Visual Effects: From Film to Real-time

Event Date: April 22, 2009
Speaker: Jonathan Cohen
Speaker Affiliation: Research Scientist, NVIDIA
Type: ECE Seminar
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: EE 118
Contact Name: Prof. Rudolf Eigenmann
Open To: Acceptable for ECE694A
This talk will cover recent trends and techniques in
state-of-the-art feature film visual effects, focusing on the
"Sandstorm" effects system which was developed at Sony Imageworks for
Spider-Man 3.  Sandstorm was used to model, animate, simulate, and
render hundreds of millions of sand grains per frame to create the
Sandman character.  Sandstorm was designed to push the limits of visual
fidelity, and therefore complex tasks took several hours of computation
on high-end CPUs.  The enormous gains in computational throughput
afforded by modern programmable GPUs allows for many of these techniques
to be run interactively on consumer-level GPUs.  I will present recent
work at NVIDIA developing fluid simulation, volume rendering, and ray
tracing systems that deliver quality comparable to that seen in feature
films, but at interactive rates.  The talk will conclude with a
discussion the issue of convergence between films and video games, and
important research topics to the future of both.

Biography - Jonathan Cohen is a Research Scientist with NVIDIA, where
he develops methods for using NVIDIA's massively parallel GPUs for
scientific computing and real-time physical simulation.  Previous to
joining NVIDIA, he spent several years working in the Hollywood feature
film visual effects industry, where he developed software for films
including "Spider-Man 3" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."

He was awarded a Technical Academy Award in 2007 for his work in fluid
simulation for visual effects.  Jonathan received an undergraduate
degree from Brown.