The Perks of Being a Student Volunteer at SIGGRAPH 2014 - The Needy Animator

The Perks of Being a Student Volunteer at SIGGRAPH 2014

Siggraph Student Volunteer 2014 Photo by Josh Corken

If you are an animator or in a related field, and you want to bump shoulders with specialists from PIXAR, DREAMWORKS, SONY, etc…the one event you should definitely know or find out about is SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques). 

So why would you want to become a student volunteer at SIGGRAPH? Now, you might not know what SIGGRAPH is and I would have a hard time explaining everything it encompasses but what I want you to do is get excited at the possibilities of what benefits are in it for you as a student volunteer. Photo by Josh Corken of the student volunteers and SIGGRAPH chair and committee. I’m the little tiny cyan on the furthest right 😀



SIGGRAPH 2014 Vancouver Dice Tsutsumi

At SIGGRAPH with Dice Tsutsumi: Damkeeper Director

The obvious number one reason is networking. With over 20,000 attendees from the industry, you will be bumping left and right into animators, artists, and specialist from PIXAR, DREAMWORKS, SONY, ILM, LAIKA from your dream companies.

Not only this, as a student volunteer, often times I find people from the industry coming up to talk to me because they too were student volunteers before or more. There is also a special portfolio review you can sign up for and student-volunteer only talks. This year’s talk included professionals from Dreamworks, Sony Imageworks, Autodesk, etc.

Most of all, you get to meet around 300 other student volunteers with similar passion who are wonderfully charming. People from all around the world and different schools!

Here’s me fangirling over one of my artist idol Dice Tsutsumi who worked on Monster’s University, Ice Age Toy Story 3’s  as color designer/director. The recent short he directed with Robert Kondo, The Damkeeper has also been featured in various prestigious film festivals and the color is gorgeous.



SIGGRAPH is definitely not light on the wallet as a week’s full conference access pass for a non-member could ring up to around $1300 (or $500 for students, which is still quite a sum not including transportation/accomodation expenses). A student volunteer gets a full conference access pass for free and also a ticket to a session of the Computer Animation Festival, which in itself is usually an extra $50 to see all the best selection of animations of the year. This year included a special session with commentary on How to Train your Dragon 2 and an early preview of the Disney Short: The Feast, which I absolutely adored.


My Free Google Cardboard

My Free Google Cardboard


A lot of the selected technology in the studios introduced each year are things that have never been seen before elsewhere and the latest in 3D printing technology, virtual reality, and implementations of the Oculus Rift in various ways. You get to experience them right there at the studio and E-TECH exhibition as well as detailed explanations if you are into the technicalities of the productions of the LEGO MOVIE, BOXTROLL, or the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

I also got a free Google Cardboard, which I tried out with the Rollercoaster App at home with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and while trippy, was quite an experience.



At SIGGRAPH, it seems like people are giving out freebies left and right. From the very cool Intel coins, the coveted PIXAR TEAPOT (exclusive to SIGGRAPH only 3000 given out each conference), BIG HERO 6 POSTERS, to free 30 day accesses to exclusive softwares or digital tutors access. Either ways, leave space in your suitcase as one trip around the exhibition hall and you’re guaranteed an armful of goodies. Here’s my happiness: SIGGRAPH 2013 and 2014 Renderman Teapot and a photo with Dylan Sisson who designed them (as well as a badly cut off pic of Dean Tina from SCAD-sorry Tina :_(, and Paul, a cool guy I’ve met a couple of time responsible for crowd simulation for Monster U)

SIGGRAPH teapot 2014

SIGGRAPH teapot 2014

SIGGRAPH renderman teapot 2014

Renderman Teapot 2014

Badly Taken Selfie with Dylan Sisson

With Dylan Sisson









Did I mention portfolio reviews and parties? This year there was a Disney dedicated interview room and time slots reserved just for student volunteers. Not only that, there is an s3R3 review, where student volunteers can sign up to have a 1-on-1 review with a professional from the industry. Last year, my review was with an animator from Dreamworks and I got a lot of great feedback I was able to incorporate into improving my portfolio. Not only this, student volunteers instantly get a 1 year complimentary membership with ACM and that includes access to a huge collection of scholarly and technological paper: great for research papers and thesis!  There are also raffles at the end of the week with prizes from Toothless plusies, signed FROZEN/Peabody and Sherman/HTTYD2 artbooks, NVDIA card, Expose artbooks, Houdini Licenses, and GoPro Camera.

5. A Renewed Sense of Purpose

Personally, I find the best part of SIGGRAPH to be a renewed sense of purpose and rekindling my passion every year. To be able to be a part of this exciting industry makes me want to produce better work and strive for a personal betterment of the self. The excitement is contagious and makes me wish everyone could have the same chance I do. To know of an event is one thing but to be there in the moment, is a fusion of energy.

This first article on SIGGRAPH here is just a quick intro as the variety of things SIGGRAPH covers can’t be summed up in just one article and you can pretty much get this information on the SIGGRAPH websiteIf you are interested in knowing more about the conference or click here to learn about how to apply to become a student volunteer for SIGGRAPH conference, LA in 2015.


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