[Beowulf] Digital Image Processing via HPC/Cluster/Beowulf - Basics

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Nov 5 18:57:32 PST 2012

On 11/5/12 5:16 PM, "Vincent Diepeveen" <diep at xs4all.nl> wrote:

>Jim as someone who produced games, this is not how it works for most
>movies/animations/commercials where graphics work is needed.
>Note that most movies get editted as well in the same way (each
>nation usually has different requirements).
>First of all - the budget is rather tiny. So that means using
>hardware you would probably yourself not consider using at NASA.

The budget for digital production on a movie is enormous compared to what
we spend at NASA.  

>Secondly the calculation power required to produce movies is rather
>limited. Even a graphics card from years ago has more
>capabilities than any artist single handed can design for. The real
>limitation is the amount of graphics a single person can produce.

Remember the article was talking about 80s-90s production flow..(they were
using SGI and DEC Alphas for gosh sakes).  A "PC" back then a) didn't have
the processor horsepower and b) the proprietary software support for the
tools the artist would use.  The latter is the real hiccup.  For instance,
if you did your editing on an AVID, you weren't paying for the
workstation, you were paying for the user interface, and the hardware
essentially came along for the ride.

>Producing a head requires the work of an artist specialized in that,
>for a full month. Rendering that is a manner of minutes at
>a single core. We speak of a CPU.

Hmm.. Try running POVray on an old Pentium with a 2048x2048 output size.
Now do that for 24 or 30 frames/second.  That's more than a "few minutes"

Today, sure, an ratty discount PC has plenty of horsepower, so the model
has changed significantly.

My comments were towards the workflow and speeds at the time of that

Today, things have changed (what with RED cameras and digital
distribution, especially).  Film is a dying medium.

>On Nov 5, 2012, at 11:49 PM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>> What I find interesting (and which is characteristic of this
>> application space) is the sort of bimodal requirement:
>> 1)      High performance workstation with bespoke software that the
>> digital artist uses
>> 2)      A render farm to grind out the final product.  (quite the
>> EP task, in general)
>> The workflow is similar to the traditional film workflow, where
>> each person gets a piece to work on, and then it¹s handed off to
>> someone else to composite with the other pieces and build up the
>> whole film.  The artist would work in wireframe or with rendered
>> key frames, do the changes, then send it off to be rendered.  The
>> next work day, the fully rendered product is complete and viewable.
>> The other interesting thing is that this problem space has HUGE
>> disk space requirements (although instantaneous bandwidth
>> requirements aren¹t all that high to stream video).  It wasn¹t
>> unusual in the late 80s, early 90s to see a workstation with dozens
>> of firewire drives in a big column attached to hold the raw video.
>> Providing a suitable multi-user server architecture is quite
>> challenging.
>> Several movies in the 90s made use of what were essentially boxes
>> of disk drives that were flown back and forth every day from one
>> location to another.  (the ³nothing beats FedEx for raw bandwidth²
>> modelŠ getting tens of Mbps network connectivity to rural Czech
>> Republic or Romania where the location shoot is happening isn¹t easy.)

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