Just got back from CVMP – great conference – here are some thoughts
CVMP 2012 – Reflections (and refractions) on this years event.
Hugo Glover – Senior Lecture in Motion Graphics & Animation Design
Dept of Media & Communication.
University of Northumbria
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 endeavour.
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’s 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.
Other highlights included the work presented by John Zubrzycki (BBC R&D) on the colossal technical challenges of the Ultra HD (8k) broadcast for the Olympics – with data rates of 24 GB per second, as well as some discussion on the “sweet spot” of 300 FPS for the next generation of HFR production.
Alex Seaman of DNeg, gave a wonderful presentation showcasing the staggering amount of R&D that can sometimes be necessary to respond to the creative briefs that film production can breed.
Hannes Appel’s self-deprecating and insightful glimpse at the potential and somewhat perplexing (to a non-gamer) world of games was breathtaking – from a technical perspective. The Crytek Cinebox opens some incredible opportunities, in a similar vein to Valve’ s ‘Source Filmmaker’ package. There is quite obviously a vast potential in leveraging the tech of the games industry for a more erudite visual vernacular, we will wait to see if gaming can ever grow up and fulfil its cultural potential . . .
Kinect popped up in many presentations, so it was impressive to see just how far Microsoft have been pushing their own envelope, with Shahram Izadi’s work demonstrating that with higher resolution comes more detailed results. Working with stereo 8M cameras with duel RGB and IR sensors created some impressive results.
Mark Wilson (Framestore) demonstrated just how integral a ‘Post house’ now is in capturing, managing and utilizing the vast quantity of data generated throughout production and combining it all to make truly stunning shots. His talk illustrated the reality that ‘principal photography’ is now only one of a multitude of critical ingredients that are recorded each with a minute attention to detail. They are then seamlessly blended together to create the delights of cutting edge VFX’s work.
Overall the quality of the work was only matched by the quantity. I was left with a dizzying sense of the potential gains that are just over the horizon, visible only to those who know where to look, and those who attended CVMP 2012. See you next year.