Business Symposium

Additional Fee Required


California A, Anaheim Hilton, adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center
Sunday, 21 July 8:30 am - 6 pm


Business Symposium Social Hour
5 - 6 pm, Sunday 21 July 

Sponsored by: British Columbia Ministry of International Trade



As executives across content creation industries continue to face what appear to be endless challenges to our businesses, the SIGGRAPH Business Symposium offers attendees an intense, productive day focused on Disruption and Innovation. Unlike any other conference, SIGGRAPH provides a unique forum where leaders from film, games, and broadcast cross paths and share ideas with NASA scientists and world-class researchers. 

The Business Symposium is a day of networking and inspiration for approximately 250 studio leaders and facility executives in the production and creative communities, investment bankers, lawyers, and various government representatives who want to move beyond the constant disruption happening all around us. With your participation, the day will provide invaluable insights and conversation from across the SIGGRAPH communities.

Representatives of the news media will attend by invitation only. To ensure our tradition of open, frank, and unfiltered conversations, no speakers or attendees will be quoted without their express permission.

Symposium Schedule
8:30 am Registration and Coffee
9 am Opening Remarks
9:10 am Panel: New Platforms for Content Creators
10 am Quick Look: The Symposium Community Tool
10:10 am Optional Workshop: Executive Mentoring
10:30 am Networking Break
10:45 am Crash Course: The ABCs of Tax Credits
11 am Keynote Talk: Disruption in the Battlefield
11:45 am Talk: Pre-Visualizing a Road for Financing and Expansion
12:05 pm Lunch
1:15 pm Panel: Creative Deal Structures for Growth and Survival
Evan Hirsch
2 pm Talk: Why Talent Matters
Lorne Lanning, Oddworld Inhabitants
2:30 pm Talk: Partnering With Academia
Mark Bolas, USC Institute for Creative Technologies
2:45 pm Networking Break
3 pm Best of Cross Breeding: Television Meets Interactive
Scott Greenberg, Bento Box
3:30 pm Talk: Reactive Content Creation
Richard Chuang, Cloudpic Global, Inc.
4 pm Panel: The Role of R&D in Production (and Profit)
5 pm Closing Remarks and Attendee Feedback
5:15 pm Reception Hosted by the British Columbia Ministry of International Trade

Partial List of Sessions

Panel: New Platforms for Content Creators

Despite the major contractions in our traditional markets, competition from foreign markets, and the effects of tax credits that rarely directly benefit content creators, entertainment still lives by the mantra "Content is King". The studios may be releasing fewer tent poles and AAA games but there have never been more platforms, venues, and formats hungry for high-quality, compelling content. Three panelists offer their insights on how they will connect with audiences that are enthusiastic yet diverse in how they consume content, how they will monetize it, and where opportunities lie for linear and interactive content creators.

Moderator: Don McGowan, General Counsel, The Pokémon Company International
Meredith Amdur, VP Digital Strategy, DirecTV
Phil Ashcroft, Independent Producer
Matthew Cohen, Director of Business Development, Machinima

Crash Course: THE ABCs of Tax Credits

Film, television, and interactive tax incentives have had a dramatic effect on how and where business is done. Studios have moved their animation facilities to take advantage of tax incentives, and visual effects work is now placed with VFX houses throughout the world. This brief seminar provides a crash course on the basics of how tax incentives work and how to use them to your advantage. Attendees also receive a guide to film and media incentives in the United States.

Speaker: Russ Nissen, Director of Film Incentives, Ease Entertainment Services

Panel: Creative Deal Structures for Growth And Survival

In an environment where creative work is more and more often produced outside the US and acquired for global distribution, business executives need to know the cultural expectations that IP creators bring to the table. How much can business realities enter into creative decision-making, what expectations will creators have for how they will be treated by foreign businesses, and other issues have usually been considered from the perspective of US content going overseas. This session provides valuable insight into the realities that US-based companies face in acquiring content and working with developers, and informs those creative developers by providing some perspectives that their US-based partners will likely hold.

Moderator: Don McGowan, General Counsel, The Pokémon Company International
Steve Goldstein, Partner, Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP
Joleen Winther Hughes, Principal, Hughes Media Law Group
Justine Kasznica, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP

Keynote: Disruption in the Battlefield

Over the last 15 years, it is the rare SIGGRAPH attendee who has not been involved in creating content with military themes. Throughout production, the terminology of war and combat is used constantly, and as leaders we constantly talk about aligning objectives, situational awareness, dealing with ambiguity, and adapting to unpredictable conditions. In reality, when things go wrong, as significant as our losses may be, they are limited to shots, sales, and money. Captain Thomas Chaby, an active-duty US Navy SEAL officer, talks about the reality of developing and training the very best of our military’s special operators to be successful in situations where the environments are all but guaranteed to be dynamic and disrupted, and the deadly serious implications of failure. While failures in our production environments may not result in the consequences faced by our military special operators, we can draw on lessons from them on how to lead successfully in fast-moving, hyper-dynamic conditions with limited predictability.

Speaker: Capt. Thomas Chaby, Executive Officer, Naval Special Warfare Center

Talk: Why Talent Matters

There are few people who understand the nature of applying creativity within the worlds of digital entertainment better than Lorne Lanning. Lorne's vision for the Oddworld universe was about building a fresh, expressive franchise that satisfied the true desires of a discerning audience. The dynamics of today’s new interactive world, where creators can directly reach their audiences, has changed the rules of the game. In a medium where talent truly matters, Lorne shares his insight on the chasm between the worlds of creativity and commerce, and how building a bridge to span this divide can bring better work to market.

Speaker: Lorne Lanning, Co-Founder, Oddworld Inhabitants.

Panel: The Role of R&D In Production (and Profit)

Complex CG behaviors and effects such as crowds, water, fire, and cloth have found their way into most software packages, leading companies of all sizes to the belief that CG research is the domain of universities. This panel explores the notion that if you outsource innovation and rely on the same software as your competition, you are guaranteeing that you will compete on little more than price and date. Four panelists discuss how companies large and very small use research and innovation as a key part of their strategy for success and, ultimately, longevity.

Moderator: Carl Rosendahl, Carnegie Mellon University
Lincoln Wallen, CTO, DreamWorks Animation SKG
Scott Cronce, VP Technology, Electronic Arts
Joe Alter, Principal, Joe Alter Inc
Farchad Bidgolirad, R&D Supervisor, Ubisoft Motion Pictures

Talk: Pre-Visualizing a Road for Financing and Expansion

For most leaders in our community, offshore competition and tax credits have already affected their traditional business models. Meanwhile, for those who want to pivot or grow their businesses, the scarcity of financing has presented an additional set of ever-growing challenges. The Third Floor’s Chris Edwards describes his decision to expand the pre-viz company into the Chinese market along with his expectations for that venture and the lessons learned so far. He also explains how his team has turned rapid prototyping into a tool for his clients to raise capital and pre-sell films (and other entertainment projects).

Speaker: Chris Edwards, CEO & Creative Director, The Third Floor, Inc.

Talk: Reactive Content Creation

As a co-founder of Pacific Digital Image and a recipient of a Scientific and Technical Academy Award, Richard Chuang was at the forefront of creating the graphics technology and systems that were used to create the Shrek series of animated films as well as landmark VFX films such as "Batman Forever".  After leaving DreamWorks, he had the insight that content creators would need to service individuals instead of an audience, and a world of connected mobile users would demand content that is reflective of the speed and convenience of the consumer.  Instead of creating compelling content in years and months, the timeframe for production is now hours and minutes. Richard will discuss how he and his team at Cloudpic are building the tools and advising clients to entertain this new audience by pushing the limits of the creative process.

Speaker: Richard Chuang, CEO and Founder, Cloudpic

Partnering With Academia

While R&D departments have been substantially reduced or eliminated at most VFX facilities and game developers, research in academia continues to thrive. More importantly, many researchers are hungry to partner with industry to drive their work beyond the lab to ensure it has impact long after publication. Mark Bolas of the USC’s Institute for Creative Technology will provide a crash course as to how researchers approach industry partners, what our attendees need to know to successfully collaborate, and how companies small and large can leverage and integrate R&D into their businesses to help differentiate themselves.

Speaker: Mark Bolas, Associate Director, USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Talk: Best of Cross Breeding

After spending a large part of his career at Film Roman and then Starz Entertainment, Scott Greenberg and his partners decided the time was right for a new kind of animation studio that could deliver high-quality programing and storytelling experiences across traditional media and emerging technologies. Since opening their doors in 2009, BBE has become the leading producer of prime-time animation television, with series on FOX, Comedy, MTVm, and HBO, on the internet with HULU. BBI is building a digital platform to distribute their properties via social and mobile media. Using this strategy, BBI develops, publishes, and markets immersive storytelling experiences for tablets, mobile, and other digital-content devices. This session reviews Bento Box’s business model: a combination of providing production services, owning and building IP, managing IP rights, and leveraging business opportunities utilizing technology and the creative community to develop new revenue models. 

Speaker: Scott Greenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of Bento Box Entertainment (BBE) and Bento Box Interactive (BBI)

Quick Look: The Symposium Community Tool

As we look to build a community that benefits Business Symposium attendees well after the conference, we have partnered with IntroNetworks to bring our attendees the same software that NASA, TED, and the Clinton Global Initiative use to help their attendees develop meaningful business connections with other attendees throughout the year. Mark Sylvester (a co-founder of Wavefront Technologies) will give a crash course on how symposium attendees can use their smartphones to get the most out of IntroNetwork’s unique technology before, during, and until the next Symposium. (We encourage all attendees to complete a profile at as soon as they register for the symposium.) 

Speaker: Mark Sylvester, CEO, IntroNetworks

Optional Workshop: Executive Mentoring

In listening to our attendee feedback last year, we learned that while there are many events for executive networking, the opportunities to develop leadership skills are few.  With this in mind, this year the symposium is pleased to introduce an opt-in opportunity to participate in a mentoring program as a mentor, a mentee, or both.  Bob Berger, ACM SIGGRAPH’s Organization Development and Leadership Consultant, along with our partner IntroNetworks, will provide a framework for establishing and supporting mentoring relationships among our attendees.  At registration, attendees will be able to sign up to attend the Mentoring Information and Mentoring Networking sessions. The information session will provide a brief summary of best practices for mentors and mentees, and an overview of the support provided by the SIGGRAPH Business Symposium mentoring program after the conference. The Mentoring Networking session will provide an opportunity to meet with others interested in the program to find potential matches based on common interests and objectives. If you are interested in participating in the program, please be sure to complete your IntroNetworks profile prior to  the symposium or bring 10 copies of a short (one-page) bio describing your professional career, interests, and goals to share during the Mentoring Network session.

Speaker: Robert C. Berger, Principal, Robert C. Berger Consulting


Listen to a three-minute excerpt of Carl Rosendahl's featured talk at the SIGGRAPH 2012 Business Symposium.