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Graphics Intel Technology

Intel and DreamWorks Working On Rendering Animation In Real-Time 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-your-grandma's-cartoons dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes "This week while speaking at the Techonomy conference, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told audience members that they'd formulated the solution for real-time rendering of animation for video. Katzenberg told the audience that they'd been working hand-in-hand with Intel in order to rewrite their software to take advantage of scalable multi-core processors, this allowing them to achieve advances that will, for lack of a better term, revolutionize the animation process."
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Intel and DreamWorks Working On Rendering Animation In Real-Time

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  • Wonderful (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:35PM (#38078644)
    Because we all want them to pump out more Shrek films as fast as possible amirite?
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:37PM (#38078668) Homepage Journal

      Because we all want them to pump out more Shrek films as fast as possible amirite?

      Now I have to eat lunch, again.

    • Yeah I can't wait for the magic mirror's own story. That'll be scraping the bottom.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Yeah I can't wait for the magic mirror's own story. That'll be scraping the bottom.

        Considering Shrek the 3rd for high concentrations of pure awfulness I thought they'd already passed through the bottom and were taking a crack at bedrock beneath the barrel

        • by Moryath (553296)

          No kidding. It's less that they need faster animation rendering, than that they need better stories.

          Learn from your competition - don't crank out crap just because it'll "sell", make sure you're on the right track to make something good every time. Pixar hasn't had a dud yet, and they freely admit to taking a number of their stories back to formula because someone said "hey this doesn't seem to be working" rather than pushing ahead with something crappy.

          Oh, one other thing: STOP it with the "must end with a

          • by fizzer06 (1500649)
            "don't crank out crap just because it'll 'sell'"

            What better reason is there to crank out crap?

            • "don't crank out crap just because it'll 'sell'"

              What better reason is there to crank out crap?

              True that! As long as they make millions of dollars per turd they'll churn out as much "crap" as possible. I don't blame them, I'd like to make millions of dollars.

              • by tehcyder (746570)

                True that! As long as they make millions of dollars per turd they'll churn out as much "crap" as possible. I don't blame them, I'd like to make millions of dollars.

                Luckily there are some people who put producing quality work above making money.

                • I'd like to hear more about this theory. I've heard of a land, in a far off world, where this may be true.. but I'm just so skeptical.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Wasn't it Jobs with Pixar that gave an interview about Disney, something about them only being able to mine past IP and come up with "crap like squirrels" or some such? All this will mean is Disney can crank out "(insert name of past character) story (insert number)" even faster. Wow, I'm soooo grateful Intel, really.

            Thanks for making dreck able to be produced at the speed of light, now they'll be able to crank out 5 sequels before the first line of toys is done being made out of PCBs in China! Thanks In

    • by need4mospd (1146215) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:54PM (#38078912)
      Maybe if rendering time wasn't an issue, they could focus more on plot, character development, and....ah who the fuck am I kidding. Maybe we could see more animated boobs.
      • Re:Wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @06:18PM (#38079234) Journal

        I think this has the potential to make animation more like live-action film. A director woking with live actors can order more takes if he's not getting the performances he needs from his actors or the shot's composition is less than perfect. This system sounds like it might give animators the same direct feedback, allowing them to more easily compose those perfect shots,

        • by Targon (17348)

          The sad thing is that we are talking Intel here. Both AMD and NVIDIA are so far ahead of Intel when it comes to rendering technologies, you have to wonder if Intel is just throwing money at Dreamworks to experiment with stuff Intel has. Do you REALLY think that Dreamworks would have initiated that relationship when there are better alternatives available?

        • Then why not just skip the whole animation process, and shoot live action?

          • You just don't get it. Until Arnold Schwarzenegger comes back to acting, we NEED this technology.

            Plus, I heard a rumor that once they get all of Cameron Diaz's moves, they'll throw her out of acting altogether and use the computer version for pennies on the dollar! PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR!
      • You honestly don't believe they don't have the entire thing storyboarded and written BEFORE they even get as far as starting rendering?

        Please.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          You honestly don't believe they don't have the entire thing storyboarded and written BEFORE they even get as far as starting rendering?

          Written yes, storyboarded, probably not. In fact, storyboards are on the way out - the new hotness is animatics - basically low-res renderings of the scene. Unlike a storyboard, which is a flat static comic-like picture, an animatic actually details the motion, which can include stuff like camera angles and such.

          Of course, this stuff is very crude so it can be rendered in a

      • Maybe we could see more animated boobs.

        Speaking of which....animating boobs seems to be incredibly hard. Does anyone have good resources on realistically animated boobs?

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      It's so they can rip off Pixar stories faster.

      Wish Pixar would learn something from Apple and stop announcing their movies 4 years in advance. Only takes Dreamworks about a year to churn out their knock-offs.

      I'll never forgive them for killing Newt.

    • Its all about South Park, mkey. I saw new raytraced version and it looks _awesome_, mkey.
      • by Talderas (1212466)

        And it's signed through 2016!

        But yes, given that South Park has a 1 week turnover time for each episode this appears to be a technology that they could take huge advantage of. That would give them a lot more time to polish their turds that they drop off on people's heads.

    • by antdude (79039)

      Dreamworks said they aren't doing any more Shrek movies. Yeah right. I am sure they will be back later. There is that spin off right now.

    • by DnaK420 (2468202)
      While i admit shrek 2-3 were not nearly as good. You can not deny shrek the original from being a quality film.
      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Sure we can! while it was cute and good at stringing together pop culture references frankly that is pretty much ALL it was, a long string of pop culture references. notice how something like Bambi or Fantasia didn't NEED constant pop culture references? that is because when you have a really quality movie you don't NEED a constant stream of pop culture references!

        In 30 years or less Shrek will seem as hack and dated as those 60s TV shows that threw in "daddy-O" and every other piece of cool at that secon

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          notice how something like Bambi or Fantasia didn't NEED constant pop culture references?

          Notice how much funnier Shrek is than either of those?

  • But as it would be in final production, with today's level of detail, that would be pretty cool.

    Probably have to chain down the voice actors, though it you want the full effect.

    • Yeah my first thought was "Why are animators rendering their sequences instead of just using the GPU viewports?

      Then I remembered that he had been talking this up in regards to Larabee last year. There's certainly a lot of room for improvement in parallelism. I'm working on the side for Caustic Graphics which is also working on a hardware card to make rendering more parallel and efficient. And I'm sure they would also love to get their hands on Knights Trail. But I don't know that Dreamworks is "revolu

      • Well, in the story on Knights trail, Intel said a select few companies got some of the existing prototypes. Guess we know the name of one of those companies.

      • For most purposes, GPU viewports are fine. It's just lighting where having a fast render would be helpful. Lighting is largely a process of adjust a little, rerender, turn that light up, rerender, move that a little right, rerender, put up the fog density a tiny bit, rerender... until you have it looking just perfect. You can't viewport it because viewports can't render lighting and fog in perfect detail, and the only way to make things just right is to keep trying until you perfect it.
        • Right but a Lighting TD isn't an animator. ;)

          The quote was that it takes animators a few days per 2 seconds of animation. *Animators* shouldn't need more than GPU lighting.

          Interactive lighting is a god-sent. I just used it on a TV spot a couple months ago for the first time with Brazil 3 and it was like upgrading to a car from a tricycle. Now I never want to go back to adjust, re-render, adjust, rerender ever again.

    • by rioki (1328185)
      Yea, since Blinn's Law [wordpress.com] won't apply here. Sure rendering in real time is a boon for animators since they can use it for previews but the final renders/composits will probably still take way to long for real time.
      • by Talderas (1212466)

        Why are you focused in animated movies? Think about how this technology can be extended out.

        South Park. They have a 1 week turnover per episode.

        How about if they can scale this technology out to the gaming market? That article points this out. Rendering is the road block to obtaining better and more realistic environments you need progressively beefier GPU to render more complex environments. Maybe if this technology takes off you will be able to see a reduction in the power requirements of GPUs that is mor

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are they going to remake Toy Story with the Crysis engine?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:39PM (#38078706)

    Homer: Uh, I guess. Is this episode going on the air live?
    June Bellamy: No, Homer. Very few cartoons are broadcast live. It's a terrible strain on the animators' wrists.

    • Well, it could be kinda cool for an interplanetary chat link - transmit a compressed description of the character's parameters (joints, facial muscles, etc.) and then render at the destination.

      • by VMaN (164134)

        Didn't they do that in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Fire_Upon_the_Deep for low bandwidth intership communication?

    • by Zorque (894011)

      Haha, I was thinking of the one where Homer invests in Animotion myself.

  • So management finally discovered SMP and threading about 20 years or so after it was introduced onto the types of systems all of these outfits have been using since the beginning of time?

    Sedate this fellow before he starts to perpetrate some more "management".

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      So management finally discovered SMP and threading about 20 years or so after it was introduced onto the types of systems all of these outfits have been using since the beginning of time?

      Sedate this fellow before he starts to perpetrate some more "management".

      No need.

      As good animation is dependent upon good writing and good voice work, all this could do is bring even lower quality animated items to the masses. Seems to me, when I look over the total production time of any feature (despite the apparent cookie-cutter approach to movies) the writing takes up a tremendous amount of time. Perhaps a gifted ad-libber could do something well, making it up as he/she goes along, but you don't see a lot of those.

      More likely to be of use in the board room or training than

      • by vlm (69642)

        ...(despite the apparent cookie-cutter approach to movies)...More likely to be of use in the board room or training than cranking out the latest Dreamworks flick.

        Perhaps its aimed at "shovelware" kids cartoons rather than movies... How high end does "scooby doo" animation have to be to get kids to watch?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Much better. My six year old has grown tired of Scooby Doo. She much prefers Bill Nye and Fetch! with Ruf Ruffman. On a side note, at least I can stand to be in the same room when she gets to watch TV.

          • by ackthpt (218170)

            Much better. My six year old has grown tired of Scooby Doo. She much prefers Bill Nye and Fetch! with Ruf Ruffman. On a side note, at least I can stand to be in the same room when she gets to watch TV.

            Great example.

            As another, I'd like to direct your attention to the last cartoons Warner Brother Brothers / Looney Tunes, up to 1969. I have many of these on DVD and they're pretty depressing to watch, compared to the wonderfully thoughtful cartoons of the 40's and 50's (Hillbilly Hare squaredance was inspired by the craze of Square Dancing in Hollywood at the time, attened my many of the studio's production crew - inspired!)

            Just gluing together pretty scenes with no interesting narrative won't do much, but

        • by Jeng (926980)

          Not sure about kids, but apparently adults will watch even the worst animation that is put on the cartoon network at night.

      • Take the counter-example to Dreamworls: Pixar. The average Pixar movie takes 4 years to make. The first 3 years are spent on plot, story, and character development. Voice acting is brought in at the end of 2 years. Rendering and animation is done in the last year.
    • by Bengie (1121981)

      I think what they mean is most of these animators may have had a top of the line 4-6core cpu that could only do 60-100gflops/socket, are now going to have access to a 50 core cpu add-in card that can do 1tflop.

      When you get a sudden change like that, you need some professional help to take advantage of it.

    • Well I think they're referring to writing code for Intel's MIC (Knights Tail). Which acts pretty differently from writing for a single CPU. It acts more like a computer cluster of networked computers than a multicore cpu.

      Also even with threading and SMP renderers have problems with parallel tasks when you start ray-tracing since each ray spawns more rays and those rays spawn rays and keeping track of them and loading the correct memory into L1,2 and 3 cache causes delays. You might start with 12 rays whi

    • by ameline (771895)
      It is *way* harder than you imagine. One of the smartest people I have ever met is very involved in this -- one of the principal engineers. It is an incredibly tough thing to achieve, and if anyone can pull it off, he can.
  • by vlm (69642)

    "allowing them to achieve advances that will, for lack of a better term, revolutionize the animation process."

    Maybe he's hinting at live realtime rotoscoping?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotoscoping [wikipedia.org]

    If you're unfamiliar with the technique watch the drug film "a scanner darkly".

    This would be completely appropriate for a live event like the republican debate; I don't think those guys make sense without being on "substance D" anymore. (note I used to be a hard core "R" before they went completely batshit insane a decade or so ago, so I'm allowed to talk about "us" using that kind of language)

    • Re:Rotoscope? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:59PM (#38078960) Homepage

      No, think more along the idea of Rango [imdb.com] - an animated film that used human actors as guides for the animators in terms of facial expressions and posing. Took quite a while to do.

      Hopefully this will bring some creativity to the genre as opposed to simply cranking out more Shrek reruns.

      • by Forbman (794277)

        "Rango" was more motion capture and translating to CGI animation. "A Scanner Darkly" was rotoscoped.

      • Isn't this the "Mars Needs Moms" look that bombed so badly just recently?

        • Motion capture, if not done just right, leads to the 'uncanny valley' - characters that look almost realistic, and yet just nonrealistic enough to be profoundly wrong in some way. It's unsettling.
  • Use a Kinect to do the motion capture and interface it with this and everything, even live action news can have the look and feel of a Dreamworks picture.....

    • That would actually be pretty damn cool if I could have Morbo doing the news for me, other people watching the same news feed could have different avatars reading their news for them.

  • Real time rendering can only be a human animator pipeline productivity tool, not a production rendering technique. Otherwise your render farm is 100% idle unless someone is changing something, so you're wasting virtually all your time and rendering power that could be going towards better quality. Slow rendering gives the hardware something productive to do while the humans are thinking/sleeping.

    I think Avatar claimed they spent something like 40 hours on each frame, so no way are we going from hours/frame

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Then again the 3D in Avatar was so good I would describe it as hallucinatory. Remember, it wasn't filmed on location, because it's location didn't exist anywhere except in a computer. 40 hours each frame for that actually seems reasonable when you look at the final product.

      The animation in the Incredibles or other animated films isn't anywhere close to the graphics of Avatar and I'm sure that that kind of animation could be rendered in real time. As it is Team Fortress 2 looks very much like the Incredi

    • Skilled animators are very expensive. If you can throw expensive hardware at the animators and give them a 50% increase in productivity, you can lay off 1/3 of your animation team - which will easily cover the cost of the hardware.
    • by omnichad (1198475)

      Or, the current state-of-the-art becomes the live GPU render preview they work from, and the server-farm still renders an even-higher quality animation. 40 hours per frame is probably an average of all the human hours spent - including modeling and texturing - which won't be sped up by this. You can imagine that if it were 40 hours per frame, then anything over 30 seconds would take years just to render.

  • From TFA..."The collaboration with Intel is bring us just that."
    • "The collaboration with Intel is bring us just that."

      I've been seeing some nice AMD ads in the credits of animated movies lately.

      Intel: "what can we do?"

  • Which is it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ibiwan (763664) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @06:01PM (#38079002) Journal
    One link says 50-70 times faster, and the other says 50-70 percent faster.

    Does anyone actually feel like watching the video to see what the claim is?
    • no
    • by jeffeb3 (1036434) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @09:52PM (#38081530)
      What's the difference?
      • What's the difference?

        If you make $100 per week, and they raise your pay by 50-70 percent you make $150-170. If they raise your pay by 50-70 times, you make $5000-7000. A rather large difference if you ask me.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        What's the difference?

        Why is this modded funny?

        Unless it's funny that most people think there isn't a difference between 50x faster and 50 percent faster.

        I don't find that funny, i actually find that scarey.

        Of course, maybe there's some internet MEME i'm missing here...

    • Is there a video? I just see two articles that very barely even explain the idea being covered. I don't see a video, just a picture. I don't think the author knew what he was talking about, he seems to be confusing rendering time and production time, (much as he confused percents and multiples ). They certainly don't go into any detail on how this increase is achieved, other than "we're working with Intel and we have written a new software"

      Bad news article is bad.
  • The number of very expensive US staff needed with the skills to get the "math" or fantasy art right?
    The detail needed to make it 4K and 8K ready needs many new Intel boxes?
    Or is it just a huge set of current product been linked together with some old distributed computing protocol at very new hardware prices?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @06:11PM (#38079142)

    Actually blender can do this in 2 ways!

    Since last Blender Conference last October, Cycles has been announced as the new render for Blender.
    This is a realtime renderer that uses Progressive Rendering and can render realtime on CPU, GPU or both!
    This can also be done for animation.

    But this is possible for quite a while, since blender also can do OpenGL rendering realtime, and you can use the BGE as a realtime viewport.
    So been there, done that, open sourced it

  • The more CPU time you got, the more quality. Real-time animation is not going to look as good as non-realtime animation. However, the good news of the article summary is that CPU's, and the algorithm they devised, are now fast enough for having real-time rendering that DreamWorks finds good enough to call animation quality! Nice.

    • by Targon (17348)

      And that is the flaw, this obsession with what a CPU can do. GPU power isn't just about rendering, it has far greater computational power for many things than the CPU at this point(due to the different pixel pipelines). You want to see something, try checking the performance of Folding@Home with GPU vs. the best CPU version, and you will see why the CPU isn't always the best place to get work done.

      • by Bengie (1121981)

        The problem with GPUs is how they get their performance and how that influences branching

        GPUs organize their 1000+ cores into groups. Each group gets streamed the same instructions. Say you have 1600 cores and 8 groups with 200 cores per group. If even one core has a branch within a group, the other 199 cores in that group stall and wait for that core to merge back into the common instruction stream.

        You can see how GPUs are great for some types of calculations and horrible for others. Intel's many core desi

  • probably have the paperwork filed already

  • No matter how fast a computer is, it is not going to speed up how long it takes an animator to animate.

    The animator still has to consider the movement they want to achieve, move the rig, adjust keyframes, etc., etc. This will always take time to do.

    I'm not sure that rendering is necessarily the thing that most needs sped up for the artist. What would help the artist more is speeding up of things that require simulation such as hair, particles, fluids, physics, etc.

    Rendering is just the button you
  • the uncanny valley. And yet we already have a solution - don't use DreamWorks crappy human animations or models.
  • There will never be a way to render out high quality renders in real time. There isnt enough processing in the world or ram to catch up to the production demands.

    Global illumination models with indirect lighting, where multiple bounces occur throughout the scene... through glass, through motion blur... etc. Its just not going to happen. The amount of real time displacement mapping that is required is simply not possible. The ram processing demands are going to be ridiculous. Its why we cant render them out

    • by johnwbyrd (251699)

      Mod parent up please.

    • by Bengie (1121981)

      We're slowly creeping up on photo-realism in games. Once we hit that point, it won't matter if "production" quality is mathematically better, because the brain won't be able to perceive the difference.

      At some point, the ability of the pixels will all be the same, it's the amount of pixels you can push that will be the difference. Production will have a benefit here as you can pre-render your scenes non-realtime to crazy high resolutions, but at some point we will also hit the limits of the human eye. Once w

  • This isn't a problem for animators. Getting the models and motion right requires only the quality of a good graphics card. It's tweaking lighting, shaders, and post effects, the "look", that needs many repeats of full rendering. That's done by colorists and post people.

  • Why not just start using FPS game engines?

    Don't most modern engines pretty much do this anyway on an interactive level? (scripting/setup of level aside)

  • Just imagine being able to put the camera in any spot you like. Hell, walk around the movie first-person style. Explore the world, triggering the rest of the movie as you go along? Branching story paths? Triggerable easter eggs?

    There's so much potential for this. Game and animated movie will start to blend even more, at high quality and at any desired resolution.

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