At SIGGRAPH 2011, on Monday 8 August at 1:45pm to 3:00pm, fxguide’s own Mike Seymour is moderating a panel hosted by NVIDIA with leading CTOs and R&D experts from some of the world’s greatest facilities. The panel will be exploring their experiences – from CPU to GPU – and how they implement GPU workflows in real productions. The panel will discuss issues, problems and key production time-saving benefits.

On the panel will be:

Hugo Ayala, Senior Research Associate, Blue Sky,
Dan Bailey, Lead Researcher, Double Negative,
Olivier Maury, Lead Rendering/Shading Engineer, ILM,
Sebastian Sylwan, Chief Technology Officer, Weta Digital,
Magnus Wrenninge, Senior Technical Director, Sony Pictures Imageworks

We spoke to Dominick Spina, NVIDIA, Sr. Product Manager, PSG Marketing Group, about the panel and NVIDIA’s role in GPU use in the film and effects community.


FXG: How did this panel come together – it seems to be such a great high end cross section of the top facilities?

DS: We consider these facilities among the top innovators and earliest adopters of our high performance GPU technology. They are solving difficult computer graphics problems and that is what drives our own engineers and developers.   We decided to create this panel to give the computer graphics community the opportunity to hear firsthand how this group of very smart experts in VFX and animation are solving complex workflow problems with the GPU and CUDA technology.


FXG: It would seem even from the line-up that NVIDIA is working with many if not all the top vfx houses?

DS:  At NVIDIA, we’re working with all of the industry’s top VFX houses. Internally we spearheaded an initiative called Project Limelight several years ago with the purpose of identifying key studios and VFX houses interested in collaborating on innovative new ways to use GPU hardware and its parallel programmability within film production pipelines. These VFX houses have really embraced this collaboration and are delivering the industry’s richest visual effects as a result.


FXG:  What is driving research in this area? Is it speed, price, flexibility – all of the above?

DS:  All of the above. Because of the nature of what’s happened in the visual effects industry — a demand for ever more sophisticated effects with smaller budgets and tighter delivery deadlines — facilities are always looking for ways to streamline their pipelines and work more efficiently. This seems to be the driving force for greater GPU implementation across our high-end customers in VFX and animation. Our customers in animation and visual effects push NVIDIA technology to its limits. As a result, our next generation products are being designed to meet the known challenges and of these leading VFX partners.


FXG:  How involved is NVIDIA with helping to solve some of the issues these companies face, after all this is the very bleeding edge of cutting edge, THE state of the art?

DS: Over the last ten years NVIDIA has built a world class organization to support customers who are using our Quadro and Tesla branded products in mission critical ways. Internally we call this our professional solutions group. They’re dedicated to creating and maintaining a thriving ecosystem with our OEMs, third-party software development partners and customers. We listen to the needs of our customers, provide targeted solutions and we stand behind our products. Our relationships are true partnerships with a common goal to create tools that can benefit the industry as a whole. We support open source projects initiated by our studio partners and we work with companies like Autodesk, Abobe, The Foundry and others to provide products that help artists be more productive and work more interactively.


FXG: Graphical Processing Units – GPUs – are they only used for graphics acceleration ?

DS: No, in fact they can be used for much more.  When we invented the NVIDIA CUDA architecture, which is the name of the parallel architecture used in our GPUs, we realized that GPUs could be used to transform the state of computing. The parallel architecture of the GPU allows our processors to deliver up to 10x the floating point performance over a CPU by itself. This has fundamentally transformed the computing landscape. GPU computing has been widely adopted within the world’s top super computing centers around the world and we’re only now beginning to see the impact this will have across the computer industry.


FXG: How committed to training and education is NVIDIA?

DS: NVIDIA’s commitment to training and education is evident in our yearly GTC or GPU Technology Conference. The GPU Technology Conference (GTC) advances global awareness of GPU computing and visualization and its importance to the future of science and innovation. Through world-class education, including hundreds of hours of technical sessions, tutorials, panel discussions, and moderated roundtables, GTC brings together thought leaders from a wide range of fields. In addition, contains a wealth of training and reference material for our customers.


FXG: How does Siggraph rate for NVIDIA – is it an important conference?

DS: Siggraph is very important to NVIDIA.  Computer graphics are our roots and the heart of our business.  Siggraph always provides us with a great opportunity to connect with a broad range of customers of course in VFX and animation, but also in manufacturing, CAD, automotive, academia and more. Plus, it’s always enlightening for us to see how GPU innovation has bled into so many new avenues year on year through the various panels, courses, talks and production sessions.


FXG:  How significant is the film /entertainment industry to NVIDIA?

DS: We regard members of this industry to be some of the most creative and technologically forward thinking minds in the world. They are constantly pushing the limits of rendering and continue to astound by creating mind-blowing imagery. The work of the panelists really speaks to the creativity and impact that can be achieved when the brightest minds are powered by latest in GPU technology.


Monday, August 8, 1:45pm – 3:00pm

VFX Trendspotting: Unlocking GPU Performance

Location: West Building, Room 220

For more information click here.