Siggraph 2010. Trip notes

It was our second attempt to get to Siggraph this time. Last year Andrew was refused a US visa, so we had to cancel the trip last minute. Luckily, we were able to transfer the exhibit floor payment onto 2010 and this year 3 of our team (Andrew, Stas and Oleg) got visas OK, so we packed our bags for LA and set off towards the US shores.

Early morning departure kept us awake through the night and barely having any sleep, we caught a cab to head to the airport. The check-in went smooth and we settled in Kiev airport’s bar to wait our boarding for Amsterdam. Andrew kept to amaze us with his will to continue programming – he kept working on the auto-retopology feature at 5 am in the airport!

After landing in Amsterdam we headed for transfer desk to check-in for Los Angeles, and here’s where big surprise awaited. The desk informed the flight is overbooked and effectively they sold more tickets than the number of seats available on the plane and they were not sure two of us would be able to leave that day. Taking into account we planned to arrive right on the eve of the show start, we didn’t feel very optimistic about the idea suggested. So we rushed towards the boarding gate trying to secure our names on top of the waiting list. An hour of nervous expectation ended with our two missing boarding passes handed in successfully, so we proceeded to KLM’s big liner. Phew.

The flight took 10 hours, during which we entertained ourselves (not counting Andrew who kept programming after some failed attempts to get a nap) with on-board movies and games, took a few cool photos of Greenland’s snowy mountains and iced water expanses. Stas and Oleg discussed the meetings plan for the show.

Los Angeles welcomed us with nice sunny weather (to our surprise, it was colder than in Kiev at the time). From the airport we went to settle into our hotel and then headed towards the show to check our exhibit setup. Our booth was quite small, only 10x10 feet, however everything needed for presentation was there – a computer for live demos and another one with big screen for video presentations, in the middle of the booth’s background – big 3D-Coat logo splashed across. Later in the evening Javis arrived in town and we met at the hotel and went for dinner to talk about plans for tomorrow.

The next morning the show started. We made sure to arrive a little earlier than the opening hours to check if everything’s in place and get the equipment running. With the show start, a solid of visitors went in. Greg and Don (who also agreed to help us out with a number of things, such as PC for presentations, big 40’ screen, so as printing of t-shirts and our trade-mark auto-retopology banner, thanks!) showed up at the booth to help us out with demonstrating 3D-Coat and answering attendees’ questions. Soon enough we had our booth crowded with people, many of whom were astonished by 3D-Coat’s feature set and power as they discovered the app at the show. Oleg and Stas physically couldn’t leave the booth to pitch 3DC to companies and studios around the show (which was the original plan) as more visitors came to the booth with their questions. A very intensive first day it was! So intensive that we run out of all the promo leaflets and coupons we printed for the show. Therefore we had to go and order an urgent reprint later in the night, and Don willingly agreed to pick it up for us in the morning and bring to the show. Dinner at a Korean restaurant near our hotel was delicious (we followed Stas’s recommendations on food as he knew the cuisine a bit).

Day two of the show was as intensive as the first one, but we used the acquired experience to have Oleg and Stas go around talking about 3DC with exhibitors around, while Andrew, Javis, Greg and Don remained at the booth for demos and q&as. The tactics worked out well as more professional artists and managers from 3D art and animation studios came up interested to get a look at our software. Needless to say, this kept us up-beat and generally excited about the show.

Day three was a bit shorter than the first two, nevertheless just as busy as the former ones.

Visitors kept asking about auto-retopology (we had a special standing poster to highlight the new feature), voxel sculpting and other tools available in 3D-Coat and most of them we saw very impressed by what they discovered. We quickly have run out of all the discount coupons (we offered exclusively to Siggraph public) and T-shirts we gave away to enthusiasts. It was pleasing to see some of the visitors already wearing our 3D-Coat T-shirts around the show. We finalized all our meetings and made sure we collect as many new contacts as possible. Now, job done and it’s time to wrap up the show. Siggraph 2010 was a good one for us, no doubt. In the evening we had a team meeting at dinner to discuss everybody’s impression of the exhibition, feedback received after our presentations of 3D-Coat, what improvements are needed, so as further steps to be taken after the show.

The next day and a half we had free time. On Friday Greg took us for a drive to a remote nice beach (since he’s local and knows some good places). The traffic was quite bad, nevertheless we enjoyed the time by taking photos on the way, namely LA downtown skyscrapers, the freeway and generally the area, so as chatting with Greg about how it’s to live in US as opposed to Ukraine. Greg was doing some nice voice acting pretending to speak Russian with heavy accent, we laughed. Later in the afternoon we reached the beach area sought after, and it was a truly amazing ocean spot (we even saw dolphins in that bay). We came down to the beach for a swim. The water was quite cold, so we couldn’t stay in long, but some waves were really strong and impressive. Greg demonstrated us some technique of body surfing (i.e. surfing without a board), thumbs up for that! Later in the night we caught up with Don who invited us for overnight stay at his place – it was a very nice house on a hill with pool in the backyard, barbeque, mini-gym and a very friendly dog of his. Don treated us to yummy stakes he made himself.

Saturday morning Don took us for a jet ski ride on a lake nearby. Don even arranged a quad bike for us, however as we had to fly out in the afternoon, we didn’t have time for it. So we spent a couple hours at the lake doing some speedy water rides, it was good fun!

Back to Don's place to pick up our bags and we rush to the airport. Don brings us for check-in just on time, we get our boarding passes. Greg also arrives to the airport to say good bye, we shake hands and head over to security check and the gate.

The flight home went smooth, we slept most of the time. On arrival to Kiev it turned out they forgot to load all passengers' bags in Amsterdam, where we had a flight connection, so Andrew and Stas received their bags only two days after, but that's another story:)

Overall, it was a fantastic trip for us and participating in Siggraph helped us in establishing many new contacts, hear feedback from users first hand, so as get to know more how the world's 3D industry works. We would like to thank again Javis Jones, Greg Smith and Don Nash for their help and contribution to making that show a success.