SIGGRAPH, the annual convention of the Association for Computing Machinerys Special Interest Group on Graphics, is a mammoth convergence of the computer graphics industry that lasts a week but would take years to explore fully. Seminars and panels discuss the science and art of computer animation; acres of exhibition space display prod ucts that push graphics technology to remarkable limits.
But in many ways the heart of the show is the Computer Animation Thea ter, a show of the most outstanding new works of computer animation, ranging from sophisticated technical excercises to — increasingly — films with characters as real as those in more traditionally-animated films. And for the past few years, a new film by John Lasseter and his collaborators at the computer hardware and software company Pixar has been among the most eagerly-awaited works in the show. In 1986, it was the ground-breaking Luxo Jr.; last year, it was Tin Toy, the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award. This year, the Lasseter film that premired to a wildly enthusiastic reception was Knickknack, an ingenious, very funny cartoon which gives us some idea of what Chuck Jones or Tex Avery might have,done with computer animation. Luxo Jr, established standards for computer character animation that have inspired many of the best computer-animated films made since then; Lasseters own subsequent films are among the finest of those films, and each one has shown us more clearly what tremendous potential this new artform has. [Harry McCracken] interviewed Lasseter at SIGGRAPH in Boston in August, 1989.