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 stereoscopic productions.

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 Shop

IRIDAS: What were your first impressions of FrameCycler DDS Bichannel?

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 program?

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 tool!

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 impressed!

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.

Steve poses with familiar face


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Copyright (c) 2003 by IRIDAS Digital Interaction Design - IRIDAS and FrameCycler are registered trademarks of IRIDAS, Germany - All rights reserved.