Visual Effects: Pipeline, Render & Research

for Paramount & Universal

Provided technical and software resources to drive D. Aronofsky's "Noah" (2014) and W. Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" (2012) through a boutique Brooklyn-based studio.

Noah: Deep Image Conversion Pipeline

At the time, Houdini’s deep-image format (RAT) was not supported by The Foundry's Nuke. To work around this, a C++ plugin was engineered which cross-compiled the Nuke NDK and Houdini HDK to provide RAT-image reading natively within Nuke.

With each RAT-image potentially exceeding 2GB/frame, we constructed an isolated farm of virtual machines to tackle the conversion of 100K+ frames into compressed OpenEXR2 deep files. This farm was accessed and directed by a Tornado/Celery/RabbitMQ job-queue.

Noah: Rendering

Feathering 20K+ birds required an involved network of dependent render passes, generally broken into geometry caching, IFD generation and Mantra rendering.

To streamline this, an event-based pipeline was constructed which allowed an artist to create sophisticated render networks that were translated and scheduled into a series of stacked, frame-dependent jobs called "chains". These chains could be accessed and managed using a Python API.

We decreased IFD generation time by 50-75% by rendering to node-local disks and tuning (increasing) network packet weights to our primary storage appliance. This shaved weeks off our estimated render time.

Noah: Off-site Rendering at Sony Imageworks

LookFX generated over 100K frames for 300+ shots with render times ranging from 6-24/hrs per frame. To tackle this, we worked with the teams at Sony Imageworks and Cinesite to utilize their larger infrastructures.

Each multi-GB IFD had to be transposed to render correctly inside a remote network and file-system. Transposing was a multi-threaded task distributed across our internal farm. All paths were identified, translated and added to an asset dependency list. Each IFD could reference an incredible 100K+ assets.

These dependency lists were then used to collect and write all assets onto a 3TB hard disk. Each day, these disks were generated and sent overnight for rendering on the West coast. Databases were created to track data and bypass duplicate assets.


Brookly, NY

Studio: LookFX

Client: Paramount & Universal

Role: Pipeline Technical Director; Software Research & Engineering.