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Fox Renderfarm was honored to interview some big cheeses in SIGGRAPH Asia 2019. The next one we want to introduce is Jinny Choo, the Computer Animation Festival (CAF) Co-Chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 and the Conference Chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2020. Jinny has contributed to SIGGRAPH Asia for many years. What’s more, she has successfully organized or chaired several international events including Indie-AniFest (the Korean Independent Animation Film Festival), SICAF (Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival), BIAF (Bucheon International Animation Festival), the GISF SF festival and many others since 2000. After making her first short animated film in 1999, Jinny started her career as a freelance artist in animation and media arts. She majored in Animation and Illustration and received an MFA in Art and Film and a Ph.D. in Animation Studies and Content Producing from Chung-Ang University in Korea, and Jinny is currently serving as a guest professor and researcher in Korea National University of Arts (K'ARTS). As a researcher, Jinny’s major area is the theories & artistic practices of animation and interactive media through a combination of traditional media and digital tools, and she has carried out various research and projects in integrated art and technology and animation therapy as co-researcher or lead researcher at K'ARTS since 2009. Here’s the interview between Jinny Choo and Fox Renderfarm. Fox Renderfarm: How did you start your CG journey? Jinny Choo: Well, it’s a long story. But I really love the whole (things) in the CG and animations, or in movies. So, I think I naturally fell in love with the CG. Fox Renderfarm: Any people inspire you most in the industry? Why? Jinny Choo: There are so many, actually, filmmakers inspired me, mostly, like independent filmmakers, because with the awesome ideas and unique perspectives. So I really love their masterpieces, especially Michael Dudok de Wit from Holland, who created The Red Turtle, the animated feature. He is an amazing filmmaker, who really shows that poetic animation itself. I really like his works. There are so many other filmmakers I can’t even count. Fox Renderfarm: Any research or projects you want to share with us? Jinny Choo: I think that animation as an art, and as a medium, it has a great and huge potential to collaborate with other media, or other art forms. So I actually urge my students to (think how to) use animation as a medium for their expanding projects, for instance, like a medium (in) art, and for game and stage, for their animation, I once had a project with the industry, which was using animation characters. So we created animation characters with our students. It’s like the animation-related games. Around that time, we learned a lot, because animation can do more key roles in the future. Fox Renderfarm: You have organized many festivals and conferences, any unforgettable memories you want to share with us? Jinny Choo: I actually organized animation festival (since) around 2000, it’s been like 20 years. Some of them are international, some of them are really small ones. Every moment with the festivals, they are always memorable, you know experience, especially the festival is that a place not only watching the newest animations, but you can actually meet creators, directors, and to share ideas, perspectives, which is really really great. So if you don’t go to the festival, you never know what’s behind the animation. That’s really really interesting for me, and a great journey for me to organize animation festivals, and of course, Computer Animation Festival is one of them. That’s why I’m doing for many many years. Fox Renderfarm: Would you give some highlights of this year’s CAF? Any submissions give you surprise? Why? Jinny Choo: Well, amazingly this year, the number of the submissions actually raised a lot. We got over 520 submissions from all around the world, which is great. Every year, the quality of the animation itself, the visual and techniques are really really improving. So that’s why (we have) high expectations every year. And this year, some of the students’ works are amazing. I mean, you can’t really tell like between the student’s work and the expert’s, I mean, the professional work. It’s like a really blurred line. Most of the students’ works are really great. So you got to see our Electric Theater Show, as well as Animation Theater, (a) whole new experience for you. Fox Renderfarm: You are a researcher and educator and even a festival/conference organizer for many years, any challenges you’ve met to balance these responsibilities? How to solve it? Jinny Choo: It’s the time. I have to divide my time exactly for education, teaching, research and organize(ing) the festival. Yeah, sometimes it’s like struggling to adjust, I mean, get into the right process. Well, it’s been a really long time for me to do these stuff, multiple tasks. So I’m getting used to it. Because teaching is one of my favorites, and research of course, and organizing festivals is also my favorite, I can’t really choose. That’s why I just face strict about the schedule, and try to adjust everything in time and right on the track. Hopefully, I’m doing well. Fox Renderfarm: Would you give us a brief introduction of the CG industry in Korea? Jinny Choo: The CG industry, especially the movie industry is huge. We have tremendous CG companies in Korea. They are doing really really well. And mega-hit movies, actually they are collaborate(ing) with really famous CG companies in Korea, like 10 CG companies actually are outstanding, so they are doing most of the Korean movies, I mean, the CG stuff. For instance, the level of the Korean CG industry, it’s almost the same as the States or other countries. And more talented experts and professionals are working for the huge projects, in collaboration with other countries, of course, the big studios in the States as well as in China. There is so much collaboration stuff going on with China these days. So, I think the CG industry in Korea is pretty bright and is still growing. Fox Renderfarm: SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 will be in Korea! How is everything going? Any highlights you want to share with the audience? Jinny Choo: I’m really thrilled that SIGGRAPH Asia actually is coming back to South Korea after 10 years. We hosted the 3rd edition of SIGGRAPH Asia in Seoul, but this time the city of Daegu is hosting the 13th edition of the conference. So as you know that SIGGRAPH Asia is the key place/part in suggesting the newest technologies in CG, animations or visual effects. So we are going to maintain the SIGGRAPH Asia spirit and programs, but there will be some prospective sessions with the novel technologies, and there will be games, so (there) will be another inspiring conference and visual feast for everyone. We are very looking forward to it. Fox Renderfarm: Have you heard of Fox Renderfarm? Jinny Choo: Yes, I do! I just heard from one of my international students from China, he introduced one of the mega-hit animation features in China, which is Ne Zha. And I heard that the (Fox Renderfarm) is used for this movie, the visual is really really amazing. Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts? Jinny Choo: The CG, for the animations and the movies, the story comes first, but without technologies, I mean visual effects or other visual technologies, it would be difficult to show and to share. I’m always thinking that the animation or the movie is about art and technology bring together. So I think SIGGRAPH Asia is the one you can actually share both and experience both ways. For next year, SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 in Daegu. We are looking forward to you being part of the SIGGRAPH Asia 2020. Please come join us!
During the visual and information feast - SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, Fox Renderfarm is delighted to have the chance to talk with Mr. Ernest Petti, Studio CG Supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios, who has also devoted to the production in Frozen 2, the record-breaking animation feature in the box office worldwide. Ernest Petti has been working with Walt Disney Animation Studios for over 19 years, now is the Studio CG Supervisor. In this role he acts as a bridge between Production and Technology for long-term strategic initiatives, orchestrating the initiatives and projects of the Workflow team and uniting them to fit within the studio’s vision for workflow. Prior to this, he served as Technical Supervisor on Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) and the 2016 Oscar-winning feature Zootopia. Ernest joined Disney in 2000 as a software engineer in the Technology group and has served as a supervisor in Lighting, Look Development, and Tactics. Credits include 2014's Oscar-winning feature Big Hero 6, as well as Wreck-it Ralph (2012), Tangled (2010), and Bolt (2008). In the Featured Sessions of SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, Ernest delivered a presentation named - "Frozen 2" and the Past, Present, and Future of Tech at Disney Animation, and he was also being part of the discussion and communication: Proactive Large-Scale Pipeline Efficiency Management, with a panel from large-scale Animation and VFX studios to share insights to their challenges on how to balance between creating amazing visuals as well as given a tight production time frame. During our interview, Ernest expressed his excitement about this year’s SIGGRAPH - how interested he was to connect with other people, companies and technologies. Besides, among all the cutting-edged technologies shown, machine learning sparks his curiosity about its application during his work. Of course, the development of rendering technology arouses his wonder about how to make a more interactive and direct manipulation with rendering, especially with GPU that comes along. More insights into the production of Frozen 2 is definitely what Fox Renderfarm would not miss, and are also what we can’t wait to share with you. Let’s check out the interview video and article, and see how Walt Disney Animation Studios combines timeless storytelling with innovative technology. (F=Fox Renderfarm, EP=Ernest Petti) F: Could you tell us your main responsibilities in Frozen 2? How did you cooperate with the VFX departments along the production? EP: My role is Studio CG Supervisor, I’m in the studio level position that kind of overlooks the long-term technical development and artistic workflows over the course of shows. I work closely with the technology group and with the productions, and try to find the bridge between those over time. I was the Technical Supervisor on Ralph Breaks the Internet. On that show, we did stuff like the first steps into nested proceduralism for some of the buildings on the internet that paved the way then, and was built on top of further for Frozen 2. So there is that sort of continuity of shows that we passed on. And then in my current role, looking at workflow is a big thing that we are focused on and is in the concurrent collaboration and making that as smooth as possible between different departments. So talking to the groups in Frozen 2, like all the Visual Effects Supervisor like Steve Goldberg and the Technical Supervisor like Mark Hammel, and working with them and understanding what they're doing on their show, and making sure it's in line with the shows before, and moving into the future so that we can really build to what will come next. Basically, when the new set of leadership starts on a show, we try to connect with them, then start understanding what our show’s specific needs, and what are things that we want to advance in the studio that makes sense to, also try to dock on at that show so that we can have some continuity. F: How did you cooperate with the Production Director and the Production Designer to actualize the creativity through the technologies? EP: When that story starts forming and the show leadership really is working with the Production Designer and with the Director to understand the story and what the look of the film is, achieving that comes first. So we really want to partner closely on what technology might be needed to make that happen. It’s very important that we’re able to achieve that. Then in partnership with that, it’s can that build off things that were already in the plan; should that accelerate things that we may have been thinking about but weren't going to necessarily line up with that timing; and are there things that aren't necessarily tied to show needs, but we do want to advance and this would be the right timing to do that, for instance, the work in USD - of course, we're hearing about lots of studios, we’re trying to make significant advances in USD in our pipeline for Raya and the Last Dragon, which is our movie coming out next November - so that's not a show need, it's nothing out of the artistic vision of that movie that said we need USD, but it'll help advance a lot of future tools and workflows. And we need to find the right place to start feathering that in. F: Which part do you like the most in the production of Frozen 2? Why? EP: It’s a movie that has a lot of scope and scale to it. I like that it kind of takes you in more surprising directions. It takes you outside of what you've seen before in the first one, so it's not staying in the same zone, it's leaving Arendelle. It’s going out into the wild into a different environment and world, and it has sort of unique Spirits and settings that we haven't necessarily done before. F: How did you achieve the scale of autumnal trees and foliage through technical changes? EP: In a lot of our films, we have (been) trying to strike the balance between artistic stylization and procedural simulation to make sure we have the complexity and richness that we want, and yet still the stylization that we need. And we've worked overtime to build the tools to give that stylization for, say a single tree. And then you place them well to get a cluster of trees that looks nice. But now, when you have a whole forest that has a certain level of stylization to it, and it has a lot of depth to the ground cover, the pebbles and everything else around it as well. We needed to prove our toolset so that we would not only have that sort of balance of stylization and complexity on the single tree level, and then make a whole forest of them, we can stylize the appearance of the forest as well. So we had nested proceduralism which would allow us to build up, like here's a pebble, here's a cluster of pebbles, now here's a ground cover that includes some leaves and a cluster of pebbles; and then it includes a tree, and then there's a grove of trees, and then the grove of trees expands to the forest. And you can sort of stylize but also build up and populate at each of those levels. And then we created a tool called Droplet that was essentially a procedural painting tool that you could then paint down the trees in a more painterly fashion, so that you could have more direct control over the style and flow of the forest as a whole, and all the trees throughout it. So it did definitely lead to expanding on our Bonsai tree tools and our Aurora instancer, as well as developing the new tool like Droplet. Bonsai Instancing Zootopia Test F: What’s the challenging part of the production? How to solve it? EP: I think there's a couple of areas environment side we had a very lush rich forest environment that includes very colorful diverse autumn forest, but also because its fall leaves are on the ground that also had to be very rich. On top of that when you start adding in the elemental spirits and you have something like Gale, the Wind Spirit, you're tying that environment as a character and having to make sure there's a lot of coordination between how the environment is built; and how the character of the wind plays through that, and then interacts with the rest of the environment, and with any characters and the scenes with Anna or Elsa or any of the other characters. So this film presented a lot of challenges with collaboration. A lot of things that like the Water Spirit and like the Gale that didn't fit neatly into one department, one group of people or a linear pipeline. So the challenge is finding the ways to iterate smoothly when you're having to have a very tight connection between people across departments. I think we always start with the sort of research into trying to ground the challenge that we're looking at, and what the closest connection is to the physical world. When you have the Water Spirit taking the form of a horse, you study water, you study horses, and then you bring all the people across departments together, and everywhere from art and trying to understand the stylization, and how far you want to go in wateriness versus sort of solidity. The effects departments, the spray and the foam of the mane and the tail to the animators, so you really have everyone working together to look at the challenges together, form more of a team around the problems you're trying to solve. F: What did you do to make these characters realistic? EP: There is the realism you want, the realism of a horse movement or the realism of water movement. And where do those conflict, and how do you find the right balance between those, and the choices you may make for a beautiful horse animation may not work when the mane and tail are refractive water that you can see through. Say, the mane goes in front of the face, it's not actually completely covering the face, you're kind of seeing through that. So that's again where what decision might be made in animation may need to be iterated on when you see a render. Because of the effects of the water on the character, so it's definitely a challenge to find just the right balance for that character. F: In this process, what kinds of tests did you do to give the designers the idea? EP: I think with all of the tests and with the Nokk as well, we did start with some hand-drawn tests. Even seeing once again the example of legs, and how much the leg should sort of splash away into water, and how much they could stay fairly solidified, was something that we tested with some hand-drawn tests first. And then you take that into animation, and then you would try to run little sort of various types of character tests, like a still test of the Nokk with just some head animation. That informed that we needed to take the water distortion and reduce it on the face. Because there were subtle movements, that distortion was making the rig harder and keep that just on the body. Then you would do a test on how much spray and spindrift should be in there. And you do a running test. So it's kind of you really work closely as a group and sort of run these tests to explore different aspects and keep the Directors in the loop for that time. F: Could you explain more about the unified rendering? EP: I think when we talk about unified rendering and looking forward, at a lot of places at Disney animation, we have a glViewport that we use for when we're viewing things in our various departments and getting previews as we're working, and then you do a final frame render that on a and takes a significantly longer chunk of time. Sometimes those technical requirements require different paths and different pipelines. We would love to find paths where almost what you see is what you get, and so there's more of a continuum from the preview that you see, to the final frame. It's almost more of a transition from speed to quality over time, but it's less of a dichotomy. F: Any suggestions for the audience when watching Frozen 2? EP: The movie takes place three years after the original story. The movies made six years after the original one came out, so there's been a lot of tech technology advancements. And I hope people can see it in all the beautiful images that are on the screen. At the same time, we want to bring you back to the same characters that you love from the first film. And you'll see some nice additions, like of advancement. Olaf now has a permafrost covering so that he won't melt as it's getting into autumn. He's learned to read now, and all the characters have sort of progressed. Because there has been a time period that's passed in the film as well. F: You have made so many great animation features, which one do you feel most proud of? Why? EP: I love different aspects of all of them. I have a special connection to Zootopia to a certain degree because XGen was one of the first developing (tool), when I first started at the company way back. And it was a big sort of fur-based show, and there was a lot in there that connected with me. Returning to Wreck-it Ralph with Ralph Breaks the Internet, it's always fun to revisit a place that you've been to before. And even going all the way back to Bolt that had a certain painterly style to it. That was exploring sort of a looser look that was a very different look at that time. Thank Mr. Ernest Petti again for accepting our interview. Keep up with Fox Renderfarm and follow us on social media platforms, more interesting and insightful content is waiting for you! Special thanks to Dan Sarto from Animation World Network, Ian Failes from VFXVoice and Chang Wei-Chung from InCG Media. Facebook: facebook.com/foxrender LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/foxrenderfarm Twitter: twitter.com/foxrenderfarm Instgram: instagram.com/foxrenderfarm
SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, the 12th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia, was successfully held in Brisbane, Australia from November 17th to 20th. The 4-day event included a diverse range of juried programs, such as the Art Gallery / Art Papers, Computer Animation Festival, Courses, Doctoral Consortium, Emerging Technologies, Posters, Technical Briefs, Technical Papers and XR (Extended Reality). This year, the conference comprises 250 sessions and features over 800 speakers. As the sponsor for SIGGRAPH Asia 2019, Fox Renderfarm was honored to interview some of the speakers, including Jinny H.J. Choo (SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 Conference Chair), Pol Jeremias-Vila (Computer Animation Festival Chair), Sidney Kombo-Kintombo (Animation Supervisor of Weta Digital), Mike Seymour ( Real-Time Live! Chair), Alyn Rockwood (Doctoral Consortium Chair), Ernest Petti (Studio CG Supervisor of Walt Disney Animation Studios), and Guy Williams (VFX Supervisor of Weta Digital). Please stay tuned with us, exclusive interviews will be brought to you soon! The annual event, which rotated around the Asian region, attracted the most respected technical and creative people from all over the world who are excited by research, science, art, animation, gaming, interactivity, education and emerging technologies. Now, let’s review the highlights of this fantastic conference. Opening Ceremony and Keynote Session Tomasz Bednarz, SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 Conference Chair, gave an overview of how SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 came to be in Australia. Keynote Speaker Donna J. Cox presented an extraordinarily insightful presentation on 'Revolutions in Mapping the Digital Universe: Stories of Satellites, Supercomputers, and the Art of Data Visualization'. SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 Experiences 68 companies and brands, representing 17 countries and regions participated in the SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 Exhibition, some of which have organized Exhibitor Talks. The event showcased the latest cutting-edge hardware and software applications in the computer graphics and interactive techniques space. Doctoral Consortium The SIGGRAPH Asia Doctoral Consortium was a forum for Ph.D. students to meet and discuss their work with each other and a panel of experienced SIGGRAPH Asia researchers in an informal and interactive setting. Featured Session The Featured Session Program cast a spotlight on major breakthroughs, techniques, arts in the field of Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, such as Childish Gambino's Pharos - Real-Time Dome Projection for Live Concert, Making of Pixar's Onward, How Weta Digital Created Junior for Gemini Man, Star Wars: Over Four Decades of Storytelling with Innovation, and so on. Computer Animation Festival Asia's premier computer animation festival showcased a world-wide collection of the year's best works. In four exciting days, presenters showcased their most innovative exploration and transition in computer-generated animation and visual effects. This year’s winners are: BEST IN SHOW: Kids Co-Created by Michael Frei & Mario von Rickenbach, Playables, Switzerland Distributor: Wouter Jansen, Some Shorts, The Netherlands JURY PRIZE: Spring Director: Andy Goralczyk, Blender Foundation, The Netherlands Producer: Francesco Siddi, Blender Foundation, The Netherlands BEST STUDENT PROJECT: The Ostrich Politic Director: Mohammad Houhou, Miyu Distribution, France Producer: Moira Marguin, Miyu Distribution, France Moreover, Its panels and talks included presentations by experts on a variety of topics related to the creation of computer animation and visual effects, as well as behind-the-scenes presentations by creators from the studios and schools, whose works are screened at the festival. Real-Time Live! Real-Time Live! made the future of interactive techniques live on stage. Participants could watch the most innovative interactive techniques as they were presented and deconstructed live by their creators. For artists and scientists, SIGGRAPH Asia is where enthusiasts of computer graphics and techniques gather. It is also a unique interactive platform for exhibitors, fostering connections between exhibitors and the SIGGRAPH Asia community, bringing together new friends, and creating new business opportunities. Fox Renderfarm will continue to support CG learning and communications platforms like SIGGRAPH Asia. We are also looking forward to seeing you in SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 in Daegu, South Korea!