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NVIDIA enhances Henson’s Digital Puppetry

Press Release by NVIDIA Santa Clara, CA (Aug 26, 2009) --NVIDIA Corporation congratulates a premier technology partner, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, on winning an Engineering Emmy at the 61st Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards, held Saturday, Aug 22 in Los Angeles. The Engineering Emmy was awarded for the remarkably innovative Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, a real-time animation system that allows performers to puppeteer and voice digital characters in real-time, dramatically reducing both animation time and cost. The revolutionary studio features multiple virtual camera production systems and real-time animation viewing systems, all powered by NVIDIA Quadro FX graphics processors. This proprietary animation system has been utilized for the production of the highly successful, Emmy-nominated animated children’s program “Sid the Science Kid,” produced by The Jim Henson Company and KCET/Los Angeles, and has enabled the Creature Shop to generate 40 episodes of HD computer-generated imagery within a year. “When we embarked on this project, we searched for the best technology out there, and NVIDIA quickly became our graphics solution of choice,” said Steffen Wild, director, Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. “Since then, a great partnership has emerged, enabling us to achieve this new form of creative expression.” In the studio, live performers are tracked to map their body movements onto digital puppets. Simultaneously, puppeteers who voice the characters also manipulate the facial motion and lip synch, using a special mechanical-input glove device developed for the right hand, and a joystick-type device for the left hand. This occurs with a director, camera and production crews exactly as it would on a live-action set, and comes together virtually, in real-time, using the Creature Shop’s proprietary software which marries the stage components with the show’s digital environments on the fly. This unique process can be replicated for any film, television, game or interactive production. “We have been developing our production pipeline for the past several years, based on the vision of Jim Henson, who started exploring the possibilities of digital puppetry back in 1989,” continued Wild. “Back then, computers weren’t fast enough to provide real-time feedback. However over the past few years, graphics processors have truly evolved. Today, our viewing software delivers an entire scene in real-time and its performance is driven by the NVIDIA Quadro FX solution.” “We are thrilled that The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is recognizing the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio for its remarkable engineering achievement,” said Dominick Spina, Digital Film Technology manager, NVIDIA. “By harnessing the power of the NVIDIA processor, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is truly driving innovation and materially enhancing the creation of television programming.” About Jim Henson’s Creature Shop: Jim Henson’s Creature Shop provides performed digital visual effects, animatronic creatures, animation and soft puppets to the international film, television and advertising industries. Based in Los Angeles and New York with satellite shop capabilities internationally, the Shop is known for designing and building some of the world’s best-known characters including Elmo from Sesame Street, Miss Piggy from The Muppet Show, the Baby from Dinosaurs, Rygel from Farscape and the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal. Other credits include Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Are We There Yet? Five Children and It, the critically acclaimed television series Farscape, The English Patient, 101 Dalmatians, and Cats and Dogs. A recipient of more than 9 Emmy Awards for its outstanding work building puppets for Sesame Street, the Shop also received an Academy Award for its visual effects work on the film Babe. Most recently, the Shop received a Primetime Emmy Engineering award for its work in developing the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, a patented control system technology that enables puppeteers to physically perform a computer generated (CG) character in real time. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop completed production of the first 40 episodes of Sid the Science Kid, an Emmy-nominated animated preschool series airing on PBS and featuring digital puppetry technology and season 40 of Sesame Street for Sesame Workshop. For more information, see www.creatureshop.com. About NVIDIA: NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) awakened the world to the power of computer graphics when it invented the graphics processing unit (GPU) in 1999. Since then, it has consistently set new standards in visual computing with breathtaking, interactive graphics available on devices ranging from portable media players to notebooks to workstations. NVIDIA’s expertise in programmable GPUs has led to breakthroughs in parallel processing which make supercomputing inexpensive and widely accessible. Fortune magazine has ranked NVIDIA #1 in innovation in the semiconductor industry for two years in a row. For more information, see www.nvidia.com.

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