Working on PIXAR LAVA Animated Short: A Graphics Software Engineer’s Point of View

After seeing the Disney Pixar short, LAVA, there was no doubt in my mind that the environment that was showcased was gorgeous and the graphics was looking really defined. While many things were very interesting about the short, what drew me in particular was the technology behind the graphics. As luck would have it, my friend Brandon who is a Graphics Software Engineer worked on the short and kindly help me shed some light about his role in LAVA and the difference between coding for a feature and a short in his experience. PIXAR LAVA Trailer Clip Link 1. What was your role in the short? I wrote some shiny new code that allows for “deformable vector displacement,” to help create ridges on the volcanoes in the short. Displacement is a common Computer Graphics technique to add geometric complexity by “displacing” the geometry using a texture. This texture, usually a height map (black for low, white for high), allows the shading TD to control some of the more fine-grained look of the asset, and allows for details that normally require many polygons. Vector displacement is a specific flavor of displacement that allows for surface deformations in more directions than “out” and “in.” The “vector” part of “vector displacement” means that you can really displace the surface by a 3D vector. This is less common than a scalar displacement, as it requires more math, is slower, has artifacts if not handled correctly, and has weird edge cases. Deformable vector displacement means that the vector displacement authored on the asset moves with the geometry. For Lava, the ridges on the volcano...

The Animator’s Prayer: A Poem by Andrew Goh

With this being the last week of finals, we posted up a beautiful poem of a prayer to keep all the animators. Today’s feature is a bit different from the rest but a close friend of mine and a crazy brilliant and ridiculously fast and versatile animator, Andrew Goh wrote a prayer for animators that are still facing their final countdown before deadlines.   Andrew Goh ©2015 with minor graphic tweaks from Shir Wen Sun The Animator’s Prayer by Andrew Goh Our artist, who roughs in extremes, Hallowed be thy keys, Thy breakdowns come, Thy in-betweens done, On Pegs, as it is in Autodesk Maya ©2015 Give us this day our dailies And Forgive us our rotoscopes, as we forgive those who mo-cap, And lead us not into procrastination but deliver us from crunch-time, That’s a...