Sometimes it's what you don't' see that makes an effect special...

Roundabout 20 years ago, when I was an MIT grad student, I went to one of my first SIGGRAPH conferences. (SIGGRAPH is the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics.)

In that early era of computer graphics, photo-realistic rendering was at the cusp of possible... The culmination of the event was the video showcase... where each of the institutions - whether commercial (like Pixar or ILM) or academic (like Cornell, Ohio State or MIT) showed off their own contribution to the state of the art. I remember 15 second clips of computer generated drapes waving in the wind that received standing ovations... or corn fields blowing in the wind. It was a thrilling time.

I remember one video clip (and I think it was from ILM, hoping someone can validate for me) that was entirely out of place. This video clip was entirely mundane. It was a video of a guy walking down a city street. Not computer generated mind you - literally just a guy walking down the street. And then there was a car driving down the road... this went on for a few minutes. Utterly mundane scenes. After all of the amazing animation we'd seen, this was quite a let down... The audience was baffled.

Then an interstitial slide appeared for about 15 seconds (long enough for us to ponder): "Sometimes it's what you don't see that makes an effect special."

They then re-ran the exact same reel... but this time you saw the back story behind every scene we'd viewed... The guy walking down the street was actually on a green screen. The entire city-scape around him was composited... flawlessly... including his shadows, reflections, etc. And on and on. Everything that looked mundane actually required immense effort to appear as such. The joke was on us, and we'd bought it hook line and sinker.

That moment had a profound effect on me.

Yeah, Google+ pages look a lot like user profiles.
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