Nozon June 1, 2015 In the PresenZ Nozon is a Belgian post facility delivering high quality visual effects, 3D animation and fully immersive 360° CG movies. Earlier this year, they introduced PresenZ, a revolutionary technology for immersive movies that was built in part with Fabric Engine. We spoke with Nozon lighting supervisor and pipeline TD Gaël Honorez to find out how Fabric Engine is helping them deliver the image quality of sci-fi blockbusters together with the immersive feeling of a real-time game engine. What was the opportunity or production challenge that resulted in PresenZ? About a year ago, we bought an Oculus DK1 to see what all the fuss was about. It was so amazing that we immediately tried to see how we could use it in our line of work. We quickly came up with a first prototype using a two stereoscopic spherical render. But then the DK2 was here, and being able to track head movements was, for us, mandatory for a good VR experience. Tristan Salomé is the head of research and development at Nozon. He was the one initiating our VR program. Tristan realized a year ago that the new generation of head-mounted displays would bring real immersion if the quality of the content could match the quality of the hardware. We then started to research how to make this high quality content and how to use our skills for making high-end VR movies. As no solution exists to render and replay parallax movies, we tried to make our own. PresenZ allows us to do something that didn’t exist before, and that is still unique. Not only did we have to find how to make it possible but every step, from the rendering plugins to viewing our image sequences in the Rift, was built from scratch. With virtual reality in general, everything needs to be (re-)invented. Every step is a challenge. How are you using Fabric Engine? We are using Fabric Engine for layout and camera placements (through Alembic & Oculus support) and also as part of our tool pipeline. Fabric Engine allows us to prototype and test new ideas very fast. We also used it a lot for debugging our software. We often had weird (but sometimes interesting) bugs in the Rift that were clear once we ran them through our debugging suite in Fabric Engine. Further down the road, Fabric Engine will certainly be the main block around the first VR compositing tool ever created. We can now render in VR everything we want. Instead of having a 360° movie from a single point of view, we have an infinite amount of point of view inside a zone of view. Just doing our tech demo scene showed us all the new possibilities it can bring in terms of storytelling. Not only do you feel in the scene next to the ‘actors’ but you can also play with hidden elements, ‘asking’ the viewer to move around. We are also using our own file format. Instead of developing a whole new set of tools, all we had to do was to write a Fabric Extension IO for it. We can now manipulate the ‘images’ quite easily. And of course, the Fabric Engine Rift and Alembic extensions allow us to do layouts directly in VR. What made you look at Fabric Engine? Fabric Engine is built for VFX, with a fast developing environment like Python but with the power of C++. And Cuda support. That was a no-brainer. What were the alternatives you considered? The only other alternative was to build everything ourselves as there wasn’t an alternative for the kind of things done with PresenZ. The only comparison is development time, and it saves us days if not weeks. How do you expect to use Fabric in future? For PresenZ, the next step is to develop compositing/file manipulation tools that are artist friendly, using Fabric Engine as … the engine. Further down the road, Fabric Engine will certainly be the main block around the first VR compositing tool ever created. Find out more about using Fabric Engine for virtual reality. Go to the Nozon website for more information about PresenZ.