A Look Back - Contrasting Experiences, SIGGRAPH 2015 and Archaeology in Belgium

Zoe Leonard, 22 Oct 2015

A Look Back - Contrasting Experiences, SIGGRAPH 2015 and Archaeology in Belgium

Trou Al'Wesse - archaeological dig site in Belgium

CDE Research Engineer Peter Allen shares tales of his travels and contrasting experiences.



Held in the Los Angeles Convention Centre over the 9th-13th of August 2015, the 42nd International SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition was a great opportunity to learn about cutting edge developments in computer graphics, display hardware, games & movies, as well as network with academics and professionals from all over the world.

Having been lucky enough to attend the event with a great group of CDE students and staff members, I was able to experience first-hand some of the talks, demonstrations and shows that took place over the 5 day period.

The talks were split into separate “tracks” (games, film etc), and as my research is based on games technology I mainly attended the games track talks. These included some excellent presentations on the state of the art techniques being employed in procedural generation, a concept which is key to my own work. There were some good “this is how we did it” style talks about both games and movies, including an excellent presentation from some of the key people behind the movie Interstellar in which they described the production challenges encountered while shooting some of the films key special effects scenes.

The exhibition was a showcase of brand new software and hardware technology. Some of the larger vendors such as Nvidia, Autodesk and Intel were running mini presentations out of their stands, showing how their latest products were being utilised within the creative industries. Everywhere you looked you could find something which gave a glimpse of what the next few years of computer graphics is going to be like.

The conference also featured a “VR Village” area which showed off some of the latest projects to do with head mounted VR displays, and a “Maker Space” containing exciting projects to do with the world of 3D printing.

Archaeology in Belgium

Following my visit to L.A I spent a week working on an archaeological dig site in Belgium, so quite a change of scenery! The dig took place at the prehistoric site Trou Al’Wesse near the town of Huy, a site that has been being excavated for a number of years.

The reason for this visit was due to how my research is ultimately being applied to understanding the hunting behaviours of prehistoric peoples and how their environments affected the hunting styles they were able to utilise. Since I will need to present the research to people working in fields related to archaeology, it is beneficial to me to see how these fields operate.

Working on a dig site is a tiring but rewarding experience. First the material needs to be carefully dug from the ground so as not to damage any artefacts it may contain, then this needs to be dry-sieved to remove any unwanted rocks and then wet-sieved to clear the dirt from what is left. The remaining material can then be analysed on-site for any obvious artefacts before being bagged up and labelled for further study at a university.

I found the time I spent in L.A and Trou Al’Wesse to be immensely beneficial to me and consider myself very lucky to have been able to have the two incredible experiences.

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