Even before SIGGRAPH started, there was computer animation. Despite popular belief, computer animation was not created to do visual effects. The new-comer animators go to the SIGGRAPH conference to see the latest and greatest animations. However, there was a time when going to SIGGRAPH’s Film Show meant you waited with anticipation until the end of the show to see the one computer generated movie piece: like the Death Star from Star Wars done in 1977 by Larry Cuba or, the magnificent breakthrough piece, TRON done in 1982 by Magi Synthavision, Triple III, and Robert Abel & Associates.
One would go to SIGGRAPH to see work that one had never seen before, with people that were colleagues and collaborators. It was cool. You had to be there. In 1985, the short film Luxo Jr. by John Lasseter and William Reeves premiered at SIGGRAPH. The Academy followed the next year by nominating it for best Short Animated Film. One went to see Loren Carpenter’s Vol Libre premiere at SIGGRAPH in 1980, because it couldn’t be seen anywhere else. There was just no other market for showing a camera move around a snow-covered fractal mountain, except in academia.