Friday, March 30, 2007

Distributed render (a la seti@home)

Render queue management softwares are usually aimed at Local Area Networks, and are not suited for internet, because of:
.- Bandwith limits: 3D scenes and textures can be quite big so the time savings form getting additional processing power would be lost because of transfer delays.
.- Unreliability: If a remote machine or network goes down, even momentarily, stopped tasks have to be relaunched on the remaining working part of the system, and sometimes these last frames can be a real pain to be finished...
.- Security concerns: Although there are several web-interface based render queue systems available, I don´t think they are designed to be installed on a publicly reachable site. Of course you can password-protect them but even so you would need to open specific ports on the different routers/firewalls to enable the communication between client and server, and sometimes this simply is not possible because of the companies policies.

Anyway, if these drawbacks can somehow be cleared, this opens a whole world of opportunities for small projects. Just do the maths: How many hours is your computer on, but not using its processing power? If this time can somehow be shared between users, the end result is an increased rendering power for everyone. I am thinking of some sort of "MHz exchange system" where you could end up getting back the CPU time you have given first...

This, of course is nothing new, and has already been thought off, you can read more about the general concept in Grid Café.

In this sense, BOINC is: (from their web) "a software platform for distributed computing using volunteered computer resources".

Under BOINC´s infrastructure there are several projects, one of them is BURP (from their web) "Aims to develop a publicly distributed system for rendering 3D animations".
It currently has a Windows Blender client, but "Please note that this project is still in its testing phase and does not yet provide the security and stability of a full-blown BOINC project"

A similar idea, but structured in a P2P fashion, is behind GPU a (from their web) : "a Gnutella client that allows users to share CPU-resources (...) Right now, this client allows rendering of Terragen movies."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

PSD2Mat a Photoshop to Max/VRay Material converter

Anselm wrote to announce Georg Dümlein´s release of , a PSD to Max/VRay Material converter, "a highly improving pipeline tool for Texturing and Shading Artist. PSD2Mat is a production proven connection between Adobe PhotoShop® and Autodesk 3D Studio MAX®. This maxscript converts layered PSD Files into a Scanline or VRay-Material. Named layers are converted to bitmapfiles and assigned to their respective material slots."

Features:
Autodetection of map names in layered PSD files.
Versioning
Configurable with 'textfiles'
Photoshop Template Helpers
...

Georg Duemlein aka RDG developed this tool.
Anselm v. Seher-Thoß aka PsychoSilence was the advisor in this project.
Last but not least we'd like to thank Keith Boshoff (Wahooney) whose PSD2Material was the cornerstone for developing this tool.

(Update 2) Site statistics and call for participation

I have been checking the record of visits to the site, and I find it very encouraging to see that almost 2/3 are recurring visitors. Thanks!

I would appreciate even more receiving some sort of feedback from you, please use the "send a comment" link to write something back to the site.

I am going to start writing my paper very soon, and suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Omemo

Omemo is (from their web) "a distributed storage network that is fast, scalable and anonymous, allowing users to not only search-download from it, but also storing their files persistently on this virtual drive, and organizing its contents in folders. Users of omemo will not share files (0’s and 1’s). They will share free space (only 0’s), more accurately, a percentage of their hard drive’s free space. Omemo is a peer-to-peer network that takes all that free space and creates a unique and immense virtual hard drive. Then users can read and write on it, just like they do with their local storage media. "
This project seems a very promising solution for file sharing in a collaborative 3D production.
I have asked for more details about it, like latency, redundancy, etc.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Call for help in 3D forums (update)

Some time ago I asked for help with my research on several 3D forums.
I got over 200 readings, and even a couple of replies!
This is an updated resume of the reactions.

On vfxtalk jah commented about a very interesting and apparently similar project: Jahnet, related to the multi-platform free open-source video editing software jahshaka
More on that when I check it through.

I also received a private reply from someone who is writing a book on the subject, this can be quite interesting as well.

On the sidefx forum, Edward pointed out a new side of the issue:

"You should think about interchange as part of the problem. Take a look at Collada.
(This company offers free plugins for 3D programs)

The idea of "digital assets" (eg. HDAs (Houdini Digital Assets) in Houdini) I think forms a good basis for it as well. See exchange for example.

Production & filmmaking programs

I thought I should have a look at production-related programs and searched a bit.

This list (select
"production mgt." category and then "go") seems quite exhaustive

Movie Magic Scheduling/Budgeting Seems somewhat outdated but widely used
EP Scheduling/Budgeting
Cinergy Suite
Cinergy Scheduling 5
Cinergy Budgeting 5
Cinergy Shot Logging
Reel Production Calendar 3
Filmspeed
Easy Budget Feature
StoryBoard Artist 4
ProductionPro Budget 1.4
CineMatrix Indy 4
CostumePro 5

Additional research findings:
http://www.company-move.com/comparison/3.html
http://www.junglesoftware.com/home/

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mad and Bad

I have recently created my own production company, together with my friends Abraham and Jorge.
We have several projects going on, one of them is "Mad and Bad", a funny 3D animation series with short episodes.
We have made some of the episodes freely available on the web, so if you want to find out who the hell are Mad and Bad, please visit the web (http://www.mad and bad.com) and spread the word!



Thanks
Gerardo

VFX comprehensive free managing database

Achim dropped me a quick note about VFX Showrunner as commented on the sidefx mailing list.
(from their web) "Visual Effects (...) issues addressed by Showrunner: Budgeting, Communicating shot specs to your crew, Keeping track of the progress of the project, Managing Editorial, Shipping & Receiving, and Scheduling (...) one database that can seamlessly integrate virtually ALL of the various kinds of information your project requires to keep running smoothly."

Comments from Ruben

Ruben is the FX Department Director at Dygra, a CGI film production company in A Coruña (Spain).
He has been doing some research on animation pipeline, to optimize it for their new feature film productions, and he wanted to share some of his findings:

ZOHO is an online application for management and control of projects, tasks, milestones, calendars... you can get a free unlimited account for open source projects.

Collada is (from their web) "an open Digital Asset Exchange Schema for the interactive 3D industry (...) is not designed to be a temporary data transport mechanism, but rather to be the schema for the source data for your digital assets. It is not designed as a delivery mechanism, but to be a content holder for any target platform."

Mayasvn is (from their web) a "Maya Subversion integration system to make it easier for your team to use subversion to manage Maya assets". It is compiled for Windows 6.5 & 7.0.

lpics is a paper about an impressive (from their web ) "interactive cinematic lighting system (...) provides lighting artists with high-quality previews at interactive framerates with only small approximations compared to the final rendered images."

A very interesting text about pipeline in production.

Superconductor (from their web) "is an open-source, multi-platform render farm controller for coordinated rendering control of multiple graphics/computation/rendering projects using multiple client apps..."
Unfortunately the project seems somewhat stalled since 2004, so "Currently SuperConductor works with World Construction Set from 3D Nature. Work is in progress to add support for Newtek's Lightwave 3D."