Award-winning VFX House Pixomondo has recently been tapped to provide the stunning visual effects for J.J. Abrams’ epic Star Trek Into Darkness, with the studio working with unprecedented scene scale, utilizing around 300 shots, making up one third of the film’s visual effects.
Pixomondo is responsible for one of the most action-packed sequences of the film, which is the 15 minute scene of an alient planet slowly coming into view as seen from the aircraft, followed by the craft descending through the clouds and being forced to land. The sequence is almost entirely CG, using 80 VFX shots, with the only practical footage being the one taken of the crewmembers in the cockpit. In order to provide the sheer hardware crunching power that the quick cuts, over all cuts, and massive scale required, Pixomondo’s CG team tapped NVIDIA’s Quadro K4000 GPU to accelerate their Autodesk 3ds Max workflow.
“We pushed a lot of limits when it came to scene scale,” says Enrico Damm, who manages the 25 CG artists working on the film, explained. “It became impossible to navigate in these massive 3D scenes, and other programs started running slow. Assets had a lot of textures and large texture sizes we’ve never encountered. All this data required way more power to process than was available on our workstations.”
“We were very impressed with how the K4000 cards impacted 3ds Max viewport performance,” noted Damm. “Once we discovered how much faster and smoother data was processed, we relied heavily on the K4000-accelerated workstations and practically had them running 24/7. When one artist would leave for the day, another artist would take over on that same system.”