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Silverdraft Mobileviz rolls out

COW Library : Cinematography : Debra Kaufman : Silverdraft Mobileviz rolls out
CreativeCOW presents Silverdraft Mobileviz rolls out -- Cinematography Feature


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Going mobile with digital dailies and on-set DI has been a trend in the last few years. Why not extend that concept to 2D and 3D stereo, in-camera pre-viz, real-time, high-resolution visualization of VFX shots and performance/motion capture recording? And make it all mobile.

Welcome to Silverdraft Mobileviz, which is described as "first super-computer-powered digital and visual effects (VFX) studios-on-wheels." The idea is take mobile services to the next level; whether it's on the studio lot or on location, Mobileviz allows the director to incorporate digital tools in more flexible, powerful way, regardless of whether the studio or location lacks or provides insufficient infrastructure.


Shots of the artists' work area in Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser.
Shots of the artists' work area in Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser. To view a larger image, please click above


I visited the new Mobileviz trailer in a Hollywood parking lot this week and got the grand tour from Silverdraft founder/CEO Amy Gile. "This has been two-and-a-half years in the making," she said, gesturing around the ergonomically designed trailer. Gile, who comes from a background as a producer, came up with the idea of Silverdraft Mobileviz to solve a production problem. Wouldn't it be great, she thought, if every director could pre-visualize live action and CG elements in-camera 'live' on the set.


Shots of the artists' work area in Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser.
Shots of the artists' work area in Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser. To view a larger image, please click above


When she asked an IT expert if such a solution were possible, he laughed at her. "He said I was out of my mind and that the only person who could do something like this is Dr Srinidhi Varadarajan." Gile promptly called Dr. Varadarajan, director for Virginia Tech's center of high-end computing systems and associate professor in the department of computer science, who quickly saw the applicability of super-computing for visual effects. He became a founder of the company and is also its systems architect.

The core of Silverdraft Mobileviz is Dr. Varadarajan's proprietary super-computing technology. The first in the fleet of Mobileviz trailers--the one I toured this week--offers 30 teraflops processing. FLOPS is an acronym meaning FLoating point OPerations per Second; a teraflop is one trillion floating point operations per second. But this first trailer in the fleet is just the beginning, said Gile. The next trailer is slated to be a higher-end system, capable of being scaled to process up to 350 teraflops. That will catapult Silverdraft Mobileviz into the ranks of the most advanced VFX/production facilities…the ones not on wheels.


The supercomputer that lies within within Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser.
The supercomputer that lies within within Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser. To view a larger image, please click above


What does the Silverdraft's super-computer power? Inside, you can find Autodesk MotionBuilder, Maya and 3DS Max; Mental Images' Mental Ray renderer; Chaos Group's Vray; Qube! render management from PipelineFX; Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid editing; and on-set dailies and full color management capabilities with Filmlight's Baselight and TrueLight. The trailer also sports 20TB of Micron solid-state storage, incorporated into a cluster of 1,536 compute cores. The work space can be configured to match whatever each project requires.


The supercomputer that lies within within Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser.
The supercomputer that lies within within Silverdraft Mobileviz. Photos by Jeff Heusser. To view a larger image, please click above


The Silverdraft team, which also includes president Steve Hendricks and head of marketing/business development Michael Cooper, is collaborating on a proof-of-concept test. In conjunction with strategic partners that include pre-visualization expert The Third Floor, Autodesk, VFX artist/director Alex Frisch, and performance capture specialists Knight Vision, the project was shot with the ARRI Alexa and RED Epic and ingested by Silverdraft Mobileviz's Codex Digital system.

"While they shot, the director could move the CG imagery in real time to exactly where he wanted it to be," says Gile. "We could change previz on the fly. With the super-computer we're rendering in real-time, and we captured ARRIRAW files in real-time and were able to pipe that, with an HD stream, to Baselight and Flame to set the looks to do the comps in Smoke."

"Directors can combine and pre-visualize live action and CG elements in-camera 'live' on the set, and every department in a film, TV or commercial production can work with the material immediately," she adds. "They can see how the material looks and will edit together, and decide what reshoots/pick-ups are needed while on set. Creative decisions, such as editorial, color and VFX visualizations, are less restricted by timelines and financial constraints."

Silverdraft is headquartered in Boise, Idaho, and its Los Angeles headquarters are on Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile. But, the unit is ready to roll onto the studio lot or to any state with film incentives, says Gile. The company is also in development on its next two systems: One trailer will be equipped for the independent film market and the other for the TV/commercial market.

"The super-computer on the set is the right technology," says Gile. "Market forces and digital capture are taking it here, changing the industry but bringing it immense opportunities without hindering the artist."

 


 

Debra Kaufman

Debra Kaufman

“I am thrilled to be joining the COW team,” said Debra Kaufman, newly named Associate Editor of Creative COW Magazine. “In an era in which so much coverage has shrunk to 300-word sound bites, I'm delighted to be able to cover the dramatic changes in our industry in depth. Additionally, I look forward to reaching a huge number of engaged readers working in production and post, in the U.S. and internationally. Publisher Ronald Lindeboom and Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson early on understood the importance of a web presence, and have created an astonishingly large audience both online and in print.”

Look forward to more great stories from Debra in Creative COW Magazine, and online here at CreativeCOW.net.









Comments

Re: Silverdraft Mobileviz rolls out
by John Baumchen
dreams into reality....


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