MENU

Development of film special effects system

Develop and offer for sale a system that produces high
productivity digital special effects for cinema film use.

Ten years ago THE COMPUTER FILM COMPANY (CFC) developed the first computerised system for "manipulating" film images which had been scanned into digital computer files. This was done with the company's own hardware and software and during the past decade CFC has built up an enormous amount of experience, with over 100 film productions. CFC learnt the hard way how to make convincing and believable effects (for example a motion blur that looked "real" and not "painted on"). CFC's algorithms are acknowledged to be among the best in the world and hence Mike Boudry, founder of THE COMPUTER FILM COMPANY, has been awarded two Oscars! Computer systems changed during the ten year period. CFC joined the rest of the industry with SGI (Silicon Graphics Incorporated) hardware and Kodak Cineon software. The company has found this to be substantially slower than its own "home built" system, nor does it contain the quality of effect developed by CFC. It is, however, a very solid platform to build on. The Cineon system consists of a "client/server" architecture, of a large (Onyx) computer which looks after the film resolution (3000 x 4000) files and does the large scale number crunching. The special effects operator sits in front of a terminal (usually an SGI Indigo II computer) with only the monitor sized (1000 x 1000) files, where he tries out special effects on sequences of film until it looks right. He does not know how much effect (such as motion blur) is needed until he sees it. Thus this stage is reiterative and time consuming as the SGI platforms, although highly regarded, are appallingly slow for users who come from the "video real time grading" world. Consequently, the project consists of the following steps: 1. To add a commercially available accelerator card to the SGI terminal and to microcode into it a series of the CFC proprietary algorithms. This will give the "CFC Quality" of effect at typically ten times the speed of the SGI/Cineon low quality effects. The system will become much more interactive, the operator will be able to experiment with more "what ifs" and still produce increased footage of better quality than prior to the project. The benefits will be enormous, including keeping London (and the British) the world leader in special effects. 2. Under point 1 we will be able to produce terminal resolution files better and more quickly, but we need also to improve substantially the file server's ability to process film resolution frames which will be output onto new cinema film. This will be best done by modifying the HD-DCP architecture from PANDORA's previous EUREKA project. This processor is capable of running ten times faster than the SGI Onyx. However, the hardware has to be taught the CFC algorithms and interfaced into the CFC software (HTC will advise on this).
Acronym: 
FILM SPECIAL EFFECTS
Project ID: 
1 683
Start date: 
01-01-1997
Project Duration: 
14months
Project costs: 
1 100 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.