NVIDIA Graphics Technology powers each of 2010 Academy Award Nominee for VFX

By ANIMATION XPRES... | 11 March, 2010 - 12:04

    Each of the films nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects in this year’s competition depended on NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics to power their stunning special effects. The nominated films— “Avatar,” “District 9” and “Star Trek” —all delivered unprecedented levels of sophistication and realism to the screen in the form of computer-generated fantasy and science-fiction worlds. The winner will be announced at the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony on March 7th at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.

    Weta Digital, of Wellington, New Zealand, served as the primary visual effects vendor on “Avatar” and is a longtime NVIDIA customer. It deploys both Quadro professional graphics solutions and Tesla high performance computing solutions in its visual effects (VFX) production pipeline. The computational complexity of its “Avatar” shots was significantly higher than any project Weta had ever faced.

    “We needed to think about rendering in a completely different way, given the complexity of ‘Avatar’,” said Sebastian Sylwan, Weta’s head of research and development. “By working together with NVIDIA, we found a way to render incredibly sophisticated scenes in far less time, giving artists the critical ability to freely experiment with different effects and iterate faster.”

    Engine Design, Inc., of Vancouver, Canada, led the visual effects work on “District 9,” which seamlessly integrates an alien race into gritty documentary-style footage of Johannesburg, South Africa. The firm deployed nearly 100 NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics cards in Linux-workstations in producing every alien shot in the film.

    “The decision to standardize on NVIDIA Quadro graphics for ‘District 9’ and other film projects was very simple-they just work really well,” said B. Terry Bates, Head of Systems, Image Engine Design, Inc. The Embassy VFX, based in Vancouver, completed the climactic Exo-suit sequence in the film and also used NVIDIA processors.

    “We were faced with animating a very complex, high-poly count character featured in over 100 shots,” said Simon Van de Lagemaat, the firm’s CG supervisor. “NVIDIA graphics cards were essential in giving our artists the speed and feedback they needed to produce amazing animation on an extremely tight deadline.”

    Industrial Light & Magic, of San Francisco, produced 850 of the approximately 1,000 shots in the most recent “Star Trek” films and had created visual effects for six of the previous 10 editions in the series. The work required extensive demotion of planets, the creation of the Starship Enterprise and other spacecraft and creatures, as well as extensive digital matte paintings.

    “This project marked our most ambitious effort on a 'Star Trek' film thus far,” said NAME, TITLE, ILM. “We tapped the iconic references from the series and previous films, and really took them to the next level driven by JJ Abrams’ creative vision.

    “Our teams at ILM have established a solid development partnership with NVIDIA to help break through the old boundaries of visual effects technology, and reach new heights of VFX production. In the facility, there is an NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics solution driving every one of our artists’ workstations in order to deliver a true out-of-this-world experience for ‘Star Trek’ fans,” he said.

    NVIDIA’s Dominick Spina, technology product manager, NVIDIA, said the company was proud to play a role in these achievements. “The intricate and immersive computer generated worlds created by this year’s visual effects nominees have amazed theater goers and shattered box-office records. While we don’t know which set of artists will take home the Oscar, we do know that NVIDIA is honored to be fully behind all of them. We are working hard to develop technology to help the visual effects industry evolve its craft in ways that have not yet been imagined.”