Pixar has just released a new library into the wild called “OpenSubdiv”, a high-performance subdivision surface library made popular initially with projects like Geri’s Game.
OpenSubdiv is a set of open source libraries that implement high performance subdivision surface (subdiv) evaluation on massively parallel CPU and GPU architectures. This codepath is optimized for drawing deforming subdivs with static topology at interactive framerates. The resulting limit surface matches Pixar’s Renderman to numerical precision.
The full code is available over at Github and released under the Microsoft Public License, making it available for free commercial and non-commercial use.
VFX Soldier has a great piece on some of the recent discoveries in the ongoing Apple/Pixar/Lucasfilm investigation from the Justice Department. The allegation is that these three studios (and maybe more) had an illegal agreement to not poach each other’s employees in an attempt to drive wages down. Not only is this illegal, but it’s been a shock to many in the VFX Industry that saw Pixar and Lucasfilm as the ultimate employer in VFX.
Furthermore, consider how remarkable this case has become. Steve Jobs, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. For VFX artists these names are nothing but legends to us and could do no harm. Look at what the Justice Department’s investigation revealed. Behind our backs they colluded to drive wages down.
With the sudden passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs, the internet has been awash with stories of his great ideas and the many amazing products he brought to life at Apple during his tenure. What has been largely overlooked is his similar guidance of a little computer graphics company named Pixar, brought from a dying division of LucasFilm into the animation powerhouse we all know now.
It’s also clear that without Jobs’ stewardship, Pixar would never have given us RenderMan, either. It would have likely remained an amazing but proprietary render engine owned by the wrong corporate parent. Astonishingly, before Jobs came along, Lucas considered selling to divisions of General Motors and Philips. It was Jobs who encouraged the team to develop and sell its own software (after divesting the limping Pixar hardware business to Viacom). RenderMan sales helped fund Toy Story‘s extended production schedule.
Robby Ingebretsen of NerdPlusArt has a great video of what may be the first ever 3D graphics, a manually-digitized rendering of Ed Catmull’s Hand done back in 1972.
The film fell into my hands because Ed and my dad were good friends and office mates at the University of Utah in the 1970s where they were both pursuing upper graduate degrees in computer science. My dad was focused on digital audio and Ed (of course) on computer graphics. Either because of their friendship or possibly because they were renting time on the same computer, my dad ended up being responsible for the 3D morphing titles at the beginning and end of the film (his credit is at 6:15). I guess that entitled him to a copy of the 8mm reel (it was rendered to actual film; this, of course, predated any kind of real time digital playback by many years).
Seeing the hand scanned really makes you glad for tools like 3dsMax.
Disney’s D23 expo is underway, and a few little tidbits of upcoming Pixar releases is making the way through the internet. We already know of upcoming “Brave” and the Monsters, Inc prequel “Monsters University”, but now there are two new films on the horizon with surpsisingly short timelines:
While not much is known yet about the movies, there are a few details to be shared. The first movie—set for release on November 27th, 2013, just five months after Monsters University—will take place in a world where that devastating asteroid never hit Earth, and dinosaurs never went extinct. It will be directed by long–time Pixar animator and artist Bob Peterson, who more recently wrote Finding Nemo and Up, which he also co–directed with Pete Docter. Peterson has also lent his voice to numerous Pixar roles, including Roz from Monsters, Inc., Mr. Ray from Nemo, and Dug the dog from Up.
Pixar’s got some nice news this week for SIGGRAPH, the release of RenderMan for Maya 5.0 coming up this fall. It’s got lots of the new features from RenderMan Pro Server 16 and a few new ones as well.
RenderMan for Maya 5.0 showcases fundamental advancements in RenderMan’s ray tracing technology, including a new ray tracing hider, a radiosity cache, and physically plausible shading. In combination these new features allow artists to take full advantage of today’s high performance multi-core architectures and create photorealistic images with minimal setup, all within the artist-friendly user interface of RenderMan for Maya. Additionally, the process of shading and lighting has been dramatically accelerated with new lighting tools, including the robust re-rendering technology used in Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, as well as progressive ray-traced re-rendering for real time look development.
RenderMan for Maya 5.0 will be available for only $995, but a new student package will be available for $199/year along with some nice free Courseware educational material.
While Cars 2 is getting mediocre reviews in theaters, Pixar is showing off their next big production “Brave” with a new trailer.
The film is set in the Highlands of Scotland and the trailer opens up with some stunning flybys of the mountains and lochs, before showing us some more moody, ground-level, shots, all accompanied by a voiceover in an Scottish accent intoning what being “brave” means. Eventually we are shown the heroine of the tale: Merida, a princess who eschews her Royal parentage to pursue her dream of becoming an archer. There’s some more fabulous animation work in her curly red hair (surely more tangled than Tangled) and that of her horse – head over to stichkingdom.com for a gorgeous hi-res shot of Merida’s hair.
A new trailer from “DisneyToon” studios, not to be confused with Pixar, seems to be a Cars spinoff called “Planes”. Via a short film, probably accompanying next weekend’s “Cars 2″, the scene is set for this direct-to-DVD release.
Apparently Pixar has made a new short linking Cars 2 to Planes, but that seems to be their only official involvement — if you look closely at that logo above it says “Disney,” not “Disney-Pixar,” and I think that is a very telling sign of what to expect from this money-grabbing tie-in. Where will they go next? Jonathan reckons Trains, Anton then suggested they could go for a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Z says he’s, “…holding out for the inevitable DreamWorks knockoff: Helicopters.”
Update 4pm: Looks like Disney is trying very hard to take the trailer down.. Best bet is to just search youtube or google for “Disney Planes”.
Looks like we get a little sneak peak of Pixar’s newest short “La Luna”, to be premiered at the upcoming Annecy International Animation Festival this June.
“La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait,” reads the synopsis.
“A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family’s most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?”
Pixar has some initial concept art out for their next feature film ‘Brave’, their 13th picture. It’s a bit of a departure from their previous kid-focused films, moving more into the fantasy arena.
Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest — and serving as comic relief — are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), the surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane).
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