The Disney Science Behind the Hyperion Renderer

The Walt Disney Animation Studios Technology team created this helpful, 1950s classroom-style tutorial on the new Hyperion renderer (which made the complexity possible for the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6). It’s now doing wonders with next year’s Zootopia, among others.

Hyperion is a physically based path tracer built for a lot of geometry (such as San Fransokyo or the fur for all the animals in Zootopia). It shoots rays (line segments) into the scene and tracks them as they bounce between objects. Paths are started in Hyperion from the camera and shot into the scene to find connections to light sources. This is the opposite of how light behaves in the real world; however, the technique produces a photoreal look and by doing this backwards, it is much easier to find light paths that will actually hit the camera.

But the renderer does not do the actual shading of the ray hits until they are sorted and grouped, allowing for a cache free system of doing large rendering and lighting tasks.

Because all of the interactions between lights and objects in the virtual scene are simulated, Hyperion can capture effects such as refraction and glossy surfaces. Most importantly, Disney can produce images with indirect illumination where light reflecting off virtual objects is accounted for. Even light that reflects several times (called multi-bounce light) has an impact on the scene, incorporating subtle and not-so-subtle lighting effects.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Oscar, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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