From VFX to Conference Chair: June Kim’s Journey at SIGGRAPH Asia 2023

2024-05-29
Trending | Top News | Fox Renderfarm Interview
Fox Renderfarm Interview | SIGGRAPH Asia

June Kim is a lecturer at the University of New South Wales who has been leading the way in incorporating interactive and cutting-edge technologies into creative activities, illuminating the path towards immersive experiences. She has made substantial contributions to the fields of light and media arts through her research, teaching, and leadership roles at SIGGRAPH Asia conferences. June's commitment to the industry was further demonstrated last year when she chaired the conference for the renowned SIGGRAPH Asia 2023 conference, which often showcases the latest advancements in the industry, such as render farm and cloud rendering technologies.

Come along as we explore this visionary's thoughts and see how she plans to shape immersive design and interactive techniques in the future.

Fox Renderfarm: Hi June Kim! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

June Kim: Hello, I'm June Kim, a lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. My research and practice focus on light and the integration of interactive and immersive technologies into creative practices. Based on these interests, I teach and supervise students in the disciplines of media arts, interactions, and immersive design. Last year, I had the honor of serving as a conference chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2023, which is unquestionably one of the premier venues for researchers and creatives in the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques. I have also continued to hold various roles in SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia conferences.

Fox Renderfarm: Can you discuss the theme and vision you set for SIGGRAPH Asia 2023 and why it was chosen? How do you believe it contributed to the overall experience of the conference?

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2023

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2023

June Kim: I proposed a theme centered around "Connecting Stories", which I introduced during my opening talk. I've been preparing for this conference for over three years, during which we experienced a pandemic that led to lockdowns. I believed that people must have had many stories to share, especially given the circumstances. Additionally, computer graphics and interactive techniques offer new ways to connect people and represent stories, which influenced my choice of theme. I think this theme had a positive impact on the conference as it attracted a diverse group of people eager to discuss their experiences. When discussing diversity, it's not just about gender but also about different disciplines because nowadays, almost everyone uses computer graphics in some form. Having a diverse group of people come together to discuss how they've utilized computer graphics and interactive techniques in their own stories was truly enriching.

Fox Renderfarm: As someone who has been involved in SIGGRAPH Asia since 2019, how have you seen the conference evolve over the years, and what trends or advancements have stood out to you during this time?

June Kim: Before the onset of COVID-19, I want to express my sincere appreciation to all the individuals who contributed to organizing the last three conferences leading up to 2023. These conferences, held in 2020, 2021, and 2022, presented unique challenges and required innovative approaches. In 2020, the event was entirely virtual, while in 2021, we implemented a creative hybrid model, combining in-person events in Tokyo with virtual components for international attendees. In 2022, the conference took place in Daegu, Korea, with China still under lockdown, posing challenges in accommodating Chinese researchers. Despite these hurdles each year, looking back, these experiences have broadened our perspective on delivering conference content and ensuring the best experience for both virtual and in-person attendees. Over the past four years, and especially this year, we have placed a strong emphasis on the attendee experience from various perspectives. Moreover, there has been a significant shift in people's mindset regarding diversity and inclusion, influencing our review processes, committee organization, and considerations for additional support and services from the conference perspective.

Fox Renderfarm: Reflecting on SIGGRAPH Asia 2023, are there any specific presentations, workshops, or discussions that you found particularly thought-provoking or impactful, and why?

June Kim: Last year, we experimented with several new initiatives. One of them was the Computer Animation Festival Junior, aimed at encouraging middle and high school students to engage with SIGGRAPH, as we believe they represent the future of our attendees. Additionally, we reintroduced the Art Papers program and implemented the Super Speed Internet program. The latter was particularly intriguing as it took place on the final day. During this event, Professor Masaya Kaga from Keio University connected virtually with his colleagues in Tokyo, demonstrating real-time communication with avatars. It was a fascinating display of telepresence and virtual team communication, made possible by a 50 gig super-speed internet connection. We received tremendous support from Arnet, the Super Speed Committee from ACM SIGGRAPH, and individuals in Tokyo. It was a collaborative effort that required significant time and effort, but the outcome was truly satisfying. The keynotes, both at the beginning and end of the conference, were excellent. However, I'm aware that some attendees may have missed the Super Speed Internet program, especially since many researchers tend to depart early from conferences. Nonetheless, I was thrilled by the outcome, particularly the hologram techniques showcased, highlighting the rapid advancements in technology and our ability to create a more innovative environment in the industry.

Fox Renderfarm: In your role as the conference chair of SIGGRAPH Asia 2023, what were some of the challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them to make the event successful?

June Kim: The biggest challenge I faced was the uncertainty surrounding the planning of SIGGRAPH Asia 2023. I began envisioning and planning for the conference in early 2020, and I witnessed the difficulties encountered by the teams organizing SIGGRAPH Asia 2020, 2021, and 2022. The decision to switch to virtual at the last minute during previous conferences and the ups and downs they experienced made me apprehensive. Uncertainty loomed heavily, as there were many factors beyond my control, such as sudden developments like new variants of COVID-19, political instability, or global conflicts. These uncertainties, coupled with the "what if" scenarios that filled my mind each morning as I watched the news, were unsettling. However, I was fortunate to have a reliable and experienced team. The conference management committee had faced challenges before and had gained valuable insights. Additionally, my committee members were prestigious professors, researchers, and practitioners whom I trusted and respected. While I didn't have a specific strategy to deal with uncertainty, I invested time and effort in organizing and supporting my team. I trusted them to excel in their respective roles and provided support where needed. This collaborative approach helped us navigate the uncertainties effectively. Despite the challenges, I believe that facing and overcoming them made our team stronger and more experienced, better equipped to organize future events. As I prepare for the conference, I find myself constantly connecting current events with the conference, such as the possibility of events like South by Southwest coming to Sydney. While intriguing, it also raises concerns about potential competition for sponsors and resources. These considerations add another layer of complexity to the planning process.

Fox Renderfarm: Can you share a sneak peek of SIGGRAPH Asia 2024? What exciting sessions, workshops, or keynotes can attendees look forward to?

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2024

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2024

June Kim: Japan is renowned for having one of the largest SIGGRAPH communities globally. This year marks the fifth time Japan has hosted SIGGRAPH Asia, with Tokyo hosting for the third time. What's particularly noteworthy is the exceptional leadership guiding this year's conference. Led by Conference Chair Akio Igarashi, with the support of previous chairs Ken Anjyo and Ayumi Kimura, this collaboration represents a unique synergy. It's unprecedented to have three consecutive chairs also serving as program chairs in various capacities. This setup ensures high-quality contributions from all angles, promising an outstanding experience across multiple program tracks. While specific details about the keynotes are still under wraps, anticipation is high, and attendees can expect nothing short of excellence. As we look forward to SIGGRAPH Asia 2024, I'm eager to meet and engage with everyone. Though the event is in December, it's worth noting that the submission deadline for technical papers is approaching in May. Stay tuned for updates on the website, as more information will be posted soon.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you actively engage with and draw inspiration from the dynamic landscape of the CG industry? Are there specific forums, communities, or even unconventional sources that you find particularly effective in staying connected with the latest innovations and developments?

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2023_

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2023

June Kim: Just come to SIGGRAPH Asia! That would be my shortest answer. For me, the SIGGRAPH community has been a significant influence. SIGGRAPH encompasses diverse interest groups, ranging from artists and designers to VFX professionals and animators. As a member of the ACM SIGGRAPH community, you have the opportunity to interact with these diverse groups, gaining insights into cutting-edge techniques and knowledge. This engagement has not only expanded my network but also exposed me to similar yet different communities like ISIA and Ars Electronica. This year, I'm involved in organizing specialized conferences such as the Society of Animation Studies 2024 and helping with ISIA 2024's computer animation forum and screening program. Most importantly, I'm serving as the Frontiers Program Chair for SIGGRAPH 2024 in Denver. I look forward to meeting you there. I highly recommend joining ACM SIGGRAPH and attending SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia to engage with diverse groups and expand your horizons.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you see the intersection of computer graphics, animation, and virtual reality evolving in the coming years, and what potential impacts might it have on various industries?

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2023__

© SIGGRAPH Asia 2023

June Kim: I believe that the rapid evolution of AI has had a profound impact on computer graphics, particularly in the animation and VR industries. In the past year or two, we've witnessed significant advancements in computer graphics, largely influenced by AI. This has not only affected professional animators but also beginners and intermediate users, making it easier for them to create graphics, interactions, and immersive designs in a more professional manner. Remember back in 2015, when everyone was talking about it being the year of VR? However, there was a notable lack of content, which was often criticized. Now, with the advancements in AI, we're seeing a shift. It's becoming much easier for individuals across various skill levels to create high-quality content for VR and animation. AI tools assist newcomers in areas they may not be familiar with, allowing them to focus on their strengths and develop their creativity. This positive impact extends beyond just the animation and VFX industries; high-quality graphics and animations can now be utilized across a wide range of industries. In essence, AI is democratizing content creation, making it accessible to a broader audience and benefiting industries across the board.

Fox Renderfarm: Given the growing trend towards cloud-based rendering services in the CG industry, have you had any personal experience with utilizing cloud rendering services, and if so, could you share your insights on the advantages and challenges you've encountered? Additionally, we are curious about your opinions on specific services, such as Fox Renderfarm—how do you assess their contributions and impact on the broader landscape of rendering solutions?

June Kim: Cloud rendering offers significant benefits, especially in terms of efficiency and speed. As someone who previously worked as an animator for a decade, I understand the challenges of rendering large scenes and the costs associated with setting up and maintaining a render farm. Cloud rendering addresses these issues by providing a cost-effective solution that saves both time and money. The speed of cloud rendering is particularly impressive. I've personally experienced rendering scenes through services like Omniverse and Nvidia Cloud, and the difference in speed is astonishing. Tasks that would take hours on my local machine are completed in minutes on the cloud. However, as someone who isn't a studio owner, I can appreciate that there may be concerns about security and ongoing costs associated with cloud rendering. While speed and efficiency are undeniable advantages, studio owners may need to carefully weigh the cost-effectiveness and security of cloud rendering against maintaining an in-house infrastructure. Additionally, I acknowledge that there may be hesitations about transitioning to cloud rendering, similar to when cloud storage solutions like OneDrive were first introduced. Some individuals may have concerns about data security or disruptions in service. Overall, while cloud rendering offers compelling advantages, it's essential to address these concerns and uncertainties to fully embrace its potential.

Thanks again to June Kim for accepting our interview! Wishing new heights in you and your team’s professional career!!

June Kim’s social media:

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