I love a good tech demo. Unreal Engine's are always impressive, but they're not as joyful as SIGGRAPH's annual technical paper preview videos, which show off a collection of the year's most promising computer graphics research projects. If you've ever binged episodes of How It's Made and found yourself captivated by someone making plastic cups or conga drums or whatever, you're ready for the energy here: a calming, cheery voice talking about porous 3D materials and digital socks.
SIGGRAPH, which stands for Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, has been around for decades—it's an annual computer graphics conference that essentially highlights cool things that researchers and the tech industry are doing with computers and "interactive techniques." SIGGRAPH has a gaming section, but I think the real fun is in seeing boring everyday things being recreated in excruciating detail with computer graphics. An Unreal Engine demo isn't going to geek out about a digital sweater wrinkling properly, but a SIGGRAPH demo is, and it's better for it.
"Speaking of textiles," says the perfect narrator making a perfect transition in the video above, "by applying forces over time you can finally simulate pulling on your socks." I mean, yes. Hell yes. Who doesn't want to, finally, simulate pulling on their socks, actually? Think about how hard that actually is to animate! We're still annoyed when our videogame capes clip through our characters, while these SIGGRAPH researchers are over here nailing realistically stretchy fabrics.
The 2021 technical paper preview is a breezy four minutes highlighting just a few of the projects that will be shown off at SIGGRAPH this August. There's a lot of animated dancing and consistently soothing narration that somehow makes projects like "A Momentum-Conserving Implicit Material Point Method For Surface Tension With Contact Angles and Spatial Gradients" pleasant rather than intimidating. And the researchers seemingly have some weird running obsession with using a bunny for their tech demos.
It's a very nice video.