It’s not every day you get to hear about the inner-workings of a visual effects studio, the projects they work on, and the tools they use to do it. But at SIGGRAPH Vancouver next week, you can.
Image Engine will be diving deep at SIGGRAPH into its recent work on several major productions, including the Netflix series Lost in Space, the Hugh Jackman-starrer Logan, and on a range of the studio’s cutting-edge visual effects technologies.
Here’s a look at what to expect to see at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Robot vs. Robot
Netflix’s reboot of the classic television series Lost in Space has proven to be one of the drawcard shows on the streaming service, and the final episode of season one – spoilers ahead! – featured a stunning moment when its two star robots faced off in brutal fashion. At SIGGRAPH, Image Engine VFX supervisor Joao Sita will break down how the studio pulled off this major effects sequence for the show.
The 45 minute talk is part of Autodesk’s Vision Series and will go through – all the way from previs through to the final shots – how Image Engine planned out, modelled, textured, animated and rendered the robots, including how they kept inflicting more and more damage upon each other.
It’s at talks like these that you get a rare insight into the workflows and processes behind visual effects production, plus a ton of VFX breakdowns often not shown anywhere else. Joao, whose other credits include Jurassic World, San Andreas, RIPD, Lone Survivor and Chappie, will reveal many of the software tricks and effects techniques used to pull off convincing robot surfaces, fight animation and destructive effects.
Autodesk Vision Series talk
Time and date: Tuesday, August 14th at 10.15am
Location: Autodesk Vision Series, Room 224, Vancouver Convention Centre
Learn the tools of the trade (and how to fake Hugh Jackman)
Image Engine’s experts in visual effects tools will also be sharing their skills with SIGGRAPH attendees at the conference; experts like senior texture artist Cheri Fojtik. She’ll be at The Foundry’s lookdev and lighting meetup to discuss the texturing of Image Engine’s digital Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) made for the hit film Logan.
In particular, Cheri will be revealing how the team used MARI as part of the process of making a photoreal Logan and the X24 clone for the movie, which all started with super high-resolution scans of Jackman and ended with meticulous lookdev and texture painting from Image Engine.
What parts of MARI were utilised? How were the high-res scans of Jackman used as a starting point? What were the best brushes that made the character fit the scene? Cheri will share that knowledge, and you can ask more about the work at the meetup, too. Cheri will also go into detail about that work in a presentation at The Foundry’s expo booth during the conference.
Lookdev and lighting meetup
Time and date: Monday, August 13th, 4-6pm
Location: Foundry Exhibitor Session, Room 115, Vancouver Convention Centre
Foundry Booth presentation
Cheri’s presentation will take place at The Foundry’s booth (#1125). Keep an eye on their website for the program of events.
Dig even deeper with Image Engine’s R&D team
Interested in what’s under the hood of the various visual effects toolsets used by the crew at Image Engine? SIGGRAPH affords the chance to take a deep technical dive into the studio’s software developments, including rendering of the many creatures, robots and worlds it builds.
In a talk titled ‘Practical denoising for VFX production using temporal blur’, Image Engine shader writer Daniel Dresser will be on hand to discuss the way the studio has approached denoising final ray traced renders during VFX production. Dresser and the team have come up with a way of combining several steps to reduce noise in renders and preserve fine details, but without resulting in excess blurring. Case studies from major Image Engine productions will be shown, too.
Practical denoising for VFX production using temporal blur talk (part of Clean up your room!)
Time and date: Monday, August 13th, 9am – 10:30am
Location: West Building, Room 301-305, Vancouver Convention Centre
You’ll also be able to find out more about Image Engine’s R&D work and latest software developments at the Birds of a Feather session on the free and open source Gaffer tool. Gaffer is an open source node-based application for procedural scene generation, shader authoring, rendering, basic image compositing, and pipeline automation – and it is developed at Image Engine in collaboration with GafferHQ.
If you head to the Gaffer session, it won’t just be for an insight into the tools, but there’s also the chance to talk directly to experienced Image Engine R&D Lead Andrew Kaufman and GafferHQ Architect John Haddon about software and pipeline design. In fact, the entire Image Engine R&D team will be on-hand for questions.
Gaffer: Open Source Lookdev, Lighting, and Automation (part of Birds of a Feather)
Time and date: Wednesday, August 15th, 11am – 12pm
Location: East Building, Room 11, Vancouver Convention Centre
Can’t get enough of Birds of a Feather? Image Engine R&D developer Don Boogert is part of the expert panel discussing Open Shading Language (OSL), now the de-facto standard modern high-end shading language for physically-based rendering.
Open Shading Language (part of Birds of a Feather)
Time and date: Monday, August 13th, 1pm – 2pm
Location: Pacific Rim 2, Pan Pacific Hotel