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the 3D production pipeline

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overview
•  basic steps to make a 3d animation
•  why do we need a production pipeline?
•  what is the production pipeline?
•  a tour through the various departments at Pixar

•  no details, just a general picture

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image synthesis steps

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image synthesis
•  geometry

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image synthesis
•  geometry + materials

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image synthesis
•  geometry + materials + lights

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image synthesis
•  geometry + materials + lights = picture

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image synthesis
•  frame the picture using the camera

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image synthesis
•  time to move…

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image synthesis
•  movement (rigid objects and camera)

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image synthesis
•  movement + deformation

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image synthesis
•  movement + deformation = animation

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animation production pipeline

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why do we need a pipeline?
•  animated full-length features are huge endeavors
–  Up to 5 years from conception to final (2 in prod)
–  > 500 people involved
•  requires big budgets and big organizations
–  $ 100 M per movie often

•  need a solid structure to bring the creative


process from conception to final

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what is the production pipeline?
•  logical organization of the steps required to
produce an animated feature film

•  overlaps with the company organizational


structure
–  departments, budgets

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pipeline organization
•  every company has its own pipeline
•  every movie changes the pipeline
–  requirements are changing
–  save money
–  increase the quality of the movie

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organization
•  a movie requires a lot of time and people

•  how do you keep the project focused?


–  vision
–  budget
–  execution
–  smart people that sign up to the vision

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key figures

director
producer
lead technical director
lead animator

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key figures: director
•  creative lead
•  POV: the movie is a creative feast
•  responsible for the look and story-telling aspects
•  final word on all the artistic decisions

•  at Pixar, often the story’s author

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key figures: producer
•  executive lead
•  POV: the movie is a product
•  responsible for the budget aspects
•  final word on all monetary decisions

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key figures: lead TD
•  technical lead
•  POV: the movie is a project
•  responsible for the technical dept.
•  final words on the implementation
•  turns the director requests in technical solutions
that match the budget

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key figures: lead animator
•  animation lead
•  POV: the movie is a play
•  responsible for the animation dept.
•  he can be consider to be the lead actor for the
movie

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pipeline organization

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the simplified pipeline
•  many departments

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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the simplified pipeline
•  preproduction

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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the simplified pipeline
•  characters and sets

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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the simplified pipeline
•  movement

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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the simplified pipeline
•  final images

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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the simplified pipeline
•  vertical hierarchy too

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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the simplified pipeline
•  what was I doing?

Story Editorial Art Casting

Shading Set
Modelling Rigging
Painting Dressing

Layout Animation Simulation Effects

Lighting Rendering
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pipeline “stages”

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story development
•  everything begins with a story!
•  storyboarding
•  process
–  first idea
–  script and drawings that represent the story
–  trial and error process
•  story is told many times and refined over time

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story development

© Pixar/Disney
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story development

© Pixar/Disney
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story pitch
•  first time the story is publicly presented

© Pixar/Disney
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editorial
•  the keeper of the flow
–  study the timing of actions in the movie
•  manage the editing of the movie
–  prepare the various releases
•  similar to a traditional studio
–  but we start with the story before we have video

© Pixar/Disney
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art development
•  develop the look-and-feel of the movie
–  characters and Sets
–  follow it through production
–  make most of the high-level artistic decisions
•  traditional media
–  sketches, pastels, sculptures
•  process
–  start with real world objects
–  develop look: shape, colors, materials
–  develop expressions and movements
–  for characters, sculptures are developed
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art development - characters

© Pixar/Disney
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art development - characters

© Pixar/Disney
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art development - characters

© Pixar/Disney
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art development - environments

© Pixar/Disney
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art development - environments

© Pixar/Disney
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casting
•  voices have to match your characters

© Pixar/Disney
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dialogue recording
•  useful for animation reference

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modeling
•  defines the shape
•  process
–  starts with art data
•  drawings
•  sculptures (sometimes scanned)
–  recreate geometry in the modeling environment
•  models have to
–  look good – to please the eye
–  be functional – to fit in the pipeline
–  work when deformed – for animation

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character modeling

© Pixar/Disney
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character modeling

© Pixar/Disney
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environment and prop modeling

© Pixar/Disney
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environment and prop modeling

© Pixar/Disney
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shading
•  defines the material properties
–  colors
–  light reflectance properties
–  textures
•  process
–  study of real world objects
–  understanding the physics of their appearance
–  understand the important appearance aspects
•  e.g. what make fur like fur (and not hair or grass)?
•  e.g. what makes metal look old?
–  match with overall look of the movie
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shading

© Pixar/Disney
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character rigging
•  prepares a character for animation
–  defines the deformation of the shape
•  shape changes when the character moves
–  defines controls for animators
•  process
–  start with art data
–  work with animation to test the look and controls

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set dressing
•  creates sets out of props
•  prepares a stage for acting

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set dressing

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layout
•  defines the camera
–  starting position
–  framing – which objects are seen
–  movement
•  defines basic object positions
–  starting point for animation
•  story boarding used as reference

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layout

© Pixar/Disney
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animation
•  character movement and expression
•  process
–  study realistic motion
–  develop a style of motion for the movie
–  very similar to acting
–  often develop entire new body language
•  fish smiling?

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animation
•  keyframed animation
–  movement is specified by changing individual controls
on characters at various frames
–  similar to 2d animation
–  used by Pixar and PDI
•  motion capture
–  movement is recorded using live actors
–  editing to fix problems
–  used by Sony Imageworks, Weta

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animation
•  very time consuming!
–  requires big budgets and long development times
•  today biggest distinction between large studios
and smaller ones
•  hard to develop “economy of scale”

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animation

© Pixar/Disney
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animation

© Pixar/Disney
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simulation
•  not possible to animate everything
•  physically-based animation
–  movement is computed to simulate physics
•  applications
–  humans: hair, cloth, skin
–  natural media: water, fire, smoke
–  special effects: explosions

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simulation

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effects
•  natural media: water, fire, smoke
•  weather: snow, rain, wind
•  special effects: explosions, morphing

•  very specific
•  encompasses modeling, animation and shading

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effects

projects in digital art • pipeline © Pixar/Disney © 2009 fabio pellacini • 65


effects

© Pixar/Disney

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effects

© Pixar/Disney

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effects

© Pixar/Disney

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lighting
•  defines scene illumination
•  process
–  study real world footage
–  study material/light interaction
•  simple materials: plastic, woods, etc.
•  complex materials: metals
•  characters: skin, hair
–  start with art images
–  add and change lights to obtain the final picture

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lighting

© Pixar/Disney
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lighting

© Pixar/Disney
particulate surge and reflection
caustics murk
matter well refraction
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lighting

© Pixar/Disney
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rendering
•  compute the final images

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interesting dichotomy
•  stylized characters, look, movement
•  based on physically correct building blocks
–  movement: character animation vs. cloth/hair
simulation
–  shading: colorful surface material vs. subsurface
scattering
–  lighting: “shadow-less” lights vs. global illumination

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shot progression

© Pixar/Disney
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shot progression

© Pixar/Disney
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shot progression

© Pixar/Disney
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shot progression

© Pixar/Disney
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what’s the take home message?
•  movies are huge endeavors
–  big budgets
–  strong production structure
–  people with very different skills
•  story telling
•  art
•  technical
•  research and development
•  not too much artistic freedom
•  a lot of challenging technical issues
–  images we could not make before
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what’s the take home message?
•  if you are an artist
–  not too much artistic freedom
–  think about players in an orchestra
•  you’ve got the music, the director and the other players
–  specialist or generalist?
•  if you are more technical
–  a lot of challenging technical issues
•  images we could not make before
•  cutting costs with better tools
–  have to understand artists and movie making
•  that’s where the money come from

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acknowledgements
•  Pixar Animation Studios
–  permission to use the materials in this presentation
was kindly provided by Pixar Animation Studios

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