“The entire economics of media and entertainment are changing. Corporations are jockeying to develop content that will bring eyeballs to their platforms, and they’re also mindful of Wall Street asking them to make money. This puts huge pressure on creative houses, VFX professionals, and designers, writers, actors, and producers as well. The entire M&E workforce is undergoing a complete change in their business model. Boards like the NVIDIA RTX™ A5000 can ease the transition. It can do what in the past would’ve been a totally unrealistic ask in less time, for less money, and still deliver the quality of results that the studio or viewer is expecting them to deliver.”
So says Carl Flygare, NVIDIA Professional Visualization Marketing Manager at PNY, a global technology leader dedicated to business-grade and consumer electronics manufacturing, and one of NVIDIA’s leading professional visualization partners. From previs and postvis to virtual production and Omniverse USD-based 3D and AI-enhanced content creation collaboration across teams and companies, NVIDIA-based digital solutions are playing a central role in 3DCG animation, along with VFX-driven entertainment production. Clearly there are uncertainties about the ramifications of disruptive new paradigms – concerns reflected in the current writers’ and actors’ strikes – but the promise of these new technologies is readily apparent, not only in terms of greater speed and efficiency, but in the enhanced collaboration and greater artistic freedom that it offers.
In conjunction with a special promotion offering limited-time pricing for the NVIDIAs RTX A5000 dual-slot card, we spoke with Flygare about the paradigm-shifting disruptions going on in the M&E space, and the ways in which PNY and NVIDIA are stepping up to support studios and content creators in a time of rapid change.
AWN: There are so many areas in which the speed and versatility provided by NVIDIA’s innovative technology can play a role in a production pipeline that it’s hard to know where to start. Why don’t you lead the way?
Carl Flygare: Well, let’s start with previsualization, which in the past meant storyboarding, since one of the key reasons people do previs is to find the most compelling way to tell their story. Now you can start with a program like SketchUp, and very rapidly draw out a variety of different scenarios and present it to directors, producers, other essential stakeholders and let them see previsualization content earlier on in a more developed form. With RTX A5000, that even extends to rendering out previz content. Of course, we’re not talking release-grade resolution, but they will see insightful creative and conceptual nuance in 3D as opposed to simple 2D drawings.
When it comes to character animation, a board like the RTX A5000 is an ideal adjunct to programs like 3ds Max or Maya. Character designers can utilize extremely complex geometries and incorporate very complex textures; the kind of stuff that looks real world as opposed to a sophisticated animation. In the past, a lot of what was done in movies was based on an animator’s idea of what something should look and behave like. For example, how would a round projectile behave if it were expelled from a device at a given velocity under a gravity, say, twice that of Earth? Now, with the RTX A5000, you can animate by using a real-time simulation of the underlying physics. It’s no longer up to the animator to guess what should happen. You can bake a physically accurate simulation into the result, and that’s what you will see, and your audiences will believe.
With GPU acceleration, you’re doing things at speeds no CPU on the planet can possibly approach, while utilizing technologies like ray tracing and global illumination. With the RTX A5000, you not only have ray tracing, but, with some of the NVIDIA SDKs, SPIs, APIs, and development frameworks, you can start using path traced rendering. If you’re doing a scene indoors (in particular) this gives you much more accurate lighting than you could achieve by any other means. RTX A5000 can deliver this and more, where prior generations of cards didn’t have the speed required to make it a fluid, interactive, iterative creative process.
AWN: And that applies to all of the pre-production ideation, because they can create a much broader range of deeper imagery much more quickly than they could before.
CF: Yes. You’re giving the creatives more options to explore and choose from. In costuming, for example, the subtleties and intricacies of different kinds of fabrics, their textures, the way they would react if a character moves a certain way, how they interact with light, see what happens if there’s jewelry involved or some other kind of ornamentation. Or maybe you’re doing a medieval scene and there’s armor involved, so you’ve got metallic surfaces. All of that can be handled with complete physical accuracy, no guesswork required.
AWN: Last December, PNY participated in a webinar with Nashville-based studio Vū, which does virtual production with LED panels on increasingly sophisticated LED stages. Can you talk a little about that, and how the RTX A5000 fits into the picture?
CF: For that kind of virtual production, you must light up a large high-resolution volume – a Vault – typically using LED panels. And to do that, you need a card capable of high-performance, photorealistic, real-time rendering, and you also need the ability to synchronize the output of multiple cards. One of the nice things about the RTX A5000 is that it supports a companion product, the NVIDIA Quadro Sync II, which acts as a taskmaster ensuring every card runs off a single master clock. All of those panels stay in exact synch with each other, so that everything lines up perfectly.
A great benefit of virtual production is it gives you huge economies of scale – you’re not traveling, you’re not hauling freight around, you’re not doing everything else you need to do to go on location. You also don’t need to worry about a cell phone tower showing up in the background of a scene set in Victorian London. In a virtual set environment, you have complete control. I’m old enough to remember the original Outer Limits. You control the horizontal, you control the vertical. You get exactly what you want once it’s baked into your model.
Another major advantage is that actors aren’t just interacting with a greenscreen anymore. If you’re in an LED Vault volume, you have a compelling background, you can put practical effects objects in the foreground, and suddenly, the actor has something to interact with. Subtle things that you used to have to do in VFX can now be captured live during the shoot. The classic example is in a closeup of a face, you’re going to see some reflection of what they’re looking at in their eyes. If you did it the old-fashioned way, you’d have to add that as VFX after the fact. On a virtual set, their eyes are capturing the information that they’re seeing from the LED Vault, so you’ve already done it.
From a cinematographic point of view, it gives you complete control over the lighting conditions. You don’t have to sit around and wait for golden hour, or whatever weather or climatic conditions you need. Now it’s just a matter of telling a game engine like Unreal, “I need a certain amount of cloudiness. I need some fog. It’s like 8:30 AM in the morning, East Coast Standard Time, and makes it look like it’s early spring.”
AWN: When you talk to studios, CTOs, VFX sups, senior artists, folks making decisions for their teams as far as pipeline tech, what are some of the areas you focus on regarding these cards and their functionality?
CF: I discuss how different creatives all have preferred applications they like to work with to realize their vision. You’ve got ISV applications from Autodesk, Adobe, or Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve in the video editing space for example. A major problem is integrating these creative professionals into a production pipeline, while allowing them to use the tools they know and love. NVIDIA Omniverse™ Enterprise provides the perfect solution by allowing collaboration between artists using different applications. For example, someone who loves working with 3ds Max can collaborate with another artist, perhaps in another city or on another continent, who works with a completely different application They can effortlessly share models, geometry, textures, surface effects, lighting parameters, and have the scene WYSIWYG render for both of them. And they can work in real-time, provided they’ve got sufficient network bandwidth.
AWN: Before we wrap up, could you summarize, for those who are thinking about moving into virtual production, what makes the NVIDIA RTX A5000 a potential first choice?
CF: Sure. For starters, it’s been thoroughly vetted in the real world, it’s stable, speedy, reliable, available, and based on the high-performance and efficient NVIDIA Ampere architecture, which means it’s very powerful and flexible. It has 24 gigabytes of GDDR6 ECC GPU memory, and it has all the ray tracing, AI, and compute capabilities of more expensive cards. You can also connect two RTX A5000 boards in a workstation with NVIDIA NVLink, which allows the cards to communicate at much higher speeds than PCIe Gen 4 offers, which reduces latency, meaning you can keep your GPUs fully engaged. They’ll always have access to the data they need, so you can complete a task more quickly.
When you combine two RTX A5000 graphics cards, you’ve got 48 gigabytes of memory, which is treated as a single framebuffer or GPU memory space, you also get near linear performance scaling if the application(s) supports NVLink. You get close to 2x the performance for rendering, compute, simulation, generative AI, whatever you’re doing with the card for M&E, and you can work with models that are twice as complex. You can bring in more textures. You can be doing rendering and AI and simulation simultaneously in GPU memory, without the slowdowns inherent if system memory also has to be utilized.
Basically, you can work at the speed of thought, and that’s where people are most creative, imaginative, and come up with genre redefining ideas. Did I mention that for a limited time the RTX A5000 is available at a special promotional price. Don’t miss this opportunity, you can learn more at www.pny.com/pro or by contacting [email protected].
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.
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