Tale of the unreal tiger

As the hynea attacks Pi, a young man and the main character in Ang Lee's recent blockbuster Life of Pi, there is a sudden loud roar and the Royal Bengal tiger jumps and makes an entry into the screen and the audiences are taken aback. For the uninitiated, the widely-acclaimed Hollywood movie's story line revolves the young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor...a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Every little detail of the movie has been artistically done by graphics technology, so much so, the Bengal tiger is also graphically created; it is not real. The visual effect company, Rhythm & Hues (R&H), have developed visual effects tools for Life of Pi, making the experience as realistic as possible! This has been achieved using Nvidia's graphics processing units (GPU), CUDA technology and Nvidia 3D technology. Amalgamation of Nvidia hardware and software support has helped R&H to work on the graphics for this blockbuster hit.

What is the role played by technology in making the movie a success? Vishal Dhupar, managing director–Asia South, Nvidia says that the company's graphics processing units enable customers like Rhythm & Hues to build tools that help produce visual effects for movies more quickly and interactively. "With the use of our GPUs, artists were able to quickly project custom 2D matte paintings onto simple 3D geometry and review in real-time how each sky would look, aligning with the vision of the director and visual effects supervisor, and creating immediate lighting reference images to hand off to other teams of artists," he reveals.

From its roots in visual computing, the Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia has evolved by anticipating major changes in the marketplace. It has been part of the production of many Academy-Award winning movies, like Hugo, Avatar and many others. "More and more studios and visual effects facilities are devising creative methods for leveraging the enormous graphic and computational power of GPUs to enhance their visual effects creation pipeline to bring their stunning visions to life more quickly and efficiently," says Dhupar. "Another highly anticipated movie this season, The Hobbit is also using the Nvidia GPU to accelerate their computer generated lighting and rendering pipeline to bring incredible visual effects to the big screen."

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