NVIDIA Collaborates With Weta to Accelerate Visual Effects for Avatar
A shot that exemplifies the advantages Weta achieved with PantaRay can be seen in the movie’s promotional trailer <http://www.youtube.com/officialavatar#p/u> . The shot from a helicopter looking over a huge flock of hundreds of purple creatures flying over water, with a massive tree-covered mountain in the background was pre-computed in just a day and a half using PantaRay. “That shot would have taken a week with previous methods,” said Weta’s Fascione. “The fact that it was so much faster with PantaRay meant that we were able to create a much more beautiful shot – you can see fine detail on every bush, every leaf. The color separation between distances is clean and clear. The computational power of PantaRay made the difference.”
When running on GPUs, PantaRay’s ray tracing process has proven to be up to 25 times faster than on CPUs. “If we think about how long it would take to handle this much complexity with traditional methods, we’re probably close to 100 times faster,” said Sylwan.
Weta Digital plans to incorporate PantaRay running on NVIDIA Tesla GPUs into its pipeline for the upcoming Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson film, Tintin, as well as exploring new ways in which PantaRay and GPUs can further accelerate its overall visual effects pipeline.
According to Martin Hill, head of shading at Weta Digital, “Because the complexity continues to scale on each project we do, the amount we need to render continues to multiply. And the more complex the rendering, the harder it is to light the scene. PantaRay makes the complicated scenes as easy to light as the simple scenes.”
“Partnerships with groups like Weta’s R&D team bring us to the absolute bleeding edge of production technology,” said Dominick Spina, digital film technology manager for NVIDIA. “Working with Weta on Avatar was an amazing collaboration. Nothing in the development of PantaRay was an abstraction. It was 100% production driven.” Spina added, “We’ll continue to collaborate extensively like this with top visual effects and animation companies to bring more and more of NVIDIA’s expertise to bear on solving the most complex production technology problems in order to free artists to create at higher levels.”