Issue: Volume 36 Issue 2: (Jan/Feb 2013)


The Foundry Releases Nuke 7.0

VFX software developer The Foundry has rolled out Nuke 7.0, the latest version of its compositor. The new software offers increased performance as well as added support for Alembic and OpenEXR 2.0 Deep Data.

Nuke 7.0 introduces RAM cache, a feature that gives users real-time playback. Also debuting in the release are a variety of GPU-accelerated nodes for NukeX, including MotionBlur, Kronos, Denoise, VectorGenerator, Convolve, and ZDefocus. This fundamental change will allow users to take advantage of the power of their GPUs to speed up interactive image processing times. When the GPU is available, NukeX will now take full advantage of that power. If it’s unavailable, the software reverts back to the CPU without any need to adjust settings.

Version 7.0 also brings with it a number of options that allow artists to do more within the tool. Users are now able to perform lighting tasks in a comp using the ReLight node and model using NukeX’s new ModelBuilder. Both of these additions reduce the need for artists to jump in and out of other programs or hand work off to other departments. Also, the roto tools in Nuke have been redefined to enhance performance and improve stereo support, giving artists more control than before. Support for new camera raw formats has been added, including Alexa ArriRaw and the latest R3D SDK. Nuke 7.0 includes Primatte 5 and a brand-new 2D tracker, with big updates to the workflow and speed. The SplineWarp node and Dope Sheet have also benefited from major improvements.

NukeX features the core Nuke tool set, complemented with a range of exclusive tools. Additional NukeX features include GPU-accelerated nodes, 3D camera tracker, modeling and point cloud generation, as well as the FurnaceCore plug-in set.

Real-Time Mocap Arrives with Vicon Blade 2

Vicon has officially released Blade 2, powered by Axiom, following a successful alpha program with studios around the globe.

Blade 2 motion-capture processing software delivers compelling real-time results out of the box. Two years in development, Blade has been completely re-engineered with a new live engine called Axiom, which faithfully reproduces a live stage-captured performance with an accurate, fast, clean, real-time digital visualization. Blade 2 is capable of managing the capture of multiple characters, complex production scenarios, and difficult shooting conditions. Significant occlusion and complex motions are handled easily with no loss of fidelity or subtlety of motion.

HP Adds to Its Offerings

HP has revealed new workstation- class offerings for professionals, including an update to its HP Performance Advisor software and the new HP ZR2330w Performance Display.

Updated to take a holistic approach to system monitoring, HP Performance Advisor 1.5 provides greater performance across all applications used on a workstation. The new version monitors the computer as a whole versus looking at just specific applications. Performance Advisor notifies users when components, such as memory, are not being used properly and offers suggestions to quickly improve the performance. Version 1.5 now provides support for HP Remote Graphics Software (RGS) and Microsoft Windows 8. Users can also access information on GPU performance and temperature. HP Performance Advisor 1.5 comes pre-loaded on HP Z and Elite- Book Mobile Workstations.

The new HP ZR2330w Performance Display is a 23-inch LED backlit display with an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. IPS technology delivers brilliant and accurate color from almost any angle, providing 10 times higher contrast ratios when viewed at an angle compared to mainstream twisted nematic displays. The ZR2330w delivers up to 16.7 million on-screen colors, offers full HD resolutions, and features VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort inputs. The HP ZR2330w Performance Display is available for $259.

GPU Market Holding Steady Overall

Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry’s research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, revealed figures for the estimated graphics chip shipments and suppliers’ market share for the third quarter of 2012.

The news was terrific for Nvidia and disappointing for every one of the other major players. From Q2 to Q3, Intel slipped in both desktop (7%) and notebook (8.6%). AMD dropped (2%) in desktop and (17%) in notebooks. Nvidia gained 28.3% in desktop from quarter to quarter and jumped almost 12% in the notebook segment.

This was a not a very good quarter as the shipments were down -1.45% on a quarter-to-quarter basis, and -10.8% on a year-to-year basis. JPR found that graphics shipments during Q3 slipped from last quarter -1.5% compared to PCs, which grew slightly by 0.9% overall (however, more GPUs shipped than PCs due to double attach).

The turmoil in the PC market has caused JPR to modify its forecast since the last report; it is less aggressive on both desktops and notebooks. The popularity of tablets and the persistent recession are the contributing factors that have altered the nature of the PC market. Nonetheless, the CAGR for PC graphics from 2011 to 2016 is 3.6%, and JPR expects the total shipments of graphics chips in 2016 to be 608 million units.

The 10-year average change for this quarter is a growth of 7.9%. This quarter is below the average with a 4.6% decrease.

JPR’s findings include discrete and integrated graphics (CPU and chipset) for desktops, notebooks (and netbooks), and PC-based commercial (POS), industrial/scientific, and embedded. This report does not include handhelds (mobile phones), x86 servers, or ARM-based tablets (iPad and Android-based tablets), smartbooks, or ARM-based servers. It does include x86-based tablets.

The Quarter in General

AMD’s quarter-to-quarter total shipments of desktop heterogeneous GPU/CPUs (APUs) dropped 30% from Q2 and 4.7% in notebooks. The company’s overall PC graphics shipments slipped 10.7%.

Intel’s quarter-to-quarter desktop processor-graphics EPG shipments dropped from last quarter by 7%, and notebooks fell by 8.6%. The company’s overall PC graphics shipments dropped 8%.

Nvidia’s quarter-to-quarter desktop discrete shipments jumped 28.3% from last quarter; and, the company’s mobile discrete shipments were up 12%, which is impressive in a down market. The company’s overall PC graphics shipments increased 19.6%.

Year-to-year figures this quarter, AMD shipments declined 20%, Intel dropped 14%, Nvidia slipped 0.5%, and VIA fell 10% from last year.

Total discrete GPUs (desktop and notebook) increased a modest 4.6% from the last quarter and were down 5.2% from last year for the same quarter due to the same problems plaguing the overall PC industry. Overall, the trend for discrete GPUs is up with a CAGR to 2016 of 2.6%.

Ninety-nine percent of Intel’s non-server processors have graphics, and over 67% of AMD’s non-server processors contain integrated graphics; AMD still ships IGPs.

Year to year for the quarter, the graphics market decreased. Shipments were down 20 million units from this quarter last year.

Market shares shifted for the big three and put pressure on the smaller two market shares in shipments. AMD saw a change of -7.7% in total graphics market share from last year, and -1.5% quarter to quarter. Intel’s market share increased 0.9% from last year, and -2.4% from last quarter. Nvidia showed an increase in market share of almost 15% in overall market share from last year, rising to 19% from 16% last year.

Graphics chips (GPUs) and chips with graphics (IGPs, APUs, and EPGs) are a leading indicator for the PC market. At least one and often two GPUs are present in every PC shipped. It can take the form of a discrete chip, a GPU integrated in the chipset or embedded in the CPU. The average has grown from 1.2 GPUs per PC in 2001 to almost 1.4 GPUs per PC.

The Q3 2012 edition of Jon Peddie Research’s “Market Watch” is available now in both electronic and hard copy editions, and sells for $2,500.

Where There’s Smoke 2013…

Autodesk recently began rolling out Smoke 2013, the latest version of the company’s professional video editing software.

Smoke 2013 is designed to meet the needs of professional editors working in video production, corporate video, online video, and other competitive creative environments where productions require editing and effects. The new Smoke offers editing and effects within a single, effi cient timeline-based workfl ow and a sleek user interface; it runs on a wide variety of Apple MacBook Pro and Apple iMac computers. Extensive customer research and feedback received during the pre-release trial actively helped drive the product development. New features, which grew directly out of user recommendations, include: the ability to drag and drop a clip from the source player into the timeline, the ability to expand/collapse the timeline FX pipeline area, and the redesign and streamlining of the UI and interface elements to speed up workflows.

Autodesk revamped Smoke to address a growing niche for editors who need to do more than just edit. In a recent survey of over 300 active users of the trial download, over half of which were new to Smoke, many respondents called out the benefi ts of having an all-in-one package that integrates editing and effects.

Autodesk Smoke 2013 is priced at $3,495 per license.

Eyeon Offers Generation AM

Eyeon Software recently released its Generation visual effects and postproduction workfl ow management system, now referred to as Generation AM.

With a global push for higher effi ciencies, studios need to accelerate creativity while mastering the recurring demands of production. Generation AM provides the essential tools to organize the entire team, automate tasks and deliverables, and sustain precise communication. This transparent collaboration supports up-to-the-minute details of jobs, talent, and deadlines. Designed with a scripting engine from the ground up, Generation AM is a fl exible and customizable visual front-end to any studio’s pipeline.

Generation AM can run both Lua and Python scripts to match any facility’s environment. Users can control everything remotely via script, and since all the metadata is stored as XML, all implementations, from adding comments to modifying entire projects, can be done from within other applications as well.

Generation AM sells $995.

Animation Mentor Builds Distributed Pipeline

Animation Mentor, an online animation and VFX school, has unveiled the AMP fully distributed studio production pipeline. The pipeline is a key element in the addition of the school’s new VFX curriculum and restructured animation program. Starting with the Spring 2013 term, Animation Mentor students will train on this professional production pipeline. The AMP pipeline is a professional-grade distributed asset and shot management tool that allows students to collaborate with other Animation Mentor students around the globe to produce fi nished fi lms and sequences under the direction of their mentor. The education takes place on the school’s Studio Learning Platform, a series of proprietary tools that work together to provide students with the real experience of working on a studio production.