Glowy carpets, smart lasers, and a tsunami of CGI: Preview the synapse-melting delights of SIGGRAPH 2010

So, every year there's this little conference called SIGGRAPH. And by little, I mean totally huge and a really big deal. This is the place where hordes of art-minded mad scientists gather to wallop the world with cutting-edge animation technology. Finally kicked your Avatar blues, and scanning the horizon for your next source of knee-weakening digital thrills? You'd better start here. Unfortunately, SIGGRAPH 2010 (running now through July 29) has taken up residence way far away in Los Angeles this year, so it's a bit late for plane tickets. But let's take a peek anyway!

Mostly, it seems like attending involves a whole lot of "My mind has just been blown to a million little pixels" moments. Touch-responsive luminescent furry carpet samples? Videocamera-equipped animatronic eyeballs? The ominous-sounding "cameraless smart laser projector"? Oh, yes. Check it out:

Of course, even though the conference is on the West Coast this year, Boston -- mecca of techie pursuits that it is -- will be well represented. In fact, Terrence Masson, director of the game design program at Northeastern, is chairing the entire conference. Masson is pretty much this excitable dude who's been digging on SIGGRAPH since the ‘80s ("I remember the early days when I first started going to SIGGRAPH -- I would run up the steps of the conference with this huge smile on my face"). Behold that infectious enthusiasm:

One of the big parts of the conference is the Technical Papers program. A lot of the papers scheduled to be presented feature work by folks from Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and a bunch of other local schools. As you can see from this oddly deadpan and curt summation, the technical papers are more engrossing if phrases like "Ambient Point Clouds of View Interpolation" get your motor running. But it's not all complex rendering programs and tedious 3D model manipulation. After all, our narrator informs us, "no SIGGRAPH would be complete without bunnies" -- oozing, spontaneously combusting, real-time-fur-generating bunnies, that is.

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