A Tale of Teslas

by - 2012/03/31 28 Comments Production, Random

Yesterday the courier arrived and we received the two – sponsored by Nvidia – Tesla computing units we’ve been waiting for days! It’s been a nice afternoon at the institute, with Sergey configuring the correct drivers in order to unleash the power of two cards and Ian making fruit smoothies to relieve the tension. More interesting information comes after the documentary “A Tale of Teslas”.

If you skipped the video, here the render time for the BMW benchmark file:

  • 1 Tesla: 1 min 4 secs
  • 2 Tesla: 34 secs

Although this result is not really comparable to the one obtainable with a GTX 580 (23 secs),  there is a main difference: Tesla cards have 6GB of memory, each. This means that in the dual configuration we could render a test scene (the bridge scene) with several GB worth of textures and data (otherwise impossible on a GTX).
The time for rendering such scene was:

  • Dual Tesla config: 5 mins
  • Dual Xeon rendernode: 15 mins

We are going to get Brecht over here very soon to see if he can improve the performances of Cycles on this cards. Will we eventually be able to replace the whole renderfarm with a GPU-based solution? We don’t know yet!

Currently we’ve put the cards next to more humble GTX 260’s in two workstations, this will help designing a lot. Special thanks to Nvidia for giving us these cards to test!

Open Street Maps import

by - 2012/03/30 14 Comments Development, Production

Campbell Barton ported the OpenStreetMap import script to 2.6 for us !

And it’s now in trunk.

The script loads XML files saved from the OpenStreetMap website (http://www.openstreetmap.org) into Blender (as edges).

This was quite helpful in blocking out the Oude Kerk area for mango (to correctly place the church and the buildings around)

Now, we’re integrating these maps with more detailed infos (necessary for the final models but also for animatic / previz purpose)

The the finer measurements will come from survey or more accurate plans  : city planning maps can be very useful in these situations (especially roads height measures)

We haven’t got those yet but we might be able to get all needed data from tracking (Sebastian is testing that on the ground surfaces  just now)

Tracking de Oude Kerk

by - 2012/03/29 13 Comments Development, Production

After finishing the Track, Match, Blend DVD this week I could finally start doing something more useful for the production.

In order to help with the reconstruction of the set at the Oude Kerk I have started tracking various shots that I took there, getting a more or less good geometry reconstruction out of that. But there is always a slight error margin in these tracks, so the resulting geometry is never 100% perfect. Still, it is very useful to get a sense of scale and proportion with some actual footage. The nice thing about Blender’s tracking system is the flexibility to link in several shots at once and align the cameras manually, to get multiple views aligned, and thereby getting a pretty big point-cloud reconstruction of the scene.


Production update: Composer Joram Letwory

by - 2012/03/29 11 Comments Production

March is nearly over, the filming dates (around May 10) are getting closer every day! So much todo :)

Here’s some news tidbits from the production department:

  • Composer & sound designer: Joram Letwory
    I’m already following Joram’s work a couple of years – yes he’s the brother of Blender developer Nathan “Jesterking” Letwory – and I’ve always been impressed with this work. More over, he’s not only a great composer and sound designer but even doing film and hiphop & dance clips! I’m very happy he accepted to help us with music and sound! It’ll be a tough job to work in the shadow of the great Jan Morgenstern, but it’s time to give a new talent a chance to get a public portfolio with a film soundtrack!
  • Ian and me had a meeting with production designer Romke Faber to go over a lot of practical filming details. He already did film design for several blockbusters here in the Netherlands. Needless to say – good quality films have production designers involved from the very beginning! For Mango, we have a lot of great artists on board already though, under Ian Hubert’s creative direction. For the filming itself however we can really use Romke’s help here. We’ll only have a week to film and we better make our sets & props work out perfect!
  • Rob Tuytel arranged us a surprise visitor next week: monday the famous director Dick Maas will be coming over for a studio visit! Dick is the renowned (and and first!) action & horror director we have in the Netherlands. His films usually give a nice level of controversy – with as many haters as lovers. His somewhat cheesy Dutch style is definitely well aligned with Ian’s American cheddar approach! It’ll be a fun visit ;)
  • Joris Kerbosch (DP) has already found us his crucial buddies for on the set; a Key Grip, a Focus Puller and a Gaffer! I need to settle deals with them first, then we’ll talk more about it.
  • Sebastian – finally done with dvd duties – now is refining our breakdown spreadsheet into fine detail for sets, props, etc. He’ll be doing preparations & tests for us as some kinda mix of assistant director & production designer. That’s what vfx supervisors do!

(Image: Joram)


Call for review: Blender Demoloop

by - 2012/03/29 25 Comments Random

Hi everyone!

Although this is not strictly Mango-related news, I would like to share it with as many blender users as possible. A few days ago Ton asked me to collect some nice blendfiles to use as Blender feature showcase for one of our sponsors: HP computers. This is called the Blender Demoloop and will be displayed on booths,  computers in stores, and so on. It will eventually fit on a USB stick as a portable demo. It will also be available for download under CC-BY license. I’m asking for support to the community for two reasons:

  • testing the demoloop and providing feedback
  • provide more/better contents for it

How to test the loop

You can download this archive (~300MB) and try opening either _start_demo_CPU.blend (cycles render will be done with CPU) or _start_demo_GPU.blend (cycles will use GPU). WARNING: you need a very recent (trunk) version of blender, which you can download here. Please be patient for a few seconds after you open the file, since the loop could take some time to start. If you encounter any issues please make sure to mention your blender build, OS and basic hardware config (RAM, GPU, ecc).

How to provide contents

Just leave comment here with a link to the content you would like to point out. We can accept only CC-BY, CC-0 contents. Your work will be properly credited of course.

Please help spread this message so that we can create an awesome showcase and prove Blender’s industry-level capabilities.

Got bones?

by - 2012/03/28 13 Comments Rigging

So the rigging of the Robot is going well.

595 bones and counting! Any bets on how many it’ll have by the end of it all?


edit 7pm same day: now at 637

Really Far Behind the Scenes

by - 2012/03/26 29 Comments Uncategorized

Can I in good conscience suggest you watch this video? No. And yet- it is here.

13 minutes of almost completely unedited Mango action; mostly filmed during times that have almost nothing to do with mango, and featuring an absurdly disproportionate amount of Ian’s face.

May I present:

Really Far Behind the Scenes

Update libraries script

by - 2012/03/25 3 Comments Development

Hey there!

Just wanted to share one script which might be useful for almost everyone (and after some further improvements for everyone :)

This script checks which files in svn repository were moved/renamed using `svn mv` command and updates paths used by data blocks in all blend files from this repository preventing “dead links” and manual work to repair all this stuff.


Studio Hardware

by - 2012/03/25 34 Comments Development, Production

Hello everyone,

Apparently you can’t do a computer graphics without using computers. But which exactly computers and how much of them we’re using?

Couple of different hardware configurations are used in the studio by artists and by renderfarm and this short post is devoted to describe which exactly hardware configurations we’re using for Mango project. As an addition there’re benchmark result of CPU and GPU rendering on that systems provided at the end of this post.