If you're in L.A., you've probably heard about Siggraph, which is the biggest conference on computer graphics technologies. You would find new hardware, graphics & animation software, research presentations, courses and a job fair at the event. The best thing you can bring back from Siggraph is the DVD set of the event, which contains videos of paper presentations and demos of some of the software presented at Siggraph.
The conference is from 11th August to 15th August, while the exhibition is from 12th August to 14th August. Both events are at the Los Angeles Convention Center.