Making the Impossible Plausible

Maryann Simmons
Senior Software Engineer, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Disney Animation Studios has a long history of animated storytelling, and while much has changed over the more than 8 decades of of filmmaking, there are core animation principles that are as significant in today’s 3D digital productions as they were in the early days. One such enduring principle of animation is the “Plausible Impossible”, which Walt described as taking something that is impossible and making it appear rational and acceptable. In this talk I will go over some of the base tenets of this principle and illustrate the concept with example animations. Achieving these highly art-directed results while maintaining plausibility is an even greater challenge in the highly complex worlds of our digital films today. I will give examples from recent films of some tools and workflows we have developed to aid the artists in achieving these highly stylized results.

Maryann Simmons is a Staff Software Engineer at Walt Disney Animation Studios. She received her B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Computer Science with a focus in 3D Graphics. Maryann has been developing software tools for artists at WDAS since 2004. Her technology film credits include Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana.

Emulating the creativity of a painter:
integrating cognitive deep learning AI and painting rendering

Steve DiPaola
Professor and Chair of the Cognitive Science Program, Simon Fraser University

DiPaola will discuss and demonstrate his lab’s approach ( to cognitively modeling a fine art painter process by integrating Deep Learning AI with novel computational novel NPR approaches. This interdisciplinary (cognitive science / arts / AI) work brings computational creative fields together with Deep Learning Neural networks. DiPaola will demonstrate and discuss the work as well as the applications spaces in interactive arts, health and a recent Google / Knight Foundation granted project using creative painterly emulation as a new approach to anonymize interviewees in documentary videos where the study data shows improvement to overall empathy and engagement compared to current techniques. He will also demonstrate its use in VR and bio sensing interaction.

DiPaola is the past Dir of Cognitive Science and Prof at SFU. Before SFU, as faculty DiPaola taught the first VR Course at Stanford in 2002 and is known as an expert in computation models that emulate fine art painters and human emotive faces detailed in > 100 published papers and showcased in the journal Nature. He has directed R&D groups at Electronic Arts, Saatchi Interactive and SV startups. His AI/digital artwork has been shown at museum and galleries world wide including the AIR and Tibor de Nagy galleries in NYC, the Whitney Museum and the Smithsonian.

Keynote title to be announced

Andrew Pearce
VP of Global Technology, DreamWorks Animation

Andrew will give an anecdotal account of his experiences working in the animation and VFX industry, which will likely include stories about his former professors.

Andrew Pearce is VP of Global Technology at DreamWorks. He began studying computer graphics back when Brian Wyvill AKA Blob could still be considered young. Andrew worked at Alias where he helped develop Maya and Paint Effects, ESC helping deliver the Matrix sequels, and co-chaired SIGGRAPH's largest sub-conference, the Digital Production Symposium (DigiPro) for the past two years. Similar to Dr. Wyvill, he also has the acting bug and studied improv at places such as Loose Moose in Calgary, Second City Toronto, Impro Theatre in LA. While in Toronto, his sketch troupe were awarded a CBC special in 1999.

When Artistic Inspirations Influence Software Development

Peter Blaskovic
Founder and CEO, Escape Motions

A mission of Escape Motions is to create tools that bring new experience and widen possibilities for digital artists so that they become more motivated and determined to express themselves in a new unique way. In this talk, I will speak about this phase of searching and find the inspirations when developing our tools (Flame Painter, Rebelle, Amberlight, and Inspirit) and what I see is essential to realize those innovative concepts in practice.

Peter Blaskovic is founder and CEO of Escape Motions. He got his master degree at the Faculty of Architecture, STU in Bratislava. His long-standing passion—connecting art with the world of code—started in mid-90s on 16-bit machines when Peter was coding visual demos for Amiga computers. In 2003 Peter joined Cauldron, a game development company, where he worked as a lead animator for Activision game projects. His website with interactive artistic applets attracted millions of people and motivated him to establish his studio Escape Motions in 2012. The company and the software they developed got numerous renowned awards and nominations (IT Company of the year 2016 Slovakia, Hermes Creative Awards 2016 Platinum Winner, IT Europa - Software Innovation Solution of the Year 2018 and others) and is used by acclaimed studios including Walt Disney, ILM, Lucas Film, or Sony Entertainment.