JMR Electronics has released some information on an ambitious new project undertaken by filmmaker Douglas Trumbull, whose work on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner is the stuff of VFX legend. It's a 10-minute high-frame-rate short titled UFOTOG — a contraction of "UFO Photography" — that Trumbull shot in stereo 3D at 4K resolution.
Trumbull shot with Canon C500 cameras in a 3D camera rig from 3ality and recorded raw data at 120 fps. Live-action elements, including actors, were shot in front of green screens in Trumbull's studio for later compositing into 3D environments.
In order to handle playback of both eyes at 120fps each, tech consultant Timothy Huber of Theory Consulting asked JMR to try building a solution around super-fast flash storage from Virident Systems. Experimenting with different combinations of motherboard, CPU, GPU, and memory, JMR got a capture server running within two weeks. The server facilitated real-time playback and 3D compositing on set. Moved off-set, but still connected via 56 GB InfiniBand, the server later supported nearby compositing suites. Tech support was provided by JMR.
The good news for filmmakers is that Trumbull and Huber believe this kind of flash-based server can serve as a building block for future high-frame-rate productions, with their exceptional workflow demands. "Once data is captured by the camera, it has to be downloaded into a storage medium and then made available to compositors, editors, and post-production people to manipulate and manage," Trumbull said in a prepared statement. "[JMR's] products are at the leading edge of workstations that allow artists to work at high bandwidth."
Where can you see UFOTOG? That's a good question. Trumbull told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that he's looking for a suitable location in L.A. for some 120fps screenings tentatively scheduled in August. For more on UFOTOG, check out the Videos page at Trumbull's website.