovations, technologies, courses, talks, vfx breakdowns and so much more. As you scroll and scroll and scroll through all the wonder that the convention has to offer, a participant like yourself, might just ask…
How am I going to survive this?
I asked that exact question when I first stepped into my first SIGGRAPH in 2008, wishing that I had a survival guide. I was awed by the thousands of visitors that traveled from all parts of the world to love and admire the same things I love and admire…. animation, tech and art! Questions screamed through my head as I wandered aimlessly, such as: Where do I start? What if I miss something cool?
Don’t worry! I’m here to help! Now that I’ve experienced over 10 SIGGRAPH conventions and currently participating in the Pavilion Experience as a subcommittee member, I have tips and insights into not only surviving but thoroughly enjoying SIGGRAPH 2018: Generations.
By the way, this essential survival guide can help you in any convention, including GDC, CTN and other wonderful places. :)
1) Create a Schedule (But Leave It Flexible)
SIGGRAPH is famous for its amazing content. It is filled with talks, classes, group meetings, and other events. Creating a schedule, hopefully a few days before the convention, will help you make decisions and figure out how far each event is. Try to be flexible! Things will pop up! You’ll see a friend who wants to chat or get a drink. You’ll suddenly find yourself at a gallery, admiring the great work. You might want to take a break and watch a show. Whatever floats your boat, just enjoy the ride.
But how do you keep your schedule current? What if things change? Lucky for us, SIGGRAPH is full of smart people! They created an app (you can download it now in the app store), where all their courses and activities are taking place. It will give you information about where everything is located and when. It’s fantastic! Check it out! I’ve already installed it.
2) You Will Miss It (and That's OK)
As you work on your schedule, you’ll just have to accept it. SIGGRAPH has so much to see that it will be hard to keep up. Unless you are Hermione with her fancy jewelry, it is guaranteed that you will miss some great talk, a showing at the other side of the building, the baby giraffe outside, and other cool things. That’s ok! As I mentioned before, SIGGRAPH is filled with smart people and they recently made available a fancy USB with all their content. I encourage you to invest and purchase the USB SIGGRAPH provides. They will record all of their sessions/talks, and once the convention is over, you will receive a package. Everything you missed will be in the USB. I bought one last year and love it! So, don’t worry if your favorite company is doing a talk, and your second favorite company is on another floor. You’ll watch them later, so enjoy the convention!
3) Get There Early
Getting to the convention early is important. You don’t want to waste half of your first day at the convention, waiting for a badge. Get there early and you’ll have more time to absorb your surroundings and situate yourself. Not only that, you’ll be able to get some free swag, run to your favorite company and speak to a recruiter that is not exhausted after a long day, sign up for VIP viewings and other perks. Seriously, it’s worth it. Get up a bit early and have fun!
4) Go to Open Ceremonies
Like every convention, SIGGRAPH likes to start off their event with an Open Ceremony and Awards Presentation. You need to be there! They will show you what to expect in the next few days. From trailers, to talks, to awards and surprises, you don’t want to miss this event. This will start your convention out with a bang!
The Open Ceremony and Awards Presentation for this year’s SIGGRAPH is:
Monday August 13, 9-10:30 am.
Get there early so you can get a good seat!
5) Charge your phones and bring chargers
Our phones are capable of amazing things. Check the SIGGRAPH app, take pictures, text and call our friends, and other handy uses. That also means your battery is going to be working over time. Make sure to charge your phone and bring a charger!
I recommend the Anker PowerCore 5000 External Battery. It is only $20, small, portable and has enough juice for extra charges throughout the day. You’ll definitely find this in my belongings!
6) Ask Questions
SIGGRAPH is prepared to help lost visitors, both new and veterans. Feeling lost is part of the convention experience! Therefore you will see volunteers everywhere. So if you are lost, look for the friendly student volunteer with the SIGGRAPH shirt and ask! These kids have been trained, and are thrilled to be assisting. They are there to not only help, but to make connections. They want to talk to people, so feel free to walk around and ask.
I hope this guide help you through one of the best conventions in our industry! SIGGRAPH can be overwhelming with the thousands of people milling around and the hundreds of activities to experience. Take it one moment at a time, and enjoy the trip. It’s a great space with like minded people who share similar passions as yourself. You’ll definitely have someone to talk to at every corner. Including me!
Enjoy and say “Hi!” if you see me!
Aka Academic Phoenix