Intel and Cinesite collaborate to enhance visual storytelling: The Addams Family 2

Intel Open Image Denoise helped in creating high-fidelity, photorealistic visuals for the movie.

Cinesite wanted the movie The Addams Family 2 to be bigger and better than its first part. The digital entertainment studio thus partnered with Intel to create amazing and creative visuals to justify the backdrops and depict the adventures of Addams family in the movie. Cinesite used Intel oneAPI software development tools—Intel Open Image Denoise—running on Intel-based platforms to get improved renderings by denoising the animation visuals. The Intel oneAPI Rendering Toolkit is a set of highly optimized software libraries that enable efficient, high-quality rendering for data of virtually any size.

(Source: Cinesite)

Hank Driskill of Cinesite says that visual quality has significantly improved in The Addams Family 2 as compared to the first The Addams Family. While Intel Open Image Denoise is a major contributor here, software like Gaffer and Autodesk Arnold were also used. Gaffer was used for “look” development, lighting, and rendering. Autodesk Arnold helped with ray tracing of exterior elements of 3D world and delivered excellent results for shadow casting, reflections, and refractions. Intel Open Image Denoise has been integrated into the latest Arnold’s 7.0 release, hence adding on to the rendering capabilities of Arnold. The machine learning algorithms and deep-learning-based denoising filters in Intel Open Image Denoise helped in creating high-fidelity, photorealistic visuals for the movie.

Intel’s press release is as follows:

Intel Denoiser Brings The Addams Family 2 to Life

Cinesite implemented Intel oneAPI tools to elevate visual effects and animation in The Addams Family 2.

Cinesite, a visual effects (VFX), animation and digital entertainment studio, collaborated with Intel on the newly released The Addams Family 2 movie to take visual effects and animation to new levels of brilliance and photorealism. The animated feature was built on a foundation of Intel Xeon Scalable processors with built-in Intel Deep Learning Boost technology in Cinesite’s render farm and optimized by Intel oneAPI tools—namely Intel Open Image Denoise, an AI-accelerated denoiser for superior visual quality (part of the Intel oneAPI Rendering Toolkit).

“When we set out to make The Addams Family 2, we wanted it to be bigger, better and more fun than the first movie. To achieve that, we needed advanced tools and technology for our artists to create the ground-breaking, beautiful visuals to accompany our story. We were so fortunate to partner with Intel on this and get our artists everything they needed to achieve the work we wanted for the movie.”

–Laura Brousseau, Cinesite co-director of The Addams Family 2

Why It Matters: For The Addams Family 2, Cinesite used a complementary combination of Intel oneAPI software development tools running on Intel-based platforms to gain up to 25% rendering efficiency,1 saving thousands of hours in rendering production time and helping the studio stay ahead of deadlines with increased scope, scale and massive rendering demands.

“Battling noise in renders often creates an extreme amount of work that lands on the already burdened shoulders of effects artists and lighters,” said Hank Driskill, Cinesite’s head of CG for Feature Animation.

Image noise introduces non-desirable elements to animation visuals, including specks, granularity, or variations in light, color and shadow, making for a less visually appealing film. Image noise also affects production time, quality and budget.

“In production, anything you can do to optimize the process is a win for movie quality. If you can do denoising and cut off the render footprint earlier, that means the rendering takes less time. This in turn gives the artists more time to iterate on improving image quality in fewer calendar days,” said Driskill.

How It Works: Intel Open Image Denoise removes noise from the imagery with its collection of machine-learning algorithms and efficient deep-learning denoising filters, which are trained to handle a wide range of samples per pixel. It distinguishes an image’s “good stuff” such as geometric shapes, textural detail and patterns, from render and pixel noise to clear away the latter.

Rendering tools used for the production of The Addams Family 2 included:

  • Gaffer, an open source, node-based VFX software for “look” development, lighting and rendering.
  • Autodesk Arnold, which has recently integrated Intel Open Image Denoise, and does the heavy lifting of ray tracing and rendering to deliver the elegantly styled 3D world.
  • Intel Open Image Denoise to denoise every frame of the movie.

By using Intel’s oneAPI tools, Cinesite was able to significantly reduce the rendering time on every frame, creating more high-quality scenes in the process. Artists were no longer spending additional hours on troubleshooting samples, adjusting render quality or resubmitting renderers, but instead were able to refocus their efforts on the more creative aspects of moviemaking: developing more intricate and compelling visuals.

The Small Print:

1 Testing Date: Results are based on data conducted by Cinesite 2020-21. 10% to up to 25% rendering efficiency/thousands of hours saved in rendering production time/15 hrs per frame per shot to 12-13 hrs. Cinesite Configuration: 18-core Intel Xeon Scalable processors (W-2295) used in render farm, 2nd gen Intel Xeon processor-based workstations (W-2135 and -2195) used. Rendering tools: Gaffer, Arnold, along with optimizations by Intel Open Image Denoise.

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