Editor’s note: Every year film and computer buffs of all ages gather to see the very latest in computer graphics wizardry. The Princeton Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, chaired by software engineer Dennis Mancl, hosts a computer graphics film festival where computer graphics experts provide commentary on a series of short movies that demonstrate the latest in graphics capabilities. Mancl, a former member of the technical staff at Alcatel-Lucent in Murray Hill, is now an independent software expert and consultant. Below, Mancl describes the film festival and its history.
The Computer Graphics Film Show has been an annual event for Princeton ACM, a local chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. ACM is a worldwide organization that publishes magazines and journals, and it has 37 special interest groups that sponsor 170 annual conferences and workshops. ACM also has more than 700 local chapters run by volunteers.
Princeton ACM was founded by a group of Princeton-area computer professionals in 1980, with the goal of setting up lectures and tutorials to learn more about new advances in the field and to meet local technology experts. Princeton ACM organized monthly meetings, with speakers on various technical topics.
One of ACM’s most active special interest groups — SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Graphics) — holds an annual graphics research conference every summer, after which organizers combine some of the most interesting exhibits into a short film. The SIGGRAPH “film show” is a demonstration of the current state of the art in computer-based animation from graphics researchers and the film industry.
This year’s show will be held Thursday, October 20, at 8:15 p.m. at the Princeton University Friend Center, Room 101, with a special event beginning at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.princetonacm.org or call 908-285-1066.
Beginning in 1980, Princeton ACM has included a “film show presentation” as one of its regular monthly meetings. The speaker is always a local computer graphics expert who prepares the presentation by selecting an hour of film clips from the SIGGRAPH material. The speaker also provides running commentary during the presentation of the film clips.
The Computer Graphics Film Show is a unique meeting for Princeton ACM. The meeting attracts a young audience — many people come with their children or grandchildren. Every year is different because the materials are taken from the latest SIGGRAPH conference films. Most of the films are entertaining short cartoons, but there are always some innovative aspects — for example, new approaches to lighting and shadows, new methods for modeling human motion, and new ways of modeling difficult surfaces such as mountains, water, sand, clouds, and glass. Some of the films demonstrate practical business applications for graphics technology, such as visualization of scientific data.
The show has had four graphics speakers over the last 35 years:
Ron Lusen, 1980-1995: now retired, but for many years, he did computer graphics work at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.
Jeff Posdamer, 1996-2008: a computer graphics expert at Sarnoff Corporation.
Szymon Rusinkiewicz, 2009-2013, 2016: a research professor at Princeton University.
Adam Finkelstein, 2014-2015: a research professor at Princeton University.
The Computer Graphics Film Show has three goals: to entertain, inspire, and educate. Computer professionals come to get exposure to new ideas and techniques. Young people get inspired by the variety of things that the technology can do. And everyone has an entertaining evening.
Beginning in 2012 Princeton ACM added a pre-talk event — a special “Celebration of Mind” commemorating the birthday of Martin Gardner, the long-time columnist for Scientific American. This event is a short talk on “mathematical games.”
From 1957 to 1986 Gardner wrote a monthly column on mathematical games — an eclectic (or geeky) mixture of puzzles and games based on arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. Gardner passed away in 2010 at the age of 95, but his writings helped make mathematics (and by extension, computer science) accessible to several generations of young people. Many volunteer groups around the world have special talks and events in October each year in memory of Gardner. See www.celebrationofmind.org for information.
All Princeton ACM monthly meetings are free and open to the public. Students and their parents are welcome. Refreshments are served.