PDG Press Release

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PDG enhances SideFX’s procedural architecture to distribute tasks and manage dependencies to better scale, automate, and analyze content pipelines for Film, TV, Games, Advertising and VR

TORONTO: March 14, 2019 - SideFX is pleased to announce the release of Procedural Dependency Graph (PDG) technology. The tech is available in the upcoming release of Houdini 17.5 as a new Houdini operating context called TOPs (Task Operators) and as a standalone application called PilotPDG™.

PDG is designed to:
- Describe complex dependencies visually with nodes
- Transform that dependency description into a set of actionable, monitorable tasks
- Distribute those tasks with the help of a scheduler and compute them in parallel

To illustrate the challenge when dealing with dependencies, consider the example of a procedurally-generated city - with a variety of complex buildings, roads and sidewalks, traffic signs, etc. If the technical artist were to make a structural change to the city, the geometry needs to be rebuilt in a sequence of steps - first, build the roads, then create the city blocks, then construct the buildings, followed by windows and interiors, etc. All of these things need to happen in the correct order, to happen as quickly as possible and to leverage all available compute resources with maximum efficiency.

“PDG tackles this problem by generalizing the idea of a dependency graph. Dependency graphs are used all over the industry, but come with an inherent assumption - that nodes in the graph only execute once. PDG creates a highly flexible template graph where many instances of the node are allowed to execute simultaneously,” says Ken Xu, Senior Software Architect, SideFX, “This generalization allows tasks to be parallelized, complex dependencies to be described, and higher level reasoning to be performed where we can now describe what is to happen for processing in general, rather than a specific instance of a problem.”

The richness of the stock nodes of the PDG platform allows users to benefit from visual programming, with huge gains in efficiency by allowing tech artists to avoid writing code to achieve many of the typical workflows. This helps democratize the pipeline ecosystem, giving artists the power of automation while programmers can take advantage of PDG to efficiently distribute pipeline tasks to a compute farm.

The first adopters of the alpha and beta versions of PDG have been pipeline managers at film and game studios, who have found significant workflow efficiencies using this new technology.

As a global leader in computer graphics for media and entertainment, Technicolor has multiple large, global CG pipelines, filled with complex dependencies – an ideal environment for leveraging PDG workflows. “We’re working towards a unified PDG ecosystem to tie together several of our large-scale pipelines,” says Damien Fagnou, SVP Technology and Infrastructure, Technicolor Production Services, “Although we’re still in the early stages of developments, we’re already seeing incredible potential gains, and we’re looking forward to working closely with SideFX as we continue the progression”

Using PilotPDG to streamline their game development pipeline, Bjorn Henriksson, Studio Technical Art Director at EA DICE says, “In PDG we see the first tool that helps manage the complexity of modern game production, and the problems content creators face when dealing with proceduralism, automation and dependencies.”

Also in the games segment, Andrius Drevinskas, Senior VFX artist at Guerrilla Games/SONY says, “Scalability is the most powerful concept behind PDG. It can scale much larger than traditional CGI tools – processing transactions in parallel locally, on the farm, or in the cloud. PDG comforts us to move away from the paradigm where every single node during the game-dev creation has to be processed linearly before the other processes can be started.”

While PDG is available in Houdini 17.5 onwards, and can be used to manage Houdini workflows, the power of PDG extends to the wider pipeline to other commonly used applications such as Autodesk Maya, Adobe Photoshop, FFMPEG, Thinkbox Software Deadline, and more. Integrations can be developed either by the community, or by software developers such as Adobe.

“We’re excited to work with SideFX on the integration with Adobe Creative Cloud products,” said Pam Clark, Senior Director, Product Management for Photoshop. “It was straightforward for us to develop a PDG node which could interact with Photoshop’s actions, and we’re looking forward to seeing how creative artists will make use of Photoshop in the PDG ecosystem. Moreover, we see this as just the beginning of a series of upcoming integrations with other Adobe apps like Dimension and our newly-acquired Substance suite of materials tools.”

For more detailed information on PDG and PilotPDG, visit http://sidefx.com/pdg [sidefx.com]

About SideFX

Established in 1987, SideFX is a world leader in the development of advanced 3D animation and visual effects software for use in film, commercials and video games. SideFX has been recognized three times with Scientific and Technical awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Houdini is used by numerous leading digital content creation facilities including: Pixar Animation Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Blue Sky Studios, Digital Domain, DNEG, Electronic Arts, Framestore, Guerrilla Games, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Press Contact:
Christopher Hebert | chebert@sidefx.com
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