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      #1  
    Old 07-02-01, 11:18 PM
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    Default Final Fantasy Type Animation Techniques

    You've probably all seen the preview for the new Final Fantasy movie. The animation is without a doubt amazing and just blows me away.

    Does anybody know what kind hardware and/or software they use for these type of things?

    How long does it take to render each frame?

    As for hardware I want to know as intricate as possible what they use, videocards, processors, harddrives, memory, etc, etc, etc.

    What are prices on some of the systems they use?

    How many systems are being used to render and create frames/animations at one time?

    Do you think the technology being used will every become availabe for mainstream desktops which will allow games to be played in those graphics processing in real-time?

    Give me the low down.

    If you guys think this doesn't belong in this forum, just let me know and I'll move it. I wasn't sure if this would fit into hardcore techies, as it seemed border line to me.
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      #2  
    Old 07-03-01, 04:33 AM
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    I remember seeing a special on TV that this film was created using Linux believe it or not. The article was regarding film companies switching from the expensive cray computers to the free linux systems and receiving a performance boost as well. I'm not sure as to the actual software but if I see a link I'll post it here!
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      #3  
    Old 07-03-01, 04:50 AM
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    I know they used Maya, probably Maya 3 (I think Maya 4 is relatively new).
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      #4  
    Old 07-03-01, 07:48 AM
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    Oh I'm sure they use programs like Maya, Lightwave3D, 3D Studio Max, etc. There's no doubt in my mind about that.

    Rob, in terms of the linux systems they are using that are giving them a performance boost, what kind of configuration are they running, and what kind of configuration is it compared to one of the cray super computers they used to be using?

    What are the price comparisons?
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      #5  
    Old 07-03-01, 08:06 AM
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    Yeah, well, they use Maya, almost exclusively. At least, that's what I heard from a TV interview with one of the FF developers
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      #6  
    Old 07-03-01, 08:12 AM
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    I'm glad to hear they use Maya so much in the industry now, that's the main program we'll be studying in my major
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      #7  
    Old 07-03-01, 12:06 PM
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    Laughing Maya :p


    Software used for high end and production animation is mostly made in house, like Lucasfilm or Pixar, or Disney.... Most other high end productions are done with Maya, Softimage/XSI, and to a lesser degree, Side Fx Houdini (and rarely, Electric Image Animation System). For 2D animation, one uses US animation, Animo etc...

    Hardware for top notch productions is SGI based, mostly on the Mips range of processors with SGI graphics. On the middle level to low level platform, you have Dual and single processor Xeons or (now) Athlons and loads of RAM and very fast graphics cards like the 3D labs range, or the FireGl range or now, the Nvidia Quadro range of cards (GeForces are not much slower though )

    The hard disks are mostly SCSI, but with ATA100 now, I think one can make do with goodly speed.

    Frame rendering depends on the equipment and/or the scene complexity as well as the type of rendering being used (i.e if you use raytracing or radiosity based rendering, it increases rendering time significantly)

    Number of systems can depend on the complexity of the project and the manpower involved. For EPISODE1, over 200 SGI workstations were used full time (50 TB of data passed in a single day between the network!!!)

    The technology we're referring to is already here, but it is on a much lower scale.....for example, you can't expect a card that gives great frame rates in Q3 (about 10000 poly's per frame max, to handle 5,00,000 poly's in real time.....I think it is going to take a long time to accomplish)

    FF was done in maya, but one thing you should know is that most of the texturing was done by hand!!! (almost always, in most productions, the best work is hand painted)

    (btw, cray is dead, and your athlon and Geforce is more powerful than the 5 year old cray )
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      #8  
    Old 07-03-01, 07:20 PM
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    Welcome to the boards Aamir - it's about time you ventured out this far! I typed cray but was really thinking SGI. Go figure.

    It's amazing that they were able to finish this movie considering the power problems in Hollywood these days
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      #9  
    Old 07-03-01, 09:53 PM
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    What all animation studios use for rendering such huge projects is clusters. They take hundereds of top of the line systems load them with whatever OS and clustering software they require and can use such techniques as parallel proccessing to get a job done in a 'reasonable' amount of time.

    Buy clustering many computers lets say 100 1Ghz Machines with 1GB of RAM each, they end up with a supercomputer that runs at a realistic 100Ghz with 100GB of RAM(Logically of course)! Now imagine running all of this on a Gigabit Ethernet network and your talking about blazing speeds here. All under the power of a shell linux OS and clustering software (beouwolf perhapse?) makes this all possible.

    This is a very cool suff, and sometimes very confusing when learning. I still am trying to work out the specifics of it myself.

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      #10  
    Old 07-05-01, 02:02 PM
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    Default Re: Maya :p

    Quote:
    Originally posted by Aamir
    Hardware for top notch productions is SGI based, mostly on the Mips range of processors with SGI graphics. On the middle level to low level platform, you have Dual and single processor Xeons or (now) Athlons and loads of RAM and very fast graphics cards like the 3D labs range, or the FireGl range or now, the Nvidia Quadro range of cards (GeForces are not much slower though )
    Not likely. Quoth Pixar, upon the release of the GeForce 3...If you think that this little toy can handle Pixar-level rendering in real time, you're sadly mistaken.

    Seriously, the O2 systems and most other SGI hardware has a lot of very highly-optimized pipelined graphics hardware that just throws down the AGP bus.
    Quote:
    The hard disks are mostly SCSI, but with ATA100 now, I think one can make do with goodly speed.
    Probably not. SCSI has faster response speed and much higher throughput. ATA100 can hit about 20MBps at best. 320 SCSI LVD has a tendency of breaking 100MBps. ATA-RAID can handle some video editing, but if you're serious, you don't use IDE.
    Quote:
    Frame rendering depends on the equipment and/or the scene complexity as well as the type of rendering being used (i.e if you use raytracing or radiosity based rendering, it increases rendering time significantly)

    Number of systems can depend on the complexity of the project and the manpower involved. For EPISODE1, over 200 SGI workstations were used full time (50 TB of data passed in a single day between the network!!!)

    The technology we're referring to is already here, but it is on a much lower scale.....for example, you can't expect a card that gives great frame rates in Q3 (about 10000 poly's per frame max, to handle 5,00,000 poly's in real time.....I think it is going to take a long time to accomplish)
    Indeed. Plus, when you factor in other rendering formats and techniques like NURBS...A GeForce3 doesn't accelerate NURBS. The high-end hardware can, and does. Diamond's FireGL cards were designed to handle OpenGL, HEIDI, and a small handful of other rendering specifications. DirectX was an afterthough. And Microsoft is foolish if they think that DirectX can EVER be a serious platform for anything but games and low-end multimedia.
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      #11  
    Old 07-06-01, 02:14 PM
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    Default Re: Re: Maya :p

    Hello there, I agree, but here,(check what I said! I said 'for the middle to low end') we were talking about something that you and I can do on the home PC, and you might know that SGI specifically tied up with Nvidia to integrate with their range. As far as Pixar is concerned, they have a schedule and near free hand to do the work and how they do it is not with the PC (which is zilch for real time rendering)! the way they do it is through render farms (like one of our friends above pointed out). SCSI cannot be beaten as far as raw speed is concerned, but then, it is not always that necessary when you have loads of RAM!! that's what 3D needs for sure! For example, on the movie I'm working on right now, I have a scene which contains over 3,00,000 polygons, now, having 256 MB of RAM is so insignificant, because the virtual memory usage in my machine comes to around 800MB for a single frame of rendering!! and we all know that nothing is slower than the hard disk swapping.......so in such cases as mine, SCSI would be great! while, if I had a GB of RAM, the scene would work pretty good for me (not in real time though!)

    (and Rob, I don't frequent the forum a lot, since I don't have the necessary time, but do take a look in from time to time, hopefully I will be able to rectify it )
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    Last edited by Aamir : 07-06-01 at 02:19 PM.
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      #12  
    Old 07-28-01, 06:35 PM
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    Default Re: Re: Re: Maya :p

    Quote:
    The hard disks are mostly SCSI, but with ATA100 now, I think one can make do with goodly speed.


    ATA100 is in NO way comparable to SCSI in ANY way...

    The SCSI interface is independent, it does not use CPU power to perform read/write operations... The ATA interface (no matter what speed) always requires CPU power to perform it's read/write/seek tasks... And now you are considering serial ATA, well, it is still second to SCSI as it still uses the CPU power to perfom the seek, read, write operations...

    For a heavy workstation, ATA100 is not the worst solution, but it is not even considerable...

    SCSI is so superior to ATA, i cannot even begin to compare it, and if you consider RAID... well, forget it, ATA is the BIG looser in that config...

    They used Maya and Softimage along with a lot of other programs, they did not use ATA (LOL) they used the high end disk clusters...

    Patrick
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      #13  
    Old 07-29-01, 12:02 PM
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    I agree, ATA is in no way a comparison to SCSI in these terms...
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      #14  
    Old 07-30-01, 12:15 PM
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    Red face eeeech!

    Will my friends PUHLEASE read the entire gist of what I said and not a single statement in itself??

    In my next post, I wrote
    "SCSI cannot be beaten as far as raw speed is concerned, but then, it is not always that necessary when you have loads of RAM!! that's what 3D needs for sure! "

    So, does that answer anything? because I was talking about personal and mid level stuff disk drives for low end 3D work. High end invariably requires raid configurations! there's no escaping that fact. However, for a personal workstation, it makes sense to use ATA drives at times.
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      #15  
    Old 07-30-01, 05:51 PM
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    Aamir,

    When considering a workstation setup, IDE is not even a choice, i have built workstations with more than 4GB of RAM, it really does not matter, if it is not in the cache, CPU power will not be spared if it is on an IDE channel, for any workstation setup, use SCSI, and if you are considering RAID, forget IDE, it is more CPU dependant, even the HW solutions...

    SCSI isn't that expensive when you are building a workstation, IDE does not have to be a choice... And ATA100 is NOT faster than IDE66, only in bursts, and that is from cache from large cached IDE disks.... So forget ATA, go SCSI, you will not be sorry...

    For servers, i recommend RAID 5 with lots of cache (128-512MB) for workstations i recommend (R)AID 0 (NO, it is not RAID, no redundancy) and a good backup solution...

    SCSI is the only choice in both examples...

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