The Making of Life of Pi with NVIDIA GPUs and CUDA Power

Taking CGI to the Next Level

Many Hands Make Light Work

Of course, with Life of Pi being an extremely visually demanding film, one of the challenges faced during post-production is the sharing of the workload that comes with it. At R&H, this is solved with state-of-the-art technologies that innovatively ensure efficient collaboration. One such technology is its Academy Award-winning distributed render management system called Queue, which allows its teams to tap on various resources across the globe.

In addition to that, the studio also has its own visualization software like EVE, which allows artists to seamlessly collaborate with their supervisors on the same piece of work in real-time. This allows artists to discuss collectively when working on scenes, while supervisors are able to point out changes that need to be done going forward. It provides artists immediate understanding of the required work to be done, as well as instant feedback.

Another look at the compositing techniques used in the film for creating Meerkat Island

Besides collaboration, R&H also has a lot of underlying technologies that allow its offices around the globe to work together across borders, especially where communication, project management and movement of digital assets are concerned. One of these technologies is CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects), which the studio has launched in partnership with ChungHwa Telecom in Taiwan as a next generation cloud animation visual effects center for the VFX industry. Through the establishment of CAVE, R&H hopes to create a platform for content developers to access the best of breed cloud solutions, catering to the creative content market. It is interesting to know that CAVE’s infrastructure and facilities was successfully put to the test, when it was used in the production of Life of Pi for the rendering of CGI scenes.


Taking CGI to the Next Level

With NVIDIA GPUs powering their solutions, Rhythm & Hues have proven that they can do so much more with the right tools and the right technology in just three years.

According to Nathan Cournia, the Lead Software Engineer at R&H who wrote the code for the GPU to meet Life of Pi’s workflow and productivity demands, “Oftentimes, as with ‘Life of Pi’, those demands drive us toward custom GPU development. For R&H working on the GPU means working with NVIDIA; their driver stability is simply better than the competition.”

“The mandate in my department is to make things more efficient so that we can work faster and more cost effectively without compromising image quality. With each new show we create a priority list to guide our development,” he adds.

Cournia is presently writing many newer GPU tools at R&H and is currently working on a large-scale development effort called Crom, which makes heavy use of the GPU and is a brand-new platform on which R&H is developing more advanced pre-lighting, lighting and compositing tools. R&H is now integrating its current CUDA toolset into the Crom platform, which has been deployed for the studio’s current projects including 300: Rise of An Empire, R.I.P.D. and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters among others.

Life of Pi ™ and ® 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

All Life of Pi images courtesy of Rhythm & Hues Malaysia.

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