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3 Posts authored by: bruno.murzyn Employee

By Pawel Jaruga, 3D Artist, Poland

 

 

Creative technology for the ages

 

Over the course of my decade-long career as a 3D artist and digital sculptor, there has never been greater opportunity for creative freedom as there is today. With access to powerful software and hardware, professionals in creative industries today are able to put all of their efforts into bringing their vision to life – without being held back by technology.

 

 

At the start of my career, I found that my creative vision was often limited to creating and delivering what was easy, achievable and realistic. A decade on, and with several investments in technology along the way, my creative process – from modelling and texturing to shading and rendering – has allowed me to create increasingly detailed models faster and more seamlessly.

 

In the past, when processors (CPU) and graphic cards (GPU) didn’t have the high-performance capabilities they do today, I found that I was constrained by the number of triangles and faces I could achieve and the textures I could create in a character model.

 

This lack of processing power made things challenging when I was working from home using a single workstation as everything took so long, especially when creating animations. Even the difference in hardware now compared to three years ago has given my workflow a huge boost.

 

In my everyday workflow, I now use the 3D sculpting software Zbrush and several GPU renderers including AMD Radeon ProRender, while my hardware includes AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100 Graphics (provided to me by AMD) and an 8-Core 4.0 GHz processor with 64GB RAM. With previous hardware a few years ago, I was creating models where 20-50 million triangles models were considered a lot for a freelancer. But today, my workstation can handle upwards of 200 million triangles. So for high poly models going up to 70-120 million of triangles is nothing special anymore.

 

Meanwhile, for texturing, I use Substance Painter and 3D Coat and my hardware includes at least 8GB of video memory. This is really the minimum you can have for texturing a standard game character with a 4096-texture set, which means a resolution of 4096 x 4096 pixels. This is a huge jump from the start of my career, back when the texture limit was 1024 x 1024 per character.

 

 

Technology advancements such as these have not only allowed us creatives to develop more realistic and vivid characters, but have also enabled real-time rendering, which means I can see any changes as I make them, resulting in a much faster workflow. I also have the ability to produce photorealistic images that help create a highly detailed and believable 3D world.

 

You can also easily light scenes and models with single HDRI images and include photogrammetry scans in your modelling workflow – real world items and human 3-dimensional scans based on photo sets taken around objects, which can also include high resolution textures.

 

Overall, this helps make the creative process much more fun, as you’re not having to wrestle with your hardware. There really has never been a better time to be a video game designer.

 

Best ever performance, best ever value

 

The affordability of software and hardware tools has continued to improve, to support this technology journey toward creative freedom, and 3D artists and developers can now focus on using superior software and their skills to their full potential.

 

 

However, how you balance performance and value depends on your needs. My requirements change depending on whether I’m earning money from rendering work, or whether I’m modelling and texturing high-end video game characters where I need to be able to work in real-time with multiple 4K textures sets. Or whether I’m creating simple models for mobile games or lower-end video games, where I don’t need to display as many textures at once. As I need a lot of video memory, it can be difficult to find the right balance, but I will always buy the best GPU I can afford to help boost my workflow.

 

How a diverse industry creates diverse thinking

 

3D artists come into the field from diverse backgrounds, both technical and artistic. To be a 3D artist, you need some creative skill, but creativity is something you can nurture throughout your career. As for technical skills, if you don’t already possess these you can learn (although it’s harder if you don’t have a background in computing). Saying that, today’s software tools are far more accessible and user-friendly, helped by powerful hardware that speeds up the workflow and improves performance. For instance, nowadays you don’t have to start modelling with a base mesh, you can create forms and shapes without using any mathematical or technical approach. So effectively whatever jumps out of your head can materialise as a 3D model.

 

 

While technical skills and an artistic background will make your first steps in your career as a 3D artist easier, patience is also a key skill, as you’ll need to work for many hours a day to hone your craft. I recently taught two people from scratch, neither of whom had much experience with specialised computer software, and now they are working as successful professional 3D artists. Both have a high level of patience, persistence and a willingness to learn and develop.

 

Being Polish, it’s also exciting to see the growth of this industry in my home country. We have great 3D artists and developers here, and with today’s modern technology, we are now afforded the same level of creative freedom as those users in western Europe and America, where the biggest productions are made.

 

Our home-grown game development industry is evolving, with studios including Flying Wild Hog, The Astronauts, 11 Bit Studios, CI Games, Techland, People Can Fly and CD PROJEKT RED – of course, the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 is on the way next year. Not only are these companies attracting employees from around the world but investors too, drawn by the investment opportunities in our local industry.

 

 

AR & VR: The next frontier

 

While powerful hardware is currently used to provide the best possible experience to users via a screen in front of them – through the use of, for example, AMD FreeSync Technology and 8K screens – the next frontier will be immersive experiences, such as VR and AR.

 

 

The professional applications of VR and AR is already advancing, with 3D artists using headsets such as Oculus and HTC Vive to sculpt and draw in VR. This will be the next step on our collective technology journey and an extremely exciting one for creatives here in Europe and beyond.

 

 

 

About Pawel Jaruga

 

Pawel "Levus3D" Jaruga is a character artist, digital sculptor and instructor based in Poland. He has over 10 years’ experience in games, commercials and cinematics industry. He’s also the owner of Creepytables.com, miniatures and collectibles studio. You can view his work here.

 

Notable game credits:

  • Witchfire (The Astronauts, TBC)
  • Hard Reset: Redux (Flying Wild Hog, 2016)
  • Shadow Warrior 2 (Flying Wild Hog, 2016)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome - Legendary Edition (Crytek/Microsoft, 2014)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek/Microsoft, 2013)
  • Shadow Warrior (Flying Wild Hog, 2013)
  • Hard Reset: Exile (Flying Wild Hog, 2012)
  • Hard Reset (Flying Wild Hog, 2011)
  • Ancient Quest of Saqqarah (Codeminion, 2008)
  • Stoneloops! of Jurassica (Codeminion, 2008)

 

Specific focus areas:

  • 3D Design, Modelling and Printing
  • Character Design and Modelling
  • Creature Design and Modelling
  • Digital Sculpting
  • Physically Based Rendering
  • Texturing

 

Software used:

  • AMD ProRender
  • Zbrush
  • 3DCoat
  • 3DS Max
  • Blender
  • Marmoset
  • Marvelous Designer
  • Octane Render
  • Substance Painter

 

Pawel Jaruga received a Radeon Pro WX9100 graphics card in exchange for his blog contribution. The blog represents Mr. Jaruga’s own thoughts and opinions as of the date published. AMD and/or the third-party blogger have no obligation to update any forward-looking content in the above blog. AMD is not responsible for the content of any third-party and does not necessarily endorse the comments made therein. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Major French musical show by Dove Attia, “The Legend of King Arthur: when love changes the course of history” was a hit right from its première on September 17, 2015 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, before going on tour in France, Belgium, and Switzerland.The director, Giuliano Peparini, uses digital technology to create magical effects and 3D virtual scenery. To respond to this challenge he called on D/Labs, a specialist in digital scenery and innovative video systems, such as advanced 3D video mapping and complex LED installations.

 

The Legend of King Arthur drew on three areas of our business: content creation (design studio), technical design and realization. Several challenges had to be overcome to achieve the desired effect for the ambitious production – the medium, the project’s scale, and also our SMODE software (http://smode.fr ), developed using AMD FirePro W9100 cards, installed in Dell Poweredge servers and Dell Precision workstations,” explains Thomas Besson, D/Labs’ co-founder.

 

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- ©AnthonyGhnassia-8

 

A considerable challenge...
Technology and artistry are closely linked in this kind of show. This is why D/Labs’ choice of technologies was perfect for the show’s success. Thomas Besson, D/Labs’ co-founder, enthusiastically embraced the challenge: “We are responsible for the virtual scenery. They can be seen throughout the show on two types of medium – a giant curved LED screen at the back of the stage measuring around 200 m², in addition to the projection mapping onto the scenery (at the wings and sometimes center stage).”  

Not only must the accuracy and realism of the virtual scenery be perfect, it must also overcome an additional hurdle: movement. “All the sets move in five different sections. Furthermore, the stage left and right sections rotate (motorized) adding to the challenge for the projection to reach all these parts of the set,” the specialist explains.  “The image has to remain perfectly positioned on the scenery as the parts move. This was one of the most complex technical aspects of the project.”  

 

Layers LRA_DLabs.png

- Stage background layers

... and even more complicated constraints
For the video to follow the moving scenery, D/Labs uses a combination of four projectors (26,000 lumens) to achieve dynamic 3D mapping. This is delicate automation work which directly impacts the show’s storyline. Eight panels (8 meters high by three meters) close the scene downstage. They are directly connected to the video controls so that they constantly display an image,” Thomas Besson confides. “Sometimes they become a door, sometimes a wall... A mechanism which makes a piece of scenery appear depending on the action.”  


New 3D horizons for production
Real time and the ability to adapt on-the-fly elevates the visual effects engineer to a starring role where production is concerned, as Thomas Besson explains:  “We actually bring our design studio into the venue. We discuss real-time production with the director. He positions his actors in the scene, he creates a tableau. Then you introduce the lighting and scenery. The same applies to the image. The director takes his laser pointer and asks us to position the elements. Our software diffuses the most natural image as quickly as possible. We design a real-time workflow in order to be highly responsive at that point. This ‘real-time compositing’ is really our specialty and the main reason why D/Labs relies on AMD technologies and its cards’ computing ability. This type of real-time production comes from the school of Juliano, who was associate director to Franco Dragone (Cirque du Soleil’s former artistic director). We have been greatly inspired by this production philosophy, which leaves the producer almost total freedom and is modeled on the haute couture houses’ bespoke approach.”

 

©AnthonyGhnassia-8.jpg-©AnthonyGhnassia-177


At the heart of the magic: AMD FirePro W9100 Graphics Cards
The scenery movement seems very simple and fluid to the viewer. And this is just what the show’s director and producer want. Most contemporary shows use video effects, but generally the projected content has already been created in a studio before the event. Thanks to 3D real-time technology, the innovative software developed by D/Labs can follow moving objects or parts of the set. “Real-time 3D has proved indispensable. In fact it is not possible to calculate the images in advance, because you never know when the panels will move,” stresses the co-founder Thomas Besson. “Real-time 3D is generated by AMD cards built into Dell Precision computers and workstations. D/Labs uses AMD’s highest specification product, the FirePro W9100 card.”  

The cutting edge AMD FirePro W9100 graphics card is the only one to currently offer 16 Gb of ultra-fast GDDR5 memory, a 512-bit interface, 320 Gb/s bandwidth and six simultaneous video outputs. It is a highly efficient way of editing and managing the 4K (or ultra high definition) video combining multiple real-time effects, while keeping textures and colors faithful.

“We have been using GPUs (cards and graphic processors) for many years,” reports Thomas Besson. “We started using this platform almost fifteen years ago. Then we tried several competitor solutions, but after all that we came back to AMD. They now embody a major advantage for our business, both financially and for our work associated with the theatrical world (multi-outputs, size of memory, etc.). The capacity of these cards is of interest to us, but AMD provides us with great performance and price solutions. Finally, we value the expert attention and support that AMD has provided to us as a valued customer. Their expertise in graphics technology has helped us be successful to get the most out of the AMD FirePro products.”  

Use of third party marks / names is for informational purposes only and no endorsement of or by AMD is intended or implied

Photos by ©AnthonyGhnassia

We live in an era of ubiquitous video, animation and advanced graphics. It’s hard to fathom the progress that has been made over the last 10 to 15 years, how much work is carried out by computers today, and what can be achieved by the authors of modern day cartoons, advertisements or amateur videos on countless YouTube channels. In the early 2000s, we saw animated films such as ‘Toy Story’, ‘Shrek’ and other big Disney or Dreamworks movie studio productions. Back then, anyone trying to create animation at home faced a huge challenge, but the tools available from companies like AMD have been key to facilitating the animation revolution.

 

In 2003, when the first 64-bit consumer processor – Athlon 64 – was launched, AMD held an animation competition to illustrate the new levels of quality and capabilities this brand new technology offered. Daniel Zdunczyk, from Poland was the competition winner with a project entitled “May 1”. His animation took the jury by storm and won him the latest (at the time) AMD-based computer and a $6,400 prize.

 

This was just the beginning of an ongoing cooperation between AMD and this excellent artist. Interestingly, he used the prize money in the best way possible. By combining his creativity with entrepreneurship, Daniel developed the Virtual Magic studio, which has since become a regional Polish leader in video animation. Over the years, the company has completed a number of innovative projects, such as ‘Kajko and Kokosz™’ video (a Slavic equivalent of the Asterix and Obelix™ adventures), 3D movies such as ‘History of Cieszyn™’, and 5D movies such as ‘Asylum ™’ and ‘Mysterious Underworld™’. In addition, Virtual Magic Studio has also produced animations for entertainment venues, including Prehistoric Oceanarium, allowing visitors to view  million-year-old animals on a screen as if watching through a window. Throughout the years, AMD has supported these efforts by providing access to the latest multi-core processor technologies and graphics accelerators.

 

Excitingly, the most ambitious project was yet to come – an animated children’s feature film that combined hyper-realistic 3D set design with traditional 2D cel animation. These were a few of the creative techniques that Daniel used to film his latest enterprise,  ‘Golden Drops™’.

 

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“This style is consistent with the global trend of returning to hand drawn characters combined with modern 3D animation,” explained Daniel Zdunczyk, director and animation supervisor at Virtual Magic Studio. “This unique combination has an extremely innovative effect but with the spirit of the old-time hits, such as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Space Jam’. While this process placed much higher demands on hardware, we were fortunate in having AMD support and technologies. The only limits we had came from our own imagination.”

 

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Over the four year development taken to create the movie, Virtual Magic used a variety of animation tools:  3DSMAX® for 3D objects;  Real Flow® for simulating water; Toon Boom® for 2D characters; and Adobe After Effects® for post-processing. At each stage of the creation process, the studio used AMD hardware, including multi-core AMD Opteron™ processors and the latest AMD FirePro™ professional graphics cards to render the most compute-intensive forest landscape scenes in real time.

 

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Animating, tracing and coloring the characters was also much faster thanks to multi-threaded processing for the 16-bit high resolution bitmaps conversion process. The complexity of the project was particularly evident when merging animations that resulted from two distinct techniques. Countless layers and components added up to terabytes of uncompressed data essential to the creation of crystal clear images. The accelerated process enable by AMD FirePro graphics allowed massive amounts of data to be efficiently processed and artists to see changes almost immediately.

 

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“It’s amazing to see the results of this cooperation between AMD and Virtual Magic, especially since we know where these ambitious developers started from, and what ideas and needs they had from the beginning to the present day,” said David Watters,  director of ISV product relationships, AMD. “AMD’s commitment, simply put, is to support creative artists, so that they can give free reign to their imagination without concerns about their hardware keeping up, so that they can create incredible and beautiful visions.”

 

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Virtual Magic has completed this ambitious ‘Golden Drops’ project with the help of a former Hanna-Barbera® employee, Artur Maka. The uniqueness of the film comes not only in mixing 2D and 3D techniques, but also by being an enjoyable family romp featuring fast-paced action and positive emotions. The film has just started being shown at festivals but it has already won the ANIMATION FEATURE FILM – JURY category at the Dada Aaheb Phalke Film Festival in India and the BEST ANIMATION category at the New Media Film Festival in the U.S. The film is scheduled to be shown in selected cinemas this fall to continue to delight children and parents of all ages based on the innovative technologies from AMD.