Day 2 was dominated by just four sessions
- Pixar's RenderMan use in Finding Dory
- Scrum in VFX
- Jungle Book
- Hellblade Real time EPIC DEMO
While I saw a lot of other great stuff today these four things dominated my thinking all day.
The first session on Day 2 was a preview of RenderMan 21 and the great workflow in Finding Dory. The new film, due out June 17, is Pixar's first fully RIS rendered film. Dylan Sisson, technical artist at Pixar used Finding Dory as the backdrop to examining the latest features in RenderMan and previewing new features coming later this year in RenderMan 21.
RIS is now the new future for RenderMan and Dylan ran through the various advantages and speed improvements that it represents. On Finding Dory the production found it rendered about 10 times faster and combined with the new denoising pipeline this meant vast scene complexity with manageable render times. The new overall pipeline at Pixar is labeled RUKUS and it is an ecosystem of the new RIS RenderMan, combined with Katana and the new Universal Scene Description (USD) which Pixar is open sourcing. While the standard RenderMan does not ship currently with USD, it is expected it will in the future.
RIS not only provided better images for the heavily volume based film, but the next release of RIS in RenderMan 21 will ship with a new set of production shaders. It was these standard feature film production shaders that Dylan demonstrated to a packed hall. We will have a more indepth look at the new Shaders closer to RenderMan 21 shipping. RenderMan is bridged with most major packages including Katana, Blender, Houdini and Dylan also previewed Cinema4D coming soon. Interestingly, the combined development work between Pixar and the Foundry on Katana has not only allowed it to become a standard part of Pixar's production RUKUS but has also lead to many new features in Katana that the Foundry have made standard.
The shots from Finding Dory clearly showed that RenderMan is able to offer better physical light simulations than ever before, while gracefully handling complexity. The BxDF shaders shipping as standard provide an incredible level of instant results (via the presets) and enormous flexibility for highly detailed work. RenderMan's shaders can handle either the stylised Pixar look or vfx photorealism. The production shaders encompass surface shaders, hair, Sub Surface Scattering (SSS), and production lights. The SSS and Marschner Hair are particularly impressive.
RenderMan 21 will be released in the second half of the year.
“We’ve recently begun to see some final images for ‘Finding Dory.’ It’s our first feature using RenderMan’s RIS ... and it’s just unbelievable. RIS has opened so many new creative possibilities for us; we’re creating images that were previously impossible for us to achieve.”
- Andrew Stanton, Director, Finding Dory
Each day at FMX I try to make it to as many of the smaller talks as I can - which are all in back rooms, away from the main halls. Today I attended the Scrum in VFX talk by the team from Cinnamon VFX, who are based from Kiev, in Ukraine. The session was packed, more than any other small side talk I have so far attended. I believe this is the only talk of this type at FMX, but there is clearly a real demand to explore new and more adaptive ways to schedule and manage projects. While issues such as producing and project scheduling may appear mundane to those not in production, the innovative work of the Cinnamon team was clearly of enormous interest to many people.
Cinnamon VFX was founded in 2006 as a visual effects studio for film and television they have collaborated with The Mill, Framestore, Liga 01, and more. This year the studio took part in creating a record seven American Superbowl spots.
VFX supervisors Alex Prihodko, Vadim Konov and Producer Julia Dychenko presented years of work in moving from a flawed old school project scheduling or management approach (that sadly is still widely used by many in the industry) to a new adopted Scrum approach. While many large vfx houses use Scrum for their R&D teams, it is rare to see a company adapting Scrum for general vfx and especially on short turn around TVC work. It is so rare , that most people told Cinnamon it was impossible, yet the team ignored the advice and made it work anyway. As a result of these new approaches the team rarely work weekends, jobs are more accurately budgeted and artists - normally resistant to change - were asking to have the program accelerated inside the facility. We will have an detailed case study look at their work coming up on fxguide after FMX. It would be great to see more time given to producer issues, especially such innovative and concrete case studies.
As a side note if you work in or know of VFX pipelines run along Scrum lines please email us, we are unaware of much wide scale use away from internal R&D teams.
For the Jungle Book we are separately publishing both my podcast interview with Production VFX Supervisor Rob Legato (Online now) and our detailed story on the film (this will be online tomorrow). This remains my favourite film of the year so far. Rob lead a lengthy session in the main hall with MPC's VFX Supervisor Adam Valdez and Weta Digital's VFX Supervisor Keith Miller. The film is both a visual effects masterpiece and a cutting edge example of Virtual Production. While Motion capture was used as part of the planning and shot design, this film is almost entirely made using some of the best key frame animation ever done of animals. All of this is combined with beautiful photorealistic rendered jungles. The hundreds of artists at MPC and Weta should be justifiably proud of their incredible work. See our main story online later today.
UE4 and Nijia Theory's Senua
Earlier this week I published a lengthy piece on EPIC's live action demo from GDC. Here at FMX the entire team repeated the GDC demo live here in Germany. While the GDC demo was great, the few more weeks between that demo and today showed with an even more tightly coupled presentation. The technical difference came from some key improvements to the solver and additional training data that was able to be generated in the weeks since GDC. The Demo worked perfectly and wowed the local audience. It is one thing to see or read about such a live action interactive demo - it is even better to sit and watch the actress and her digital avatar emotionally reacting interactively just feet away.
The demo was followed by an overview breakdown from Ninja Theory, Cubic Motion, 3lateral and Epic games. Thursday at FMX in the Digital Human's session, (that I am chairing), - Haarm-Pieter Duiker, VFX Supervisor and Brian Karis, Senior Graphics Programmer at Epic Games, will break down the Demo further and discuss the technical details of the face rendering and especially the eyes. It should be a great session.
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