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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Annenberg 105
“Real-time” Supercomputing: Disruptive Transformation of Design and Decision-Based Pocesses.
Lincoln Wallen, Visiting Associate in CMS at Caltech and former CTO of DreamWorks Animation,

 It is well known that the computer is replacing the camera as the film-maker's tool of choice because generating images by simulating reality using mathematical software has proved to be a more flexible and expressive medium than configuring the real world to capture images. Yet designing digital media at scale is a task every bit as challenging as the more traditional design and manufacturing of physical products.  A single movie image can take up to forty CPU hours to compute making the design process slow and cumbersome.  An entire movie consists of approximately half a billion individual (digital) pieces, consumes over one hundred million CPU hours in its manufacture, representing the labor of hundreds of designers over multiple years.

By (1) developing simulation techniques that emphasize scalability over performance, (2) designing data structures that support fast iteration, and (3) adopting web-scale data management architecture, the creative experience and the economics of image production can be transformed out of all recognition.

I will illustrate this paradigm shift to "real-time" design using examples from visual effects, the design of animation tools, and the process of lighting final images.  I will also show how this architecture has been used to begin the digital transformation of the Consumer Products market, by replacing physical samples of apparel and footwear with digital samples, drastically shortening the time to market.

This approach represents a fusion of the videogame design paradigm with scientific supercomputing and may have relevance for other areas where large-scale compute and visualization are coupled to decision-making.  I will make some final remarks on the prospects for extending the approach to the simulation of the most difficult aspect of the real world to design and animate – the human characters.

For more information, please contact Diane Goodfellow by email at [email protected].