Steve LaVietes visit
Today I had the chance to see Steve LaVietes at SCAD. We got this e-mail yesterday that he would be in to talk a little bit about Katana.
He is one of the main developers of Katana. He has worked at Sony Imageworks for over 12 years and the thing is that he is a former Student and Professor at SCAD. He had a ton of annecdotes about his years as a Student/Professor and also about his professional life. But more importantly he had a ton of knowledge to give us about Katana and VFX pipelines and what his opinions were on where it’s all going in the VFX industry.
Katana is a “Pipe-line / Lighting tool” (in my words, don’t take this as a fact) first developed in-house at Sony Imageworks and then converted into a commercial tool by the Foundary with the help of the developers at Sony, and of course Steve was a huge part of that.
The important thing that got stuck with me after this informal presentation that lasted 2 hours, was when he was talking about the renderers they where using. One of the things that Katana is going to be a big deal is that it integrates with different renderers. So then he started talking about the Arnold Renderer developed by a company in Spain called Solid Angle (there site is down at the moment so…). It has also been co-developed at some point with Sony Imageworks.
Basically the Arnold renderer is a Brute Force Ray-Tracing Renderer that gives some amazing results and that some studios have already switched to. One of it’s developers can be seen giving a presentation here. The fact with Ray-tracing there is no pre-computation so lighters can spend more time actually lighting and having quicker results than waiting for pre-passes, deep-shadow passes, point-cloud baking to be finish to actually see a result.
”[…] An hour of a Lighter is “$40” an hour. An hour of CPU time is “10 cents” […] “
-Marcos Fajardo , Solid Angle
So basically, what I extracted from all this is that, there is going to be some migration to ray-tracing renderers such as Arnold when wanting to do photo-realistic, or physically-based renders, in full-CG or VFX-driven features. Which is kind of let me a strange feeling after beginning to learn RenderMan an knowing some of it’s advantages. It kind of gave me a paradigm shift on the concept I’ve built about RenderMan in this first three or four weeks of learning the basics of it.
Oh well… you have to stay on top of things, that is for sure. For more info just go to the Foundary’s website on Katana which is supposed to be released shortly.
Have a good one! See you soon!