IRIDAS Products at Jim Henson's Creature Shop
IRIDAS customer Jim Henson's Creature Shop
uses FrameCycler DDS Bichannel to review content for large format format
Jim Henson's Steve McPherson has been working closely with IRIDAS to
test pre-release versions of FrameCycler 3D and DDS Bichannel
About Jim Henson's Creature Shop
Academy Award-winning Jim Henson's Creature Shop is
one of the pre-eminent character-building visual effects facilities
serving the international film, television, and advertising industries,
with a reputation for creating memorable and moving film stars.
Located in London, Los Angeles and New York, with a subsidiary workshop in
Australia, The Shop has worldwide capabilities.
Steve McPherson began his
career in computing in the early 80's doing systems administration on Cray
Research supercomputers for such customers as NASA Ames Research Center,
Lockheed, and Apple Advanced Development. At that time systems like these
cost between $20 and $30 million. When Silicon Graphics came onto the
scene in the late 80's, Steve recognized an opportunity to move toward VFX
work. By then the cost of a single seat (hardware and one Alias license)
had dropped to around $100,000. In 1996 Steve moved his base of operations
to England where he helped found the first Silicon Studio training center
in the Europe.
Today, Steve is working with Jim Henson's Creature Shop as Systems
Architect on major large-format 3D projects.
Jim Henson's Creature Shop first became aware of FrameCycler playback
solutions early in the fall of 2002. Steve approached IRIDAS to see if
they would consider building a direct-from-disk high resolution
stereoscopic player for the Sesame Street project. IRIDAS said they would
and the collaboration began.
Within weeks Steve was performance testing beta versions of the product
and was immediately impressed. "Lin was brilliant, supportive, and his
team was swift on fixes. At times it felt we were really pushing
FrameCycler DDS Bi-Channel into unknown territory"
By November, 2003, the FrameCycler was officially in operation in the Creature
IRIDAS: What were your first impressions of FrameCycler DDS
MacPherson: We found the GUI very straightforward. It took about 5
minutes to show someone how to operate the program and it was easy to
integrate it into our workflow. Within days individual operators were
assembling their own material from freshly rendered frames for preview.
The FrameCycler workstation quickly became the preview station for all our
compositing team members.
IRIDAS: What have you discovered since you started using the
MacPherson: Well, I wouldn't call it a "discovery," but we soon
came to see it as a vital quality assurance tool. It evolved to the point
that our operators wouldn't trust their renders until they had checked it
at the preview station. In terms of our workflow, this has helped our
artists meeting quick deadlines. We were able to quickly pull the images
to the FrameCycler and play them back in 1K stereo. Everyone loves this
IRIDAS: What did you do before you had FrameCycler?
MacPherson: Well, we had limited playback
options in our other applications such as Maya, Shake, or we used an old
Illusion seat that we had kicking around. Otherwise we had to convert our
renders to lower-res formats so that we could do playback of longer shots.
But there we encountered other issues
What we are doing now, high-res
stereoscopic playback of Cineon or SGI files direct-from-disk just
couldn't be done before.
IRIDAS: Such as playing longer sequences?
MacPherson: Yes, our current project is a large format 3D Sesame
Street presentation with some verrrrry long shots! All in all, being able
to review material in stereo film resolution at 30fps on high-end
commodity hardware has been a lifesaver.
IRIDAS: Do you have any good FrameCycler stories to tell us?
MacPherson: Well, I can tell you that it has become the first destination
whenever we have tour of the facility. Everyone who comes through here,
clients and prospects visits the FrameCycler DDS Bichannel preview station. And they're always
IRIDAS: Do you enjoy your work?
MacPherson: I love it!
IRIDAS: What do you love about it?
MacPherson: I work with brilliant people. I feel very fortunate to
be part of this industry. There is always something new and exciting to
make the next day at work worth looking forward to.
with familiar face
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