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2 Posts authored by: bruno.murzyn Employee

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.”  

 

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- 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.”

 

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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.