SIGGRAPH 2022 Report

After a 2-year hiatus, Blender was back at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver! For many years Ton has been sharing great stories and insights into what happened at previous editions of the event. This time, to celebrate 10 years since my first SIGGRAPH, I’ll give it a try.

Front and Center

For the first time we were able to move the Blender booth from the sidelines of the trade show into the middle of it. Thanks to a simple layout featuring 4 bar tables, a few plants, 3 demo workstations and one massive LED wall playing non-stop Blender reels, the booth was easily recognisable, stood out and attracted crowds. 

SIGGRAPH 2022 booth. Picture by Jacques Lucke
SIGGRAPH 2022 booth. Picture by Jacques Lucke
The Blender booth over the years (2006, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019). Pictures by: Andy Goralczyk Andrew Price, OpenVisualFX, architosh)
The Blender booth over the years (2006, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019). Pictures by: Andy Goralczyk Andrew Price, OpenVisualFX, architosh)

With a delegation of over 10 people coming from Europe, plus some local help, the booth was always well attended, with lots of interesting conversations and demos happening around the clock. Every day, hundreds of people came by to say hi, reconnect, or learn about Blender. 

In contrast with past SIGGRAPH editions, almost nobody asked the infamous question: “How do you make money?”. Instead, many people said “Thank you”. People using Blender since the pre-2.8 days. People who have been using for 10+ years while attending high school and college, and now have a job at a studio, or work as content creators, making a living thanks to the skills they honed in Blender. Sometimes they can’t use Blender at work, but it’s their tool of choice for personal work. Many recognise that Blender was instrumental in helping them get where they are.

Many studios, including major ones, are also successfully using Blender, and are looking into adopting it further in their pipeline.

Finally, the Ton factor. Ton was a walking (or standing) landmark, with people approaching from afar, asking for pictures and handshakes, sharing gratitude. It was a joy to watch :)

Visual summary of the event, by Pablo Vazquez

Special Interest Group Meeting

As per tradition, Blender Foundation organized a public Birds of a Feather Special Interest Group (SIG) focused on sharing the ongoing activities of the Blender project, gathering feedback and providing a networking opportunity. The event was attended by a diverse group of individuals, teachers, researchers, and developers from tech companies and studios. A lot of interest in the future roadmap of Blender was expressed.

Picture by

Other Activities

Next to the SIG and the trade show booth, a couple more activities were set up: a dedicated meeting about USD, and a Geometry Nodes demo session.

Picture by Orange Turbine

Both activities were successful and helped people to connect better with the Blender team and the project. Geometry Nodes are very popular, with a full house and even people waiting outside!

Development Fund Connections

Finally, as live events are a great opportunity to meet in person, we held a few strategic meetings with Blender Development Fund sponsors. Overall the feedback on the state of Blender is positive and the support given via the Development Fund is perceived as a very good investment. We also had initial conversations with some animation studios on the topic of joining the Development Fund. Seeds have been planted! 

Blender in the Film Industry

Whenever having an informal conversation with someone working in a medium/large animation or VFX studio, one or more of the following topics came up:

  • Blender is happily used as part of a production pipeline
  • Blender is used in a key part of the artistic process, because it does something better than any other software
  • Unless blender adds feature X, we can’t use it in production
  • Blender needs to stick to the VFX reference platform! 
  • Blender is used, but we can’t talk about it

All these topics are very interesting, and there is work to do in order to set up a more effective collaboration with the film industry. This can be done by enabling studios to effectively get involved in the Blender project, but also making sure that studios feel empowered to own and tackle issues directly.

USD, AI, and Metaverse were hot topics in several conversations. At this moment, the most practical translation for the smoke and mirrors that the Metaverse stands for, is collaboration. This can be further interpreted into making content creation processes and pipelines more interactive and interoperable, both from an architectural and data structures point of view.

The topics of collaboration and content sharing are something that the Blender project aims to investigate as well, sticking to the Free and Open Source principles, by creating something as a community (bottom-up) rather than as a company (top-down). More on this soon!

Blender is for Artists

Overall, this SIGGRAPH has been a positive experience. Blender is very much loved, especially by individuals and small teams, who really thrive thanks to the freedom to create that Blender affords them. Looking forward to our next epic gathering: Blender Conference 2022!