Yeah, I'm 2 months late, but I just came back from a post screening and I thought it was awesome. Now it's mostly centred around what artists in both the game and media industry have accomplished, but it also demonstrates the tools and algorithms that we as programmers provide them so they can perform their jobs more easily. It also opens your mind to how other people do things and how you might be able to take advantage of those techniques to improve the emotion and visual quality of your game. This year at Siggraph dealt a lot with physical based rendering, so a lot of the animation shorts demonstrate some fantastic results with that. In a lot of ways, it's also great for designers because it gives them insight on how to make games more emotional, rather than mechanical and lifeless. I thought I'd share some of my experiences.
Wrath of the Titans
I thought it was really cool that they used voxels for rendering and destroying the terrain. I never gave it much thought, but seeing those cubes in preview mode brought a smile to my face.
The layering techniques they used to augment the quality of the image was superb. Such an easy thing to do, adding overlays here and there to make a lifeless image breath life. The next time I look at a boring scene, I'm going to try the same techniques and see just how far I can take it (and how much fillrate the GPU can take
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Blizzard pretty much took home the show with their amazingly talented artists behind StarCraft II. The lighting and quality is just superb.
Most of the lighting quality in these shorts were simply great, and the cel shaded shorts were also very well done. In fact, some of them made me think of the game Journey. I think that kind of quality is really cool stuff and brings out a lot of emotion (a topic I think more and more games are going to start incorporating).
You can learn more about the animation festival here. You can also find the corresponding YouTube videos with a bit of searching.