Psyop Part 1

December 6, 2015

Hair of the Dog

The team at Psyop prides itself in providing innovative solutions for clients, solving their business and marketing problems by telling compelling stories and building engaging worlds. With studios in New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver, Psyop offers a combination of skills across animation, design, illustration, 3D, 2D and live action production. We spoke with Psyop Chief Technology Officer Jean-François Panisset to find out what role Fabric Engine is playing in their success.

hairlines-drawing-psyop

Drawing Tangent Grid – Debugging using Inline Drawing, in this case drawing a grid of tangents to the viewport.

Jean-François Panisset, Psyop

Jean-François Panisset

What is your role at Psyop?

My role as Chief Technology Officer is to oversee the technical infrastructure of the company and to provide our artists with an environment that allows them to do their work without having to worry about technology hurdles.

What prompted you to adopt Fabric Engine? What was the problem or challenge you were trying to solve?

The complexity of the projects we are working on keeps increasing and is outpacing the ability of standard DCC tools to handle in a brute force way. Larger studios have developed complex and powerful software frameworks allowing them to tackle these projects: industry standard tools remain the front end providing artists with a powerful and familiar interface, but proceduralism, instancing, asset management are handled behind the scene by in house tools. Fabric Engine gives us a powerful platform that allows us to build these types of tools without having to start from scratch: we get a shortcut to what would have taken many man years of development time.

How are you using Fabric? What impact has it had?

We are still at the experimental phase, and our initial uses of Fabric are driven by specific project requirements. But from the start we knew that we wanted to invest in Fabric as a facility-wide resource, we don’t want to have to decide whether a tool is important enough to justify using a license. We are in the process of deploying a framework to extend the availability of Fabric Engine from our software development group to our TDs, and we’re looking forward to seeing the creative uses they can make out of it.

An initial success has been using Fabric to develop a custom hair simulation system, which has already been used in production. We are planning to further enhance this tool to take advantage of the new visual programming environment to provide a node-based graph allowing our artists to reconfigure the system to suit the needs of the project they are working on.

hairlines-weightmap-psyop

Weightmap – Painting weight maps to mask off certain portions of the hair, using Fabric Engine manipulation. This instance is a root-to-tip weight map, so painting weight onto the underlying mesh will select portions of hairs, either starting from the root or the tip.

What were the alternatives you considered?

The main alternative would have been in-house software development, and we do not have the time or resources to “start from scratch”. There are also some open source projects that provide some of the components you need, but with Fabric we get direct access to the support and development team at Fabric Engine.

How do you expect to use Fabric in future?

We are hoping to be surprised! Our main goals for now are to accelerate proprietary tools while taking advantage of parallelism and GPU acceleration as well as portability between DCCs, and provide a robust framework for large scale scene assembly and procedural geometry generation.

Jonah Friedman, Psyop

Jonah Friedman

Is there anyone else on your team you’d like to mention?

Jonah Friedman has been doing so far most of the work on Fabric Engine at Psyop. He has been closely collaborating with the Fabric team. His background as an advanced Softimage ICE user puts him in a unique position to appreciate how Fabric Engine is developing as a platform and DCC-independent visual programming environment.