Visual Effects: From Film to Real-Time
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This talk will cover recent trends and techniques in state-of-the-art feature film visual effects. As a recent case study, I will talk about the "sandstorm" effects system which was developed at Sony Imageworks for Spider-Man 3. Sandstorm was used to model, animate, simulate, and render hundreds of millions of sand grains per frame to create the Sandman character. Sandstorm was designed to push the limits of visual fidelity, and therefore complex tasks took several hours of computation on high-end CPUs. The enormous gains in computational throughput afforded by modern programmable GPUs allows for many of these techniques to be run interactively on consumer-level GPUs. I will present recent work at NVIDIA developing fluid simulation, volume rendering, and ray tracing systems that deliver quality comparable to that seen in feature films, but at interactive rates. The talk will conclude with a discussion the issue of convergence between films and video games, and important research topics to the future of both.
Jonathan Cohen is a Senior Research Scientist at NVIDIA, where he develops methods for using NVIDIA's massively parallel GPUs for scientific computing and real-time physical simulation. Prior to joining NVIDIA, he spent several years working in the Hollywood feature film visual effects industry, where he developed software for films including "spider-Man 3" and "the Chronicles of Narnia." He was awarded a Technical Academy Award in 2007 for his work in fluid simulation for visual effects. Jonathan received an undergraduate degree from Brown.