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VRTO 2017 sees announcement of a breakthrough in autism research, features more than 65 international expert speakers, 40 exhibitors and 10 interactive rooms

TORONTO (Tuesday, June 6, 2017) — VRTO (Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo), Canada’s largest virtual reality convention, laser-focused on experiential/immersive technologies returns for the second annual edition of its critically acclaimed deep-dive symposium at Ryerson University’s Rogers Communication Centre in Toronto from June 24th-26th. Spanning three days and featuring more than 65 international expert speakers, 40 VR/AR exhibitors and 10 rooms, halls and studios each focused on different disciplines and interests — from Web VR to spatialized audio — VRTO brings the best and brightest from the VR world together under one roof.

“Spatialized media technologies that include virtual and augmented reality are growing exponentially and we want Canada to be at the fore of the movement,” said Keram Malicki-Sanchez, VRTO Founder and Executive Director. “VR isn’t simply something for ‘Toys”R”Us’ shelves at Christmas; VR & AR will be a part of everything with profound implications for many industries. Health, education, entertainment, commerce, tourism, research — these technologies will transform the world — and VRTO prides itself on being a true change agent for the conversation around the technology and its many applications.”

VRTO 2017 has offerings for all levels of virtual and augmented reality expertise. Two days of intensive training are available for developers and seasoned professionals looking to learn further advanced techniques. A one-day film & TV industry “onboarding” workshop takes place via VRTO’s on-site TV studio for those looking to learn how to shoot and utilize VR/360° video and audio. While curated immersive content pavilions will feature the best interactive VR games, prototypes and experiences in virtual, augmented and mixed reality for attendees to enjoy during VRTO’s full run.

Among several major announcements, VRTO sees a major breakthrough in autism research announced by keynote speaker, Canadian virtual reality pioneer Graham Smith. Smith — Chief Science Officer of Dutch educational tech company WebChair — will reveal the incredible results from the Ontario government backed WEBMOTI global research project. WEBMOTI, a telepresence system using VR technology, allows autistic students who often struggle with sensory overload in classrooms to attend classes remotely and fully control the sensory input they receive on their end.

“With the WEBMOTI project we’re helping to open a door for autistic students into a world the rest of us consider normal,” said Graham Smith, Chief Science Officer of WebChair and VRTO keynote speaker. “The project is about integration over isolation, and the incredible results we’re announcing back that. We’re helping these kids to finally control their environment, building their confidence so they’re motivated to go back to school — an outcome we’ve seen with all 30 students that have participated in the study.”

VRTO 2017 consists of one of the most prestigious lists of VR industry titans ever assembled. Some of 2017’s speakers, exhibitors and activations include:

  • Graham Smith — Canadian VR pioneer; Chief Science Officer of Dutch educational technology company WebChair
  • Moses Znaimer — Canadian media mogul; creator of Dora Award-winning audience-interactive play “Tamara” and “Tour of the Universe” the world’s first flight simulator ride (operated beneath the CN Tower; 1985-1990)
  • Dr. Sarah Diamond — President of OCAD University
  • Dr. Maria Karam — Inventor, entrepreneur, and leading academic in the computing sciences; Founder + President of Tactile Audio Displays Inc.
  • David A. Smith — Computer scientist; creator of both the first 3D interactive game “The Colony” and the virtual set/camera used in James Cameron’s “The Abyss”
  • Researchers from Microsoft (Eduardo Cuervo) and Google (Jai Krishnan)
  • FIVARS Pavilion (Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories) — the world’s best immersive shorts, hosted inside an 8K projection mapped spherical cylinder from UK based 360° projection company Igloo Vision, debuting in Canada
  • HumanEyes — creators of the VUZE VR Camera (the world’s first 3D, 360°, spherical virtual reality camera); making its Canadian debut and available for sale at VRTO
  • VR Arcade — A highly stylized arcade featuring multiple VR activations from Canadian developer Secret Location and New York based Iris VR
  • Executives from four local Toronto based artist-run media art centres Trinity Square Video, Charles Street Video, Gamma Space, and Dames Making Games

VRTO 2017 takes place at Ryerson University’s Rogers Communication Centre (80 Gould St, Toronto) Sunday, June 25th to Monday, June 26th from 10am-6pm daily; with a special media/VIP preview and reception taking place Saturday, June 24th from 1pm-6pm. Tickets are available at conference.virtualreality.to.

Meet our Elections 2017 Candidates

It’s finally time for the Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter’s annual elections! This year’s elections are for the positions of Vice-Chair, Treasurer and up to 5 Member-at-Large positions.

Elections will be held by secret ballot via snail mail. Ballots will be mailed out to Chapter members in good standing as of April 1st, 2016. Ballots must be mailed back to the Chapter, postmarked no later than April 30th, 2016.

Newly elected officers of the Chapter will begin their 2-year term as of May 15th 2017.

It’s time to meet the candidates!


Candidate for Vice-Chair:

Kristine Oel

Kristine Oel: Kristine Oel would like to continue in her role as Vice President of the Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter. With 23 years in the Computer Graphics Industry, she is focused upon giving back to the CG community by encouraging others to design their dreams with artistic integrity. Kristine’s experience as Art Director of Astral Media’s specialty channels – The Movie Network, HBO Canada, Family, Teletoon, Disney Junior and Disney XD, adds a wealth of industry experience and networking opportunities to the organization. She hopes to continue giving her time and efforts to bring Toronto’s CG community together to share knowledge, creativity and passion for the arts.


Candidate for Treasurer:

Patrick Cernea

Patrick Cernea: I have been passionate about the computer graphics industry for as long as I remember. As a Lead Business Intelligence Strategist at York University, I am working in the intersection between IT and Strategy, two fields I find truly interesting. As Treasurer of the Chapter, I would bring the experience and knowledge I acquired during my MBA at the Schulich School of Business and in my years spent as financial analyst & consultant. My goal is to work alongside the Chair to increase our membership, create fulfilling events, and offer our members more rewarding networking opportunities.


Candidate for Member-at-Large:

Nick Fox-Gieg

Nick Fox-Gieg: Nick Fox-Gieg is an animator and creative technologist based in Toronto. His film “The Orange” won the jury prize for Best Animated Short at SXSW 2010; his films have also screened at the Ottawa, Rotterdam, and TIFF film festivals, at the Centre Pompidou, and on CBC TV. Fox-Gieg was awarded an Eyebeam Fellowship in 2012, a Fulbright Fellowship in 2006, and has received media arts grants from Bravo!FACT, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the arts councils of Ontario, Pennsylvania, Toronto, and West Virginia. He holds an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. Most recently, he’s been working on virtual reality projects at Framestore and Google Creative Lab.

The Boundary of Chaos: An exploration of parameters, liquid dynamics, and other oddities with one of the creators of Maya

Tech Talks: The Boundary of Chaos

On Thursday October 20th, 2016 Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH was pleased to host Duncan Brinsmead for his talk “The Boundary of Chaos”. Duncan’s contributions to Maya include Bifrost fluids, the Nucleus Physics Solver (along with Jos Stam) and Maya Paint Effects.

Duncan’s talk started off by examining how seemingly simple scripts in Maya — when placed in repetition — can generate complicated and visually stunning imagery. He then proceeded to show how combining fluids with solid geometry can produce interesting and otherworldly environments.

This was followed by demonstrating how these environments can drastically change in fascinating ways by only tweaking a handful of parameters in Maya. Of special note was the fact that how the most interesting of outcomes are usually arrived at when these parameters are tweaked on the boundaries of creating chaos within the editor.

Finally, Duncan demonstrated the flexibility of motion trails in Maya and how they can be used to drive fluids in interesting ways. He then used this technique combined with a 3D model of a dolphin to demonstrate how fluids in Maya can take on any form in their journey from one location to another.

The talk ended with a Q&A session where attendees asked questions regarding their thoughts on the techniques presented and inquired about potential future enhancements in Maya.

We all then gathered at Betty’s for some food and good cheer where attendees finally had the chance to meet Duncan personally and ask any questions they had remaining from the talk.

We would like to thank everyone who attended and all the volunteers that made this event possible! Thank you and we hope to see everyone again at our future events!

Meet our Election Candidates!

Our roster of candidates for the next Chapter election is now available!

Elections will be held by secret ballot via snail mail.  Ballots will be mailed out to Chapter members in good standing as of April 1st, 2016.  Ballots must be mailed back to the Chapter, postmarked no later than April 20th, 2016.


Candidates for Chair

Gillian Chesnais

Gillian Chesnais: Serving as a Member-at-Large of the chapter for the past one and a half years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside great volunteers, doing my part to make our events become reality. I am now putting forward my candidacy for the position of Chair of the Chapter to continue the work that we’ve started. In the last couple of years we have greatly improved the Chapter’s infrastructure and nurtured new and old relationships with other graphics-related organizations around the GTA. I aim to build on that with the experience I’ve gained volunteering for the past five SIGGRAPH conferences and the insights from contributing to the Chapter’s needs this past 1.5 years. I want to get to know our members, so that we may work to support them, giving them access to all the resources, talks, tools they need to achieve their goals!


Candidates for Secretary

Baktash Abdollah-shamshir-sazBaktash Abdollah-shamshir-saz: It is with joy that I declare my intention to run for the position of Secretary of the Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter. Over the past several months while volunteering as webmaster, I had the pleasure of playing a productive role within the chapter while enjoying the company of all the dedicated and wonderful members involved. I believe that as Chapter Secretary I will be able to play an even bigger and more constructive role in the Chapter’s efforts for outreach and event coordination. Therefore, I hope that you will cast your vote in my favor for becoming the next Secretary of the Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter.


Candidates for Member-at-Large

Jacqueline BermudezJacqueline Bermudez: Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter (TASC), through its events, shares valuable knowledge with people that are interested and have a passion for computer graphics. First, I was only part of audience at the events that TASC organizes, and now I’m one of the volunteers at this Chapter. During my experience as a volunteer in TASC, I have really enjoyed working with the team, participating in the events, learning more about the graphics industry and meeting interesting people. I would like to extend my commitment as a member of the Chapter to Member-at-Large.

I’m a Computer Scientist and I work as a Web Developer at the Toronto General Hospital. Currently, one of my main tasks at Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH is working with Social Media, Twitter and Facebook, and I’m looking forward to updating TASC’s website. Likewise, I will cooperate on tasks necessary to promote the Chapter events and attract more people to become involved in our Chapter. I hope all of you will support my enthusiasm by electing me to the committee of TASC as a Member-at-Large.

Fluid Animation in Tall Order


On February 4th, he Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter was proud to host Jos Stam of Autodesk Research for its first event of 2016.  Jos is a world-class researcher who has won many prestigious awards, including two Technical Achievement Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.  Although Jos has published work on many topics including BRDFs and subdivision surfaces, on this evening we gathered to celebrate the publication of his book, The Art of Fluid Animation.

For this sold-out event, a crowd of 75 people gathered at the Autodesk Viz Studio in downtown Toronto.  After a few opening remarks from our Chair, Gord Kurtenbach, Senior Director for Autodesk Research and sponsor of this event, came up to the podium to introduce the main speaker.

Jos gave us a very personal talk about his career in computer graphics, much like the writing in his book.  He showed never-before seen paintings he created as a young teen which reflected his fascination with the shapes of fluids and cloth.  Jos also showed some impressive demos of emergent fluid behavior which his algorithm replicates.  To conclude, Jos shared some videos that highlight how his algorithm is used in Autodesk products today.

After the talk and a question period, we raffled three T-shirts, imprinted with the book cover, that Jos generously donated.  Congratulations to our winners Dianna Basso, Xavier Snelgrove, and the winner of the Grand Prize (a Jos Stam sized T-shirt), Thuan Ta.

After the event, a smaller crowd joined Jos at betty’s for some informal discussion, networking, and good cheer.

We would like to thank Autodesk Research for their generous sponsorship of this event.

Don’t forget to check out more images of this event at our Facebook album, and while you are there, like us!  And follow us on Twitter as well!

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