VIEW 2009: Day 1: The Excitement Overflows
Switching halls, this time, for a more intimate, and incredibly crowded space, I attended a nerdy-techy session on Renderman. I have been a CG programmer, so I couldn't help the nostalgia conquering me when I heard them talk about shading channels, procedural shaders and programming languages. RenderMan, the Pixar Animation Studios's rendering engine by definition, became more powerful with each new movie released. The latest and greatest new features are in the field of Point Cloud Color Bleeding, an optimized Global Illumination algorithm, allowing users to render realistic lighting in scenes with little increase of rendering time, and a fast and precise displacement function. The high planes of Tepui, in Up, have been created with one plane only and one displacement shader only, creating all the terrain features and details. The speaker, who I wanted to know better, showed in front of our eyes the rendering of a forest of plants, much similar to the one showed in Up, taking a bunch of seconds on Renderman for Maya. When I searched for Dylan Sisson, the Pixar Real Talking Man in the room, I discovered his artwork, which by coincidence, I was dearly following and loving several years ago. Can you imagine his face when I approached him and I asked, “Where is the gallery with the procedural textured paintings?" Nice session with nice updates on Renderman and its application in the movie-making field.
The long and dense session on foundation of Character Animation by Melanie Beisswenger, of the Art University in Singapore was a beautiful introduction to the world of animation, its principles and techniques. I really appreciated the many audio-visual citations to explain some concepts. I took note of at least two classic films I didn't know.
The closing sessions by Rob Bredow and Danny Dimian of Sony Pictures Imageworks took the audience into a beautiful journey in the making of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. Two hours of movie previews, technical slides, VFX breakdown, and an illustration of pre-production process. The film looks gorgeous on the screen — the dimension and the action of some shots are really engaging and entertaining. From the accurate reporting of Rob we have been taken through a step-by-step analysis by Danny relating to some of the most complex and challenging scenes, such as: Flint's Lab (with big stage dimension, complex lighting), Meatball Asteroid (beautiful cloud rendering and animation), “Foodalanche” (with thousands of food pieces invading the city, realistic destruction simulation done with Houdini, ODE and Computational Fluid Simulation), explosions and much more. Interesting the training received by the CG staff, which studied real lighting as in the traditional filmmaking technique in one of the oldest lighting tool production facilities in Hollywood. By carefully analyzing how the real light behaves in nature they were able to use the proprietary rendering engine, Arnold, in a more effective way, to produce more realistic and believable images.
It was difficult to capture the essence of each session of the day, I am sure I missed some important ones, but this is a winning offer, you have so much available, in quality, that you don't know what to choose. As the first day at VIEW Conference 2009 I feel excited, exhausted and wanting for more.
Massimo Curatella has been involved in Computer Graphics in many ways during the last fifteen years. Some of them: writing, publishing, teaching, designining, visualizing, programming, producing, presenting.