View Full Version : VFXTalk to Interview Mental Ray on Posideon!
May 18th, 2006, 04:56 PM
http://www.mentalimages.comA 200ft wave sets out on a mission to send the passengers of the big ship Poseidon to a watery grave. With few survivors, Poseidon is a tale of struggle, determination and of course danger.
With this kind of story, as I am sure you can imagine, comes a great deal of work. In fact this film boasts the largest virtual man made object ever in a movie…..No actor set foot on this 300m long and 70 metre wide vessel. Quite simply this film would not have been possible without Mental Ray.
Ray traced global illumination was the order of the day, a brand new rendering technique developed within Mental Ray to create the photorealism required to breathe life in to this film. It was also used to create 6500 virtual set pieces made up of over 180,000 individual pieces of Geometry – from clocks to newspapers and wine glasses.
Sound Difficult? Well thanks to the CEO of Mental Images, Rolf Herken, you guys are going to get to find out. Rolf, being the lovely chap that he is, has kindly agreed to answer questions from all of YOU rowdy bunch?
The interview is going to be on the evening of Monday 22nd May and so you need to get your questions in STRAIGHT AWAY.
This is your opportunity to get information from the people who know….so what are you waiting for…..post, post post.
May 18th, 2006, 04:59 PM
Here's a few clippings from the recent press release they put out to help guide your questions!
Industrial, Light & Magic (ILM), a Lucasfilm Ltd. company, credits mental ray®, the Academy Award® winning high-end rendering software from mental images®, for significant advances in virtual cinematography that ILM achieved in creating the visual effects for Poseidon, the blockbuster film released last week.
Known for its leading edge programmability and artistic control, mental ray was used to create the Poseidon, a vessel that would be 300 meters long and 70 meters wide in real life. Although no actor ever stepped foot on a physical ship, the advanced rendering capabilities of mental ray allowed ILM’s visual effects artists and engineers to generate the needed details and sophisticated lighting for the ship to fit seamlessly into the scenes.
“The only way to achieve the level of photorealism that we needed to create Poseidon was through ray traced global illumination. We have ray traced using mental ray at ILM for many years and the level of complexity on Poseidon made it the obvious choice,” said Kim Libreri, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor on Poseidon. “We knew from day one that this would be the most difficult project to render and that mental ray was the best solution. Not only does the software create fantastic images but the level of support that we got from the mental images staff in Berlin and Los Angeles was amazing. Whenever we needed something they were there to deliver.”
http://poseidonmovie.warnerbros.commental images’ California based support team worked closely with ILM artists and engineers on-site for weeks at a time to create new rendering techniques never before done. The core obstacle of the project was the enormous complexity. In order to create the realism, a modular system was built with mental ray that enabled the artists to repeatedly use virtual props. This allowed the artists to keep the scenes manageable while focusing on the various elements that came with the 6,500 virtual set pieces made up of over 180,000 individual pieces of geometry – from wine glasses, to clocks and newspapers and even the life preservers.
A particular challenge was represented by the need to create an authentic opening scene. The shot had to be continuous which required close-up and far-away views of the ship. The scene needed to start underwater, breaking through the surface to show specific aerial views with a dramatic and apparent understanding of how enormous the scale of the ship in this story is.
To achieve realistic and life-like effects ILM used mental ray to have complete control over lighting and design of the entire vessel. ILM worked closely with the mental images’ engineers to develop proprietary algorithms specifically designed for the project. One of the most difficult, but important challenges for the team was to create the natural light effects that would integrate the ship with the live actors. By utilizing the global illumination algorithms in mental ray the artists were able to create the lighting that makes the ship appear real to the human eye.
“The entertainment industry is moving from emulation to genuine simulation, and realistic lighting and shading effects are the ultimate benchmark for the degree of realism that can be achieved by such simulation,” says Rolf Herken, CEO and CTO of mental images. “The decision of ILM to go with a full computer graphics approach for Poseidon was a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the unique capabilities and outstanding performance of mental ray. By working closely with ILM mental images continues to sharpen the cutting edge of such pursuits and keeps pushing the limits of the artistic use of simulation technology even further.”
About mental images
mental images®, founded in 1986, is the recognized international leader in providing rendering software to the entertainment, computer-aided design, scientific visualization, architecture, and other industries that require sophisticated images. The company's main product is the Academy Award® winning photorealistic rendering software mental ray® which runs on a wide variety of platforms ranging from networks of workstations to parallel supercomputers, producing images of unsurpassed realism.
May 18th, 2006, 05:40 PM
This type of work only permit the use custom and optimized shaders , or the "default" shaders still usable?
What type of optimizacions is made to render these amazing complex scenes in high resolution?
What the importance of others techniques of GI like Ambient Oclusion, IBL and "Fakeosity"? This techniques replaced completely the traditional GI in any part of this work?
The developments reached in this film they will be used soon in the next version of MR ?
some special development was necessary to optimize the render of fluids and particles?
This film required a special development in the output section of MR, like support of more formats or special type of output pass?
May 19th, 2006, 04:03 AM
okay so cool....
Was there anything that you wanted to do but couldnt,I mean its a big job and all, was there anything that wasn't possible?
oh and what other software did you use to make this work?
What scenes was mental ray used on?
What was the hardest part?
Okay share, I know, you other peeps can get some down now.
But, I'll be back, this is kick ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
May 19th, 2006, 04:17 AM
First of all, I haven't seen the film yet, I have only seen the trailers, but that show how immense this must have been for you all.
How long does a project like this take to render in total?
Where there any scenes that just would not have been possible without Mental Ray?
What research, if any did you have to do to make everything looked credible?
What part of the film would you say Mental Ray was most effective for?
May 19th, 2006, 09:58 AM
nice writing cg news, i would like to kno what the new rendering techniques actually involve
May 19th, 2006, 12:40 PM
these questions are quite general, I hope thats ok.
With applications such as Gelato allowing some renderers to take advantage of GPU rendering, is this something that Mental Images is looking into for the future?
Mental images has a very strong working relationship with ILM, such as ILM having access to Mental Rays source code i heard some time ago. Does any of the development ILM make with Mental Ray internally make it into the general release that the pubic get access too?
Renderman has quite a strong share of the feature film market. Now that machines are getting faster and 64 bit machines are almost standard, and GI is becoming more atainablle, do you see Mental Ray taking over Renderman seats in the future?
Rendering algorithms such as radisoty and sub surface scattering are now something avilable built into Mental Ray and avilable to everyone. What new rendering methods and/or challenges do you see Mental Images working on in the future for Mental Ray?
Many renderers specialise in certain tasks, such as the new Maxwell render focusing on the visualisation side of the industry, and Renderman on features. Mental Ray is in quite a unique position of dipping its toes into all of these markets, is this something you see Mental Ray continuing, or will it eventually focus on one area?
May 21st, 2006, 04:51 AM
just wondering how easy it is to integrate the mental ray engine into other applications?
May 21st, 2006, 07:19 AM
Do you guys do many of these? I never seen stuff like this before!
I think you all got it pretty much covered though.
How was the texture of the ship created?
How many processors were needed to get the job done?
Any regrets about your work or anything else you would have done differently if you could do it again?
May 23rd, 2006, 08:43 AM
Just wanted to say thanks for all the great questions! We will be sending these over to Rolf and should have the final article up online asap!
June 9th, 2006, 03:19 AM
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for getting involved and putting to geather a great interview!
The interview is finished and was posted in the features forum, please check it out and let us know if we got everything answered.