Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pixar's GTC 2016 Talk - Viewport, Workflow, and Hydra

If you haven't already (and have 45 mins to spare), it's well worth watching Pixar's recent talk at the GPU Tech Conference (GTC) 2016, where they discuss some very juicy and interesting topics.

These include a very detailed look at their in-house animation tool Presto, and all the GPU/OpenGL4 viewport magic, workflow stuff, and the announcement that they're open sourcing their fancy viewport renderer (Hydra) as part of the USD (Universal Scene Description) release later this year. Exciting stuff!

In particular, I was particularly impressed by how smoothly they managed to get all that complex geometry to render + update in the viewport (just look at all those fish animating at 30-60fps!). The "workflow modes" and the way that the other viewport configuration options work is also something that are certainly good inspiration for our viewport/ui folks to mull over...  It's also pleasing to see that the animators at Pixar are finally getting to actually see the characters in a somewhat closer-to-final appearance than the frankly shocking cheap-shaded proxies they've been working with for all these years!

I must also say, that the Pixar-fan/animation-geek in me absolutely loved seeing more of Presto in action. For instance, I now know that the spreadsheet dopesheet used by animators to key + pose the avars is called the "MDT". I'm also now really curious to see more of these on-character manipulation widgets in use - not the basic "highlight a chunk to move it" (which we've known about for about a decade now at least IIRC), but rather, I'm curious about some of those 3-circle-widget overlays thay would show up when hovering over the mouth corners. Intuition suggests that either that's just a fancy widget for those controls, OR that they've wired up some of the sketch stuff to that widget for easier shaping of the mouth that way. But... at this point, it's just pure speculation on my part!

And putting the icing on the cake was to do so with the Finding Nemo/Dory characters (yay!) - as I've said on a few occasions, I still remember watching the Making Of docs on the Finding Nemo dvd, and really loving seeing the facial tests of the rigs.... it'd be really cool to get to play around with these rigs some day ;)

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