Using Real-Time Ray Tracing for Creating a Digital Human

    Cream, a television production company that’s gotten into VR the past few years, is pushing the needle on what we’ve come to expect from VR.

    While working on projects like A Curious Mind with Dominic Monaghan, winner of a  CanadianScreen Award, Cream has relied on real-time editing of its 3D virtual environments to get the complicated work that they do done. With any project this big, creators need to have the speed and accuracy that real-time editing enables.

    Why real-time editing so important

    Imagine this: you’ve worked for days on a project and you’re on track to meet the deadline. However, you can’t see if you’ve modeled it correctly until you render it. It takes a couple of days to render and unfortunately you see problems with it. You have just wasted valuable time and money simply because you couldn’t see if anything needed to be fixed before the render.

    Real-time editing describes a level of performance editing video where it takes no longer to render a video than the length of that video clip itself. Cream and creatives like them benefit from real-time editing because it allows them to make corrections much faster and iterate more, saving on the load times and ultimately the bottom line.

    How real-time editing is used at Cream

    Cream needs to do their work in real-time. For instance, with real-time rendering, Cream is able to move models and play animations, with full 3D lighting at the same time. This wasn’t possible until just recently. Cream can see exactly how the model will look in the end product because of real-time rendering. Modelers at Cream can see the animated performances in their final form while being lit correctly. How is Cream able to do this? Thanks to real-time ray tracing powered by NVIDIA Quadro RTX GPUs, they can have two applications running simultaneously: Maya and their game engine. This allows them to have models perform while being lit correctly in real-time. 

    Doing these things at the same time allows Cream to know more quickly whether they’re doing their work correctly. This in turn allows them to make corrections faster when needed.

    What hardware is Cream using?

    Real-time ray tracing has been a dream for a long time. It is revolutionary for companies like Cream. While ray-tracing has existed for a long time, only recently have artists have been able to achieve real-time ray tracing due to the performance advancements the industry has seen in today’s computer hardware. At Cream, they use Dell Precision workstations with NVIDIA RTX 6000 GPUs to use real-time ray tracing and enable real-time editing.

    “It’s amazing to be creating right now, because we now have the ability to do heavy lifting in real-time thanks to the Dell Precision workstations with NVIDIA RTX 6000 GPU’s,” says Andrew MacDonald, the Executive producer at Cream Digital.

    Cream has used other workstations before, but they weren’t able to do what they needed them to do. For instance, they started their business working with 8K videos on Macs. Cream insists Macs simply aren’t built to handle the kind of work they need them to do. The Dell Precision workstation, however, does.

    “It went so much faster when we switched to Dell Precision workstations,” Andrew says. Primarily, Cream relies on the fact that their Precision workstations are customizable. There are multiple card slots open, so they can add in another Quadro RTX card to boost the speed. There’s room to grow. Right now, Cream is using Dell’s mid-range precision. While it isn’t the most powerful and expensive workstation Dell has to offer, it delivers the right level of performance and affordability.

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