This was the 9th iteration of the CVMP conference, and it certainly lived up to its billing. The conference struck just the right balance between academic research and commercial production, providing a hugely rich and diverse array of ideas, challenges, successes and future endeavours.
Of particular note was the opening talk by Fredo Durand of MIT, in which he presented a dizzying range of computational techniques revealing the unseen world of microscopic motion and colour variations. Fredo’s references to work being done with photographing around corners, or revealing images within shadows and reflections were unnervingly magical and seemingly impossible. Equally the presentation by Olga Sokine of ETH Zurich on ‘Really real-time 3D shape modelling and animation’ was a masterful talk on future ways of creating 3D shapes for animation.
From a commercial perspective there was a staggering gamut of projects and expertise presented. Mike Romey from ZOIC gave a brilliant insight into how it is possible to do 300 VFX shots in two and a half weeks. The answer: you need a HIERO (quite a few of them, in fact) and you have to get your production staff happy with working in NLE space, as well as manage all data from the shots and make it flow seamlessly through the pipeline. An interesting development of ZOIC’z pipeline is the ability to call up the data on any given shot which not only shows who’s worked on it and how long it has taken to create, but how much it’s cost the company (man hours and use of bespoke tools), I’m sure it is intrinsic to their success, both technically and commercially.
Mike also threw down something of a challenge to the research community – of tackling the ever-growing issues of data management. To some degree this was answered by Adrian Hilton with SyMMM (Synchronising multimodal metadata) on the second day. The challenge is still to create a single package of data that could roll everything into one, in the way .exr has, but would include all the other streams captured on set. Currently only companies such as Fluent Image are offering production-ready solutions, and it may be some time before we see such services moving down the food chain.
Part Two to follow...
Hugo is the Senior Lecturer in Motion Graphics and Animation Design from the Department of Media & Communication at The University of Northumbria.