Crash Course on RNDR
Six fundamental excerpts from Jules Urbach’s talk at NVIDIA GTC that sum up RNDR, the raytracing industry’s ABCs, and our commitment to the growing of the path to holographic media and publishing.
NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) gathers a wide range of professionals to discuss how GPU developments help to address the world’s graphic and computational challenges. In 2018, our very own Jules Urbach, CEO at OTOY and RNDR, joined in once again as a speaker sharing his experience as a pioneer in the field of computer graphics, streaming, and 3D rendering. This time, RNDR made its debut at the conference.
Jules’s presentation is a great way to understand the underlying mission behind OTOY and RNDR, containing insightful information for content creators, producers, technology enthusiasts, and the wider public. While you can check out his talk in full on the event’s website, we have decided to break down the six fundamental excerpts for you.
Feel free to jump ahead to the parts that most interest you:
- Mission & Future Vision
- Holographic Workflow: Capture
- Holographic Workflow: Render
- Holographic Workflow: Stream
- Capture + Render + Stream = RNDR
- Towards an Open Metaverse
1. OTOY’s Mission & Future Vision
So what’s ray tracing?
Ray tracing is a rendering technique that can produce incredibly realistic lighting effects compared to other rendering methods such as rasterization and ray casting. If you are new to computer graphics and you are interested in knowing about how the magic behind rendering works, we recommend watching this video.
How does Jules see the rendering pipeline in the next decade? A lot like magic. Here are the two main features:
In the context of CGI, the word ‘photorealistic’ is used to explain that the images accomplished are of such high quality, they can be mistaken for actual photos. Since it was invented decades ago, ray tracing has been the holy grail for rendering realistically. By tracing individual light rays as they bounce off multiple surfaces, it can faithfully recreate reflections, sub-surface scattering, translucency, and other nuances that help make a scene compelling. Currently, these tools are expensive, and that bars the access of many creatives out there.
Jules sees a future in which this technology will be “commoditized”. That is: the tools needed to achieve photorealistic images will be democratized and made accessible for more independent content creators. But the democratization will not only be a monetary one. Jules marked the tendency for these tools to become more and more intuitive, which will aid more creators in easily understanding them. Some examples that have already been developed are Tilt Brush and Quill.
Everything is going to be real-time
Up to now, ray tracing was commonly used in feature films, but the large amount of processing time needed had kept it away from real-time applications like gaming. Jules points out the shift in the gaming industry with platforms such as Unity as a clear example of how high quality graphics are going to be rendered instantly in real-time.
In this context, RNDR will be OTOY’s software stack and ecosystem and aims to accomplish the company’s mission of “democratizing what we think are going to be the tools and the services that are hard but important for the next few years.”
2. OTOY’s Holographic Workflow: Capture
LightStage™ is OTOY’s cutting-edge scanning technology that enables the digital 3D capture of human faces with unparalleled fidelity and scientific accuracy. This tool allows the capture of a subject’s skin from many different lighting directions, faithfully reproducing the color, texture, shine, shading, and translucency for creators to freely customize post-production. For over a decade, LightStage™ has been the go-to for blockbuster films and AAA game titles alike ( Behind the Magic- Creating The Hulk for -The Avengers). Capturing reality live is really the next stage.
3. OTOY’s Holographic Workflow: Render
Here Jules deep dives into the stack that comprises the different “Render” verticals that include the following services:
- Brigade Engine
- OctaneRender Cloud (ORC)
- Light Fields
Ten years ago, Jules Urbach realized that CPU processing speed was moving too slow for rendering. He founded OTOY, unsure at the beginning about whether GPU rendering was going to be production ready: it was. OTOY started to offer rendering services that are 40 times faster than CPU rendering through OctaneRender.
OctaneRender® is the world’s first and fastest GPU-accelerated, unbiased, physically correct renderer.
Since its launch in 2012, OctaneRender has shown millions of users what GPU rendering can do. Every 2 years the software has a major release: with the first version targeting still images/architecture rendering to the fourth and newest version aiming at real time cinematic rendering (2018), OctaneRender has become a growing phenomena in the rendering industry.
To learn more about render engines, you can watch the following video.
Octane and Unity
In order to increase the scope and reach of its holographic workflow, OTOY has developed partnerships with leaders in the graphics industry, transforming the way high-end immersive media is produced and distributed — adding new levels of speed, photorealism, and economic efficiency. Recent advancements include the integration of OTOY’s OctaneRender cinematic rendering pipeline natively within Unity3D, the world’s leading game engine, home to over 7-million developers.
OTOY also developed Brigade™ Engine: a real-time rendering engine for video games. It uses path tracing to render images as opposed to rasterization, like most other 3D game rendering engines, to deliver better results in terms of image quality. Octane 4 was merged with Brigade, making it even faster with the addition of amazing cinematic tools. You can watch Brigade in action in the following video.
OctaneRender Cloud (ORC)
The next milestone was cloud rendering through OctaneRender Cloud (ORC) which allowed users to access remote GPU power to everyone, from “artists, designers, engineers, and small businesses everywhere who might not otherwise have the means to access powerful rack-based rendering solutions”. It’s secure, fast and an overall huge step towards the democratization of rendering services.
Holographic virtual reality has been part of popular culture ever since Gene Roddenberry introduced the Holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Holographic video, or holographic light field rendering as it’s technically known, produces stunningly realistic images that can be viewed from any vantage point.
OTOY has been working on pre-computing features to make perfect fidelity content as easy as possible until the industry gets to completely real-time holographic rendering. Because of its computational complexity, commercial holographic video and VFX have not been commercially viable until OTOY’s light field GPU technology made it possible through OTOY’s OctaneRender software.
4. OTOY’s Holographic Workflow: Stream
In this section, Jules talks about OTOY’s partnership with Facebook, to co-develop the cloud-processing and media playback pipeline for the new X-24 and X-6 Volumetric cameras that will be manufactured by RED Digital. The pipeline uses OTOY’s OctaneRender Cloud (ORC) and the ORBX file format/media player to process the camera's depth data sets. That’s precisely where streaming comes in: 360 videos or 6DOF are dropped into the newsfeed through our services.
By leveraging OTOY’s technology infrastructure, the X-24 and X-6 are the first affordable, production ready 6-DOF [six-degrees-of-freedom] virtual reality cameras, allowing filmmakers to create live action immersive experiences for the first time.
5. Capture + Render + Stream = RNDR
We are at the forefront of a technological transformation that concerns the very way in which we see reality. Affecting disciplines from computation to physics. Everything is becoming more virtual, from huge digital media growth at the fingertips of billions of people, to engineers producing new realities, augmented and virtual, that allow us to immerse ourselves in new computer-generated worlds.
The rendering demand that comes with these technologies requires a lot more GPU power than is currently available in the cloud. For independent artists producing VR and AR, local GPU render farms are prohibitively expensive and impractical. But even the largest Hollywood VFX studios and tech companies, who have the budget and infrastructure for private render farms, are struggling to meet the demand for processing power.
Centralized data centers can’t expand to leverage this revolution with competitive prices.
Just picture a world where high quality rendering is fulfilled simply and quickly in a secure blockchain based peer-to-peer GPU network. That’s RNDR.
A big part of what OTOY has been up to for the last year was introducing a blockchain based token called Render Token.
As Jules states: “the idea of RNDR was that if we can turn all of those GPU mining cards that are out there — and there’s a lot, I mean, there are millions — into nodes that could fulfill work when we ran out of nodes on Amazon, those people that are running those nodes will actually make more money than they would mining Ethereum; and that actually got a lot of people excited, including us, because if we do get that kind of capacity, finally we can start to really seriously offer through our stack jobs that are going to be important for the 2020s.”
RNDR as the bigger picture of OTOY’s Holographic Workflow
Historically, OTOY has focused on all the three parts of the Holographics Pipeline: Capture (Lightstage), Render (Octane) and Stream (ORBX). But this year is the first time that they’re not going to be conceived as three different companies or initiatives because they are joining forces. In Mixed Reality (MR) there is only one service: when you have a device that’s blending the real world with rendered content and then share it with the rest of the world, you’re capturing, rendering and streaming at the same time.
RNDR is the bigger picture, the umbrella for all of these parts. It’s OTOY’s future framework for both internal and external development:
RNDR = Capture (Light Stage) + Render (Octane) + Stream (ORBX)
All of OTOY’s software and services, including Octane, will be migrating to the RNDR SDK. This means RNDR will replace cloud services such as ORC and LiveDB (asset library) within 2018, in a yet unspecified release.
The growing GPU demand will be supplied by miners and members of the RNDR community that will put their GPUs to work for the network.
The Ultimate Vision: A Photon Driven Economy
RNDR is here to update the distribution, collaboration and monetization processes involved in rendering. Protecting digital assets or proving infringements of copyright and trademark laws is really complicated.
Current Digital Rights Management (DRM) has proved faulty: with high transaction costs and lack of efficiency when it comes to the necessary exchanges, producers forgo production of holographic content and the adoption among consumers is slowed down.
Blockchain’s promise to content creators has three main aspects: Rights Protection, Monetization and Bringing Power Back to Individuals. From Phase IV onwards, OTOY envisions Render Token as a foundation for monetizing authorship in a marketplace where virtual creations and ideas are exchanged based on creative value added on top of a base “manufacturing” cost (rendering expenses). The speed, safety and reliability OTOY aims at for the Render network will surely redefine collaborative artistic processes.
With RNDR, we already have a lot of information in the RNDR jobs themselves, we know who’s creating what and we actually track every asset. We’ve reached the point where we can start to add layers. As Jules puts it: “it’s amazing to sort of think of what having an immutable ledger can do when you get into publishing as well as the more immediate things that we’re solving through actually doing real work.”
A big part of RNDR’s Phase IV is going to be real-time. We’re working with the idea of a day where streaming and rendering will be one and the same. This will be key for holographic displays and shared Metaverses. The true value of the blockchain system could be hashing scene graphs and rendering to share, not just hashing numbers as it is usually thought of. A big part of making this work is not just putting out tools and services but also having an SDK that lets others build on the core pieces that we’re already launching ourselves.
6. Towards an Open Metaverse
In this video, Jules talks about the ultimate dream behind RNDR. Learn all about OTOY’s contribution of the ORBX format to MPEG and its continued efforts to change the way in which key players think of light field standards and volumetric standards to get to a world without siloed protocols that act as barriers to the creative process.
With more and more concern in terms of the handling of private information, we firmly believe there should be an open Metaverse that isn’t controlled by a single entity, but protected by the blockchain instead.
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