Katzenberg sees 3-D movie revolution in scalable chips
HUNTINGTON BEACH, California |
HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Reuters) - Animated 3-D movies will soon be made cheaper, faster and more vividly with a new generation of computer chips that can crunch huge amounts of data faster than ever, DreamWorks Animation SKG Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said this week.
Katzenberg, one of the first studio chiefs to embrace 3-D animation in films like "Monsters vs Aliens", told Intel Capital's CEO Summit in Huntington Beach, California that he is even more excited about the creative potential of this "scalable multi-core processing".
"Ten years from now I think this will be a tipping point for how we view entertainment and how entertainment views the world," he said of the chips, which are still in development.
Katzenberg gave attendees at the conference sneak peeks at footage from DreamWorks Animation's upcoming 3-D films "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Shrek Forever After".
He also screened eye-popping sports footage on 3-D-enabled television that he predicted would be in 30 percent of US households by 2013, with early adoption spurred by sports and video games.
Limited processing power for 3-D films has forced animators to work in an assembly line-type fashion, with characters' faces, bodies, clothing and fur or hair animated by a different artist. Each film requires four years and 400 artists to make, Katzenberg said at a presentation.
BACK TO PENCIL AND PAPER
The new chips will allow artists to return to performing their craft as expressively as they did in the days of pencil and paper, Katzenberg said. "We can envision a day when animators will be able to work on their characters at full resolution and not in pieces."
He did not comment on whether the new technology would result in job cuts. "We really don't know yet what the impact on cost and workforce will be," he said.
Intel Corp has been improving its multi-core chips, and Katzenberg's vision could be fulfilled within the next few years.
Essentially, each core handles two "threads" at a time, meaning it can handle two tasks. Intel has been multiplying the number of cores in a single chip -- the "scalable" of his description -- increasing the number of tasks an individual chip can perform.
That increases the speed and lowers the cost of computing the repetitive tasks that form a large part of animation.
Other companies have taken their own approaches to visual imaging, including Nvidia Corp and ATI, a division of Advanced Micro Devices.
Experts say this inevitably will lead to more power for individual users, making it possible for independent film makers to play a larger role in a field that until now has required legions of workers to add special effects and animation.
(Reporting by Gina Keating and David Lawsky; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
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