event siggraph technical artist

Event: Siggraph "The Art of Lighting and Rendering Rio"

I went to the Siggraph event “The Art of Lighting and Rendering Rio” for the new animated movie Rio which featured Jim Gettinger, Lighting Supervisor at Blue Sky Studios. Blue Sky Studios (New York) is owned by Twentieth Century Fox and has a pretty good 3D rendering history including Ice Age movies, Robots, Horton Hears a Who and more.

Gettinger talked about a number of aspects that were important to lighting Rio as well as initial concepts for creativity and direction. The first focus in the 3D movie is chosing the style. For Rio they went with ~80 percent realism (higher for human characters), 20% stylized, which can be seen in the stylized yet recognizable shapes in the movie. Probably the most interesting bit of news was the proprietary tool called “Studio” that Blue Sky Studio uses. I suspect it is a layer that sits on top of Maya and has its own renderer or sits on top of Mental Ray that allows for more level details to be exposed through tools for the artists. Some of the functionality includes:

– Voxels for feathers, plants and eventually buildings.
– Procedural textures on all background terrain and buildings (including all of the panoramic screen shots in the movie).
– Atmospheric pass that interacts with the raytracer.

There is not a lot of information about the CGI Studio propreitary software, but there is a link describing a little more at but that was of course the most interesting part of the talk for me.

Some of the other information that was interesting was they had up to a 13 hour render for some of the frames on shots on Rio. There was a lot of compositing work and complexity of the shots (reflections, shadows etc.) dealing with the human characters’ glasses. Some of the work invovled creating a separate pass for blending with refraction index of 1.1 (instead of 1.5 for glass), to give a more realistic look. There was also quite a lot of research and development done on the skin of the human characters, especially related to subsurface scattering. They needed to update subsurface scattering for different areas of face, creating additional maps for those areas that need scattering like on the character’s nose.

An interesting talk, in an interesting building (looks like an art gallery on the outside, a bar on the inside and a theater inside that :P).

Looks like I will have to check out that movie now,
Michael Hubbard

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