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The future of film

by Adrian Pennington on Jul 16, 2017

Nick Lazaridis delivered HP’s mission statement and emphasised the company’s commitment to helping filmmakers use of the latest digital technology to create great content.
Nick Lazaridis delivered HP’s mission statement and emphasised the company’s commitment to helping filmmakers use of the latest digital technology to create great content.

“Roughly 50% of materials and devices in the world are designed on a HP work station,” claimed HP president personal systems, Ron Coughlin. “That’s why our motto is ‘keep reinventing’.”

HP’s EMEA director Nick Lazaridis candidly admitted that gaining visibility was the principal reason to have a presence at Cannes – but then that’s why everyone else comes here.

Its technology is onboard the International Space Station, Studio Liebeskind used its workstations to architect the Freedom Tower in New York and HP claims to be the number one computer provider for education around the world.

It launched the Sprout which chimes with its idea of blended reality. Combining a scanner, depth sensor, hi-resolution camera and projector into a single device, Sprout allows users to take physical items and merge them into a digital workspace. The system also delivers a collaboration platform, allowing users in multiple locations to collaborate on and manipulate a single piece of digital content in real-time.

The firm is also one of a number of companies making mixed reality headsets for Microsoft with Windows as the operating system.

Dreamworks VR tool

Dreamworks views VR as a production tool just now rather than a content media. “It used to be that storyboards were the only way we could vizualise films,” says Kate Swanborg, head of technology communications and strategic alliances, DreamWorks Animation. “Now we are using multiple different techniques including motion capture and VR – living storyboards – which allow directors to iterate in a 3D space.”

More prosaically, like other animation houses Dreamworks masters its films for distribution in 2K simply because doing so in 4K is still too expensive.

“Unlike live action, every single pixel is digitally rendered and there’s no real way to upscale it. It’s a huge time and money expense and it’s not clear we can could recoup the ROI on that.”

For just one feature animation, Dreamworks creates 350 TB of data which is managed on HP workstations souped up with multi-cores and Nvidia Quadra graphics processors and DreamColor displays. To highlight the challenge,  takes 80 million CPU hours to render one film which comprises half a billion files or 25 billion pixels. That doesn’t include archives.

As much as Dreamworks’ films are essentially data, each production team also physically prints every single asset including characters, environments and storyboard. “We pin them on the walls of our studio so that artists can immerse themselves in the tactile images,” she said. “That’s part of our process to determine if a scene is working.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another key area of interest for the future of film. Mulani suggested that AI would be used in Hollywood to read scripts. “AI will read, doctor and polish scripts. When AI becomes as powerful or more powerful than the human brain it will be able to analyse a script within minutes and give you ten different analysis of where it could be altered,” Mulani says.


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