IBC2021 Accelerators: Creation of RT-3D Interactive Content for Multiplatform Distribution | Industry trends

One of the most interesting consequences of the dramatic increase in computing power in recent years, especially the increase in the power of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), has been the arrival of photorealistic CG and in real time.

As a result, the industry has followed a stratospheric curve, which has its roots in awkward render times even for polygons and primitive ends – currently – with real-time ray tracing and being able to generate scenes, quite convincing virtual animations and sets on the fly.

But while 3D output can now be generated in real time, the tools we use to create these animations lag behind and are still defined by mouse-based 2D production pipelines. That’s part of why the co-champions of one of the most popular Accelerator projects of 2020, CG Animation Production: New Immersive & Real-Time Workflows, return this year with a new challenge of creating transmedia content on the go. using cutting-edge XR tools and technologies with true real-time workflows.

VSchampion: Sky (project manager), Pixar, Cartoon Network / Warner Media, Unity Technologies, Unreal / Epic Games, RTE, Trinity College Dublin, Fox Sports, Facebook Reality Labs

Participant: Anchorpoint, Noitom, Pink Kong, Trick3D, Masterpiece Studios

  • More information on the Accelerator Media Innovation program, supported by Nvidia, is available here

The POC scheduled for IBC2021 in December will aim to bring RT-3D – real-time 3D – to life using a combination of immersive XR software and traditional production tools, with a focus on animation or output. photo-realistic live action. And it’s done a bit of a hit as the content streams using the major competing real-time game engines on the market, Unity and Unreal in unique ways, both working together again in this accelerator, will seek to show how the release can be optimized with time and budget savings that scale over “traditional” methods by using an XR-based pipeline.

“I’m pretty sure we’re the only public project on the planet that has these two people in the same room together,” comments project manager Matthew McCartney, head of immersive technology at Sky.

“But the heart of our efforts is not the business, but the academic aspect and we have created a collaborative space where people can share the advances – maybe that’s as important as any results we could. see.”

Meeting demand

The main effect of the pandemic on the animation industry has been an unprecedented increase in demand, so that many of the organizations involved are busier than at any time in their history. As such, the throttle effort is timely.

“A few years ago the only way to create a 3D resource was to sit on a laptop with your mouse and draw it, then manipulate it – it’s pretty complicated,” says McCartney.

“Using software like Masterpiece Studio or Tvori, both of which are integrated as participating partners, you set up your VR platform and suddenly sculpt – that ability to create a 3D asset in 3D for 3D output is very new. “

One of the main tasks of the accelerator is to accurately assess the viability of this pipeline. The effort is split between four creative teams, with the plan being that each will create two pieces of content for IBC; a production log and the content itself.

These will showcase the variety that can be achieved with this new generation of XR production tools and reveal the potential synergies between different workflows (which McCartney says tends to be a common pipeline up to. what they hit a game engine and begin to be intended for a specific use).

“We have these really big pipelines that are really good at making feature films and visual effects, but they’re like cruise ships – they’re really good at going in one direction but they’re very difficult to maneuver,” Matthew McCartney , Sky

RT-3D workflows bring a range of potential benefits to users. Speed ​​and efficiency are two of the most obvious, while also allowing artists to literally browse through their creations and identify problems more easily. They are also much more naturalistic to use. This means that entry barriers for new users are minimized, which is an important part of how the animation industry seeks to cope with the increasing demand for content. The learning curve for DCC (Digital Content Creation) tools remains high.

“There are a million of these tiny, tiny barriers you have to learn to create even a simple thing in a DCC tool,” says Dylan Sisson of Pixar Animation Studios.

“Using VR you can move the camera with your head. It actually lowers the barrier for a lot of people to get into digital art; an illustrator can now be part of a digital pipeline when he couldn’t before.

It’s changing all the time. New for this year is a test workflow that integrates motion capture into the workflow via Noitom, another new participant for 2021. This technology allows artists to quickly link movement to their models for animation purposes; they move their arm, their CG model does the same, and so on.

Empirical evidence

One of the key tasks of the Accelerator is to assess the benefits this confers and to quantify the benefits that an XR workflow can bring.

Grace Dinan is Viz Artist at Irish broadcaster RTÉ and explains how she is teaming up with attendees Pink Kong Studios, as well as other champions, Trinity College Dublin to do a formal user study that will compare costs, time and resources. used in XR Workflows with traditional DCC workflows.

“We are going to study with novices in animation,” she explains.

“We’ll give them a simple task like creating a snake moving across the ground, adding textures, lights and rendering it, and measuring how easy it is to learn and do. I think that’s where we’re going to get some really interesting results with their XR tools. We are also going to do a user study with experienced professional animators; Assign them a task such as facial or manual animation and see how well they perform it in both methods.

Along with this collation of empirical evidence, the Accelerator will also address the concept of loyalty. The new generation of XR tools are better than ever – and expanding their functionality with every point release – but as of yet, they’re not accomplished enough to deliver the highest quality CG on their own.

McCartney estimates they are between 10% and 5% less than the full article.

“Hair, for example, is very difficult to insert into strands using XR tools,” he says. The Accelerator will provide valuable feedback to developers, indicating where they need to focus their efforts and / or improve those integrations.

It is also worth noting that its advantages will not only be felt at the high end. While there is undoubtedly an investment to be made in new technology, as Sisson points out, projects the size of a new Pixar movie follow development cycles of around four years. This means that sometimes it’s easier for smaller, more nimble studios to function as early adopters.

“We have these really big pipelines that are really good at making feature films and visual effects, but they’re like cruise ships – they’re really good at going in one direction but they’re very hard to maneuver,” he says. he.

“A smaller studio has a better chance of being able to integrate these new tools and do something different. “


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Jenny T. Curlee

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