Compulsory viewing: the Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH Asia Tokyo 2018

'Reverie' - SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 CAF 'Best Student Film Award'
‘Reverie’ – SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 CAF Best Student Film Award

Here at vfxblog we’ve already previewed some of the VFX-related talks and dived into the Technical Papers process for SIGGRAPH Asia Tokyo this year. Now we look at the other conference highlight: the Computer Animation Festival.

The ‘CAF’ takes in the Animation and Electronic Theater, and the VR Theater, plus a selection of panels and talks about the latest in computer animation and visual effects. It’s definitely one of the best places to catch up with films from around the world.

vfxblog asked Computer Animation Festival Chair Shuzo John Shiota, who is also is the President and CEO of Polygon Pictures Inc., to tell us more about how the CAF works and what to look forward to this year.

vfxblog: People are always dying to know: what is the difference between the Animation Theater and the Electronic Theater?

Shuzo: The Electronic Theater is a 100+ minute show comprised of the very best 2018 has to offer in terms of computer graphics storytelling. The types of story are quite varied, ranging from short animations, visual effects, game cinematics, music videos, to scientific visualization.

The Animation Theater is comprised of works that didn’t quite make the Electronic Theater selection but are nevertheless worthy of merit, or works that have a longer running time which make them hard to program within the ET. Interesting note is that SIGGRAPH North America no longer has the Animation Theater in its program, so it’s sort of like a lost dialect that only exists in Asia.

Also, don’t forget the VR Theater, debuting in SIGGRAPH Asia for the first time, which showcases the vest VR storytelling pieces of the past year.

vfxblog: Can you talk about the submission and judging process for the Computer Animation Festival – how did you arrive at the participants and the winners?

Shuzo: We had about 400 submissions from all over the world. They were first reviewed by our online reviewers, comprised of industry veterans, who nominated selections to be sent to the final jury. On formulating the final jury, in addition to the deep knowledge of the art and industry that is expected of any CAF juror, my aim was to 1) bring in an Asian perspective (5 of the 7 jury members are Asian, and another is currently working in China), 2) create a female majority (4 out of 7 are female), and 3) create generational diversity (the jury ranges from members with decades of experience to a young artist in his 20’s who is also a multiple CAF Asia awardee).

The jury made its selection based on the following criteria. 1) Craftsmanship, 2) Relevance, 3) Originality, and most importantly, 4) Does it move you.

'L'oiseau qui danse' - SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 CAF Best In Show Award
‘L’oiseau qui danse’ – SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 CAF Best In Show Award

vfxblog: Do you feel like there were any particular trends in the submissions this year?

Shuzo: On watching the CAF trailer, I think you will find that the look and feel of the selected titles are truly diverse and eclectic. This underscores the fact that computer graphics as a medium of storytelling has truly matured, and is now capable of creating images in a myriad of styles.

vfxblog: What kinds of panels and talks related to the CAF are planned?

Shuzo: We have around 10 production sessions that will no doubt give the audience valuable insights on a wide range of digital production; from Hollywood blockbusters by the likes of Pixar, distinct digital Anime productions by local Japanese studios, VR productions, to 64K intro productions.

We are also planning to hear from the director of this year’s “Best in Show”, “L’oiseau qui danse”.

'Vermin' - SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 CAF Jury Special Award
‘Vermin’ – SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 CAF Jury Special Award

vfxblog: Now that the winners have been announced, are you able to say which of the submissions also stood out for you?

Shuzo: I am very happy about the selections. I think we have a very good Electronic Theater, Animation Theater, and VR Theater. As a Chair, I am not able to personally vote, but ultimately, all the pieces I was rooting for got chosen as the top picks!

You can register to attend SIGGRAPH Asia Tokyo 2018 at