Nvidia Corporation is an American multinational technology company founded in Delaware and based in Santa Clara, California. It designs graphics processing units (GPUs) for the gaming and professional markets, as well as systems on a chip units (SoCs) for the mobile computing and automotive markets.
The industry standard frame rate for movies is 24 fps. However, there are several fast-paced battle scenes in Billy Lynn’s story.
If images are taken at a standard speed, the images tend to stutter, causing headache and eye strain for the viewer. According to the film’s production systems supervisor Ben Gervais, “Aang was looking for a solution to the problem of stuttering in motion, which can occur in both 3D and 24 frames.
Seeing movement stop sends signals to your brain that something is happening. Is not correct. The answer was to increase the frame rate. But it comes with its own challenges.”
Combining advanced technology of 120 fps with 3D in high dynamic range, it produces five times more data than a standard movie, adding stereo 4K boosts data 10 times more than in other productions.
Over 47 days of recording 400 terabytes of data were produced and neither budget nor time frame could have been affected, so all that data had to be processed as quickly as possible.
There must be innovation and creative thinking at every level to realize Ang Lee’s vision for Billy Lin. NVIDIA GPUs were involved in almost all phases of film production, including the launch of the on-set dailies, color, final finishing, and eventually 120 FPS impressions.
Colorfront’s production team needs to handle a new level of data for regular dailies, which requires custom software configuration to ensure they can transfer files as quickly as possible. Bruno Munger says, “There are a number of things NVIDIA GPUs are built for that allow us to do things faster than CPUs, including lag, scaling, grading, and color space conversion, that regular computers do. To replace the original colors of the camera on the monitor.” Director of Business Development at Colorfront.
For a fully interactive color-grading experience, production also requires a base lighting system running dual Christie Mirage 4K 120Hz 3D stereoscopic digital projectors.
These differ from typical digital cinema projectors in that they are often used for highly immersive user experiences, such as amusement park rides. Using nine NVIDIA GPUs for display, display and user interface – plus an NVIDIA Quadro Sync card for synchronizing signals. Projector – FilmLight made a modified version of their HFR Baselight X system. 4K can drive both eyes at 120 Hz, simultaneously enabling creative multi-layer grading and advanced 3D geometry correction.
Coupled with an interactive rating system, Baselight X delivers a smooth, immersive experience, while providing very high data rates for real-time uncompressed rendering. Steve Chapman, CEO and co-founder of FilmLight, said: “We all use NVIDIA GPUs in our rating system to provide the highest quality professional color correction.
The multi-GPU configuration in the Baselight X system is designed to enable similar operation. On top of the improvements to the stereo geometry, with this higher resolution and frame rate.”
Although 3D and 4K are increasingly common technologies, they are rarely combined. The 120 fps added for Billy Lynn made for an immersive, hyper-realistic experience as ever shown on screen. This technology is guaranteed to have an impact on how future films are shot and processed.
With the added shine, standard film tricks of the past came across as counterintuitive – makeup couldn’t be worn, lighting and staging had to be rethought, and the acting had to be more subtle and realistic.
GPU-accelerated processing took care of every step of the revolutionary workflow created for the film to process vast amounts of data.
The resulting experience goes beyond just watching the impression of a movie and, like perceiving reality, a visceral phenomenon without eye strain, motion sickness or distraction. The frame rate of 120 fps is a multiple of 24 (used for cinema) and 30 (used for television), making it easier than usual for both TV and film.
The constant collaboration between the studio and the technical and creative teams enabled the skillful use of technology to tell the story of Billy Lynn in a way that is both emotionally dynamic and comfortable for audiences to watch.
This is indeed a turning point in the filmmaking of one of the most visionary directors of our times. The techniques and workflow promise to influence the film industry for years to come for him and the team.