SIGGRAPH '92 Preliminary Program

A satire by Steve Connelly ( and Tim Hall (
Posted to, 29 Apr 1992

The Siggraph `92 Conference On Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques will be held July 27 - 31 in Chicago, Illinois. The following contains selected portions of the Siggraph '92 Preliminary Program :

Computer Graphics Achievement Award

Presented to persons who have significantly influenced the progress of the computer graphics industry.

This Year's Winner : Elle Macpherson

Ms. Macpherson accounts for 97% of all GIF image files transmitted among computing professionals, insuring that GIF will become the standard for network image interchange.

Keynote Address

"State-of-the-Art in Anal-Retentive Illumination Models" by Don Greenberg.

Dr. Greenberg will review illumination models that for two decades have maintained the Law of Constant Rendering Time, which states that the time needed to render a high-quality image shall be one full day, regardless of the speed of the hardware.

Just a few years ago, ray tracing a surface would take all day. However, that is no longer true, and so more complex illumination models are needed. According to the new treatise by Greenberg, Torrance, Sparrow, and Cook entitled "Wait, It's Not That Simple", current research considers each diffusely reflecting surface patch to be an irregular assembly of microfacets. The microfacets must be ray traced to get reflection coefficients. If this doesn't take long enough, then each microfacet itself can be considered as an assembly of smaller facets. This subdivide-and-publish paradigm should insure that illumination methods will defeat the hardware for years to come.

Invited Lectures

"How to Convert Your Head into a Twisted-Pair Junction Box", by Jaron Lanier.

"Incomprehensible Rendering of 3-D Shapes", by Yoichiro Kawaguchi.

Coerced Lecture

"Further Thoughts on Implicitization", by Thomas Sederberg.

It's clear by now that implicitization of parametric surfaces was a bad idea. This paper explains how to re-explicitize any surfaces you may have mistakenly implicitized. Then we'll call it even, no harm done, okay?

Technical Papers

Drawing : The Faster, Cheaper, More Flexible Alternative to Computer Graphics.

The Desktop : An Intuitive Physical Metaphor for Representing Windowing Systems Within a Virtual Reality.

Boogers : Deformable, Viscoelastic Primitives that Merge Together Smoothly.

The Freehand Generation of Fractal Curves using only a Lightpen and Caffeine.

Stereosterone : The Male Visual Hormone that Makes 5 Inches Appear to be 14.

"Where is 100110101110101101-ikstan?" : Using K-d-trees to Manage the Nested Recursive Subdivision of the Soviet Union.

Impressionism : Aliasing by the Great Masters.

Simulation of Protein Folding with Applications to the Design of Cursive PostScript Fonts.


Fundamentals Seminar

Again in 1992, Siggraph will host a Sunday seminar for those who are forced to stay over Saturday night to qualify for the excursion fare. Attendees will learn the basics of computer graphics, including the so-called "paint" packages, and digital "windows" with the capability to "cut" images and "paste" them elsewhere. We will also consider the "viewing" through a synthetic "camera" of "surfaces" positioned in "space" and "illuminated" by ersatz "lightsources". As lecturer Edwin "Ed" Catmull notes, "To paraphrase Milton, 'Our ''reality'', like ''beauty'', is in the virtual ''eye'' of the proverbial ''beholder'''".

Basic Algorithms Analysis

Attendees will learn how to prove the optimality of their algorithms, so that when their algorithm produces lousy results they can at least claim that no one else can do better.

Applications of Planar Fractals

Julia and Mandelbrot sets, originally thought to have no application at all, have displaced Blinn's Blobby Lava Lamp as the Mac screensaver of choice among the new age Silicon Valley heads. However, the Vivarium project, a simulated ecosystem whose purpose has baffled experts, is poised to overcome fractals as the screensaver of the 21st century.

Marijuana cigarettes will not be available as the call for papers was not issued in time.

State-of-the-Art in Naming Those Sombrero-Shaped Functions

The names "Laterally-Inhibiting Receptive Field", "Windowed Sinc Function", "Laplacian", "Cardinal Spline", "Gabor Function", and "Difference-of-Gaussian" are being superceded by "Wavelet".

Solving Graphics Problems with Wide-Area Networks

When faced with a graphics problem, e.g. how to calculate the distance between a point and a line, degree-seeking students find it easiest to ask for the answer on a graphics-related InterNet newsgroup. Attendees will learn how to post their questions so they don't sound like homework problems. We will also learn why we get rude responses when we ask for a public-domain package for intersecting two lines, or when we ask for a C procedure that converts a photograph into a CAD database.

Abstracts Of Selected Technical Papers

Generalized Condoms

Although typically used for surfacing cylindrical models, the membrane and thin plate terms of the condom allow arbitrary deformations of the surface without tearing. Furthermore, one size fits all models. Thus, like convolutional surfaces and global splines, the condom can be used to skin highly-articulated skeletal armatures.

Color, texture, and bump mapping are discussed. A top-down, scanline approach to rolling the surface over the armature is presented.


Our research team at AT&T has designed and deployed into every home in the nation a communications network that provides real-time, two-way audio virtual reality, or "auropresence". Experiments show that cybernauts, using unobtrusive hand-held headsets, interact verbally with remote users as if all parties were in the same room.

Graphics Hardware Acceleration for Hierarchical Splatting

We discuss how to impose a hierarchy of point-spread functions when rendering volume visualizations using arrays of Stardent graphics supercomputers. Our method is based on the observation that, the higher the window that the Stardent is thrown out of, the more time the graphics hardware can accelerate and thus the larger the splat upon the concrete.

The Oz-slow Algorithm for Vector Field Visualization

Weightless streamlining witches, cows, and loved ones are advected into the flow field and observed from the door of the viewing house, a spinning framework that itself follows path integrals through the dataset. Data can be sent somewhere over the rainbow colormap, where it will be rendered in technicolor.

Paper : Image Processing within a PostScript Interpreter

PostScript interpreters tuned to process text often have access to thousands of bitmapped fonts. We suggest that such interpreters can also succeed in processing gray-tone images by converting the images into arrays of characters.

Scaling an image can be performed simply by changing the font's point size. Contrast is enhanced by changing to a bold font. Rotation is implemented by using italic fonts; repeatedly italicizing horizontally and then vertically will accomplish the Catmull-Smith two-pass image rotation algorithm.

With enough fonts, a given font will be assured that all its affine transformations are simply other existing fonts. Thus, according to the Collage theorem, Iterated Function Systems can be used to encode images given a single letter from any font. This will work especially well for encoding images of text.

Paper : Digital Simulation of a Painter's Materials

We present a digital paint system which simulates the surface behavior and dynamics of time-tested painting implements. The system manages the video display so that it exhibits the irregular structure of a cave wall, and the system allows the user to choose colors from a pallete of crushed berries and animal organs. PostScript output onto a real cave is discussed.

Ethical Considerations in Graphics Production

In 1989, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were applauded for their "Study of a Numerically Modeled Severe Storm", a dynamic visualization of data derived from the simulation of a synthetic tornado. However, it has been recently revealed that their data was not fake, but was in fact real. We discuss the fallout of the ensuing scandal.

Paper : Memory Technologies for Direct Volume Visualization

We at the Computer Museum in Boston just realized that our museum is filled with junk. You think you're clever, unloading your computer garbage on us like we were Jersey. Well, forget about history. From now on we're doing volume visualization, on the leading edge.

In volume visualization, the task is to render the data so that it appears to have a 3D physical form. However, this task can be avoided if the data is held in a memory device that itself has a 3D physical form. In addition to its volumetric shape, the memory components must be large enough to be visible to the naked eye. The only memories that fulfill these constraints are the ferrite core memories of the 60's. Binary voxel arrays can be loaded into core memories that have been coated with magnetically reactive pigment so that each core is white or black. In this way, a researcher can comprehend his 3D data by walking around and peeking inside the memory itself. And the memory is free; in fact, we'll pay you to move it out of here.

MacKoax! from Coax Inc.

We present a product that is plug-compatible with Mac's, PC's, Unix workstations, and all other SCSI, parallel, or custom ports. The device operates at room temperature and does not require power. Its simple design provides ISDN, TCP/IP, big-endian/little-endian functionality that accepts PostScript, NTSC, voice, IGES, MIDI, Group 3, and all other formats, under the condition that input and output formats are the same. The device works at video rates and, because it doesn't do anything, it operates without any data loss or distortion.

Paper : CAT Scan Visualization in PostScript

We present a new method of using PostScript to visualize objects formed from serial sections. Our method begins by thresholding the volume data into a 3D bitmap of voxels that are either transparent or opaque. We then iterate over all 2D sections, converting each into a PostScript bitmap. We then send the bitmaps to our laser printer, which we have enhanced so that the laser actually burns the paper away at the positions of transparent pixels. As sections are printed off, they form a stack in the output tray. Eventually, the CAT scan data volume is realized in solid paper, which can be bound in book form.

Physics and the Mootness of Graphics

Current trends in photorealistic graphics involve thermodynamics for radiosity calculation, optics for ray tracing, classical mechanics for physically-based animation, and Kirchoff's laws for reflection and absorption. Thus, an undergraduate physics curriculum that uses computer simulations will accidentally recapitulate all of computer graphics while resulting in a kick-ass renderer.

Film & Video Show

The Up With People chorus will give a live multimedia rendition of "Chicago : It's Not as Bad as Detroit". Unfortunately, our usual laser show has been hired away by the International PostScript Convention. However, we do have a flatbed plotter whose pens have been replaced with lasers. PostScript path files submitted to the plotter will be drawn calligraphically on the projection screen.

PDI Morph Reel

For a recent Michael Jackson music video, Pacific Data Images created what is to date the longest continuous raster image morph sequence, involving transitions between more than a dozen completely different human faces. Each face was Michael Jackson after a plastic surgical operation. Digital extrapolation was used to predict Jackson's future appearance as he achieves his goal of a "Siamese-Cat-with-Kirk-Douglas-Chin" look.

Excerpts from "Terminator 2"

In the future, blobby models (metaballs, equipotential isosurfaces) will enjoy continued success over competing surface methods. All other modeling technologies will be made obsolete while blobby models will become a world-wide standard. Eventually, Blobbies will decide they don't need the humans. Shiny, environment-mapped deformable pseudopods will go on a rampage and nearly terminate the human race.

In "Terminator 2", a Blobby travels back in time in order to terminate a boy named Pierre Bezier, the only person who can stop blobby modeling from taking over. The Blobby terminator's ability to distend his shiny metallic anatomy to any length lets him become a successful porno star named Long Dong Silver.

The Making of "Starwatcher"

For the feature film "Starwatcher", new techniques in the modeling of totally synthetic scenes have been perfected. A Cyberware scanner is used to digitize real faces in a variety of facial expressions while mouthing all possible phonemes. The Data Suit is worn by live actors and domesticated animals to capture natural-looking action. Textures and scenery are derived from sonar and optical recordings taken on-location. Clay models are moved incrementally and then laser digitized to create a different 3D object to be rendered for each frame. By combining these techniques, "Starwatcher" will become the first feature length film in the history of cinema that is entirely computer-animated, completely untouched by human hands, involving no live action footage at all.

Special Effects in the Next "Star Trek"

In motion pictures (such as Lawnmower Man, Looker, Return of the Jedi, and the genesis effect in Star Trek 2), computer graphics effects have been used quite successfully to depict, um, computer graphics. Now, the artifacts of computer graphics will be used to best advantage in "Star Trek NaN : The Wrath of Phong"....

The landing party alpha-blends to opacity on the planet's surface.


The tricorder indicates a complete lack of mirror reflections and cast shadows. Also, if we travel too far from the origin, we will suffer from round-off error. Captain, this planet is highly dangerous; it was wise to bring expendable red-shirted security men.
An expendable red-shirted security man turns to the side while looking upward. His neck joint suffers gimbal lock, and he falls in a heap. The group rushes to him.


Jim, he's dead.
KIRK: Throws arms wide, ripping shirt.
No quaternions? What kind of planet is this?
An omnipotent, dim-witted native of the planet approaches, walking through cone-shaped trees and icosahedral boulders. His form is that of a matte gray desk lamp. For no apparent reason, his light bulb flashes when he speaks.


Why does this death cause such grief, One-They-Call-Kirk? Was he not a non-speaking extra?
He was just an extra, yes, but still an actor, and, so, we, actors, all of us, too, feel his pain, his agony. Regardless of age or experience, each of my species belongs to a single screen actor's guild.
Another native of the planet, a curvaceous astro-bimbette, enters.


When you open your mouth wide while over-acting, I can't see out the back of your head. You are not from here, are you?
We are from a far-away planet. And yet, like your sun, ours is a point light source at infinity. We will return there soon.
Why must you leave? Does my form not please you?
Oh, yes. Your complexion is very uniform, your surfaces are subdivided to a pleasant smoothness, and your boundary representation implies that your head is empty. My gender finds these traits attractive. Though I'm sure your not just a Kirk-tease, I must nevertheless be going -
Captain, please stay. Due to excessive instancing, the genetic patterns of my people are identical. Without variety, our species is threatened with extinction. If you do not impregnate all the young women on our planet, we are doomed.
KIRK: righteously
If there is one law that we live by, it is that all species have the right to survive. Bones, help me service all these women.
Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a firehydrant.

Administrative Note

We apologize if we have at times referred to Siggraph '92 as Sgigraph '92.

Postscript: This preliminary program was compiled by Steve Connelly and Tim Hall