infoTECH Feature

April 26, 2011

Rio's Iconic 3D Character Animated by NVIDIA

Rio, a 2011 American 3D computer-animated film and Blue Sky Studios' sixth feature film has become the talk of the town thanks to its splendid animated stereoscopic 3D characters which come to life by way of NVIDIA (News - Alert) Quadro professional graphics solutions. With a $40 million opening weekend, the film has become the biggest debut of 2011 by topping the box office.

Under the distribution of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Rio stars a computer generated Macaw named Blu, who ends up at the heart of a wild adventure in Rio de Janeiro with a cast of street-smart friends and foes. The animated feature was produced in stereoscopic 3D, and Blue Sky Studios introduced a host of new tools into their pipeline which benefit from the speed and flexibility of Quadro graphics processing units (GPUs).

The worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies and Academy award winning Blue Sky Studios has introduced a breakthrough NVIDIA Quadro professional GPU architecture for notebook computers that enables entirely new graphics and visual computing capabilities for professionals who require uncompromised mobility.

“After attending the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference, I learned how other production studios were leveraging the capabilities of the NVIDIA Quadro GPU,” said Hugo Ayala, Blue Sky Studios Senior Research Associate. “With that knowledge, we immediately set out to integrate advanced parallel processing capabilities into our workflow at Blue Sky.” Rio was animated and produced in stereoscopic 3D, so reviewing image sequences required massive computing power. Ayala ported Blue Skys’ in-house viewing application, called “Roll,” to the GPU, allowing Blue Sky artists to preview their renders in stereo.“With the GPU optimization of ‘Roll,’ Blue Sky artists not only saved time, but also reduced the amount of storage required to view frames, since the need to process, down-res, create and store stereo pairs for viewing had been eliminated. “Without Quadro, it would have been impossible for us to review full film resolution HDR (News - Alert) images in stereo in real time,” continued Ayala.“NVIDIA promotes a collaborative exchange of ideas within the professional animation and visual effects community through our annual GPU Technology Conference, and it’s rewarding to see how that’s paid off with Blue Sky,” said Dominick Spina, digital film technology manager, NVIDIA. “It’s amazing to see how far Blue Sky has advanced with their GPU integration, and how much time the studio has saved by porting a few of their tools to run on Quadro.”

Crowds of CG characters are featured throughout the film to populate backgrounds and fill the stadium of the “Sambadrome,” in a scene recreating Rio de Janeiro’s famed Carnival. To create these crowd sequences, the Blue Sky team modeled sixteen different body types and several other character variations that were then mixed and matched.“With Quadro support, when we had a sequence with tens, hundreds, even thousands of characters, the colors of clothes and other features could be thoroughly art directed without having to wait for a render to see what the clothing distribution would look like across a large crowd,” explained Ayala. “We were able to turn around up to a dozen crowd shots in a day—something that in the past would have taken several weeks to achieve.”

Neelam Malkani is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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