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Award Season FocusTech

A Look at Rhythm & Hues’ Oscar-Winning Technology Voodoo

The Oscars just did a little segment on their Scientific and Technical Awards. Among the the winners of the Technical Achievement Award this year was Rhythm & Hues for its proprietary Voodoo software. The Academy presented the award to Peter Huang and Chris Perry for their architectural contributions to the application framework of Voodoo, and to Hans Rijpkema and Joe Mancewicz for the core engineering of the software.

So what exactly is Voodoo? Rhythm & Hues recently posted this incredible video on their website that gives a sense of the robust character animation toolset they’ve developed since the mid-1990s. As explained in the video, one of Voodoo’s unique attributes is its tools that streamline artists’ workflows and enable work to happen across departmants in parallel.

Rhythm & Hues has always placed great value on creating its own tools and workflows. When they declared bankruptcy last year, a list of all their proprietary software applications was made public in court documents. Here is that list:

Voodoo – Animation, Rigging, Matchmove, Crowds, Fur grooming, Computer Vision.
Icy – Rotoscoping, Paint and Compositing.
Wren – Renderer.
Rampage – Environment projection system.
Crom – Light Comp, Lighting Workflow and next generation VFX software platform.
Eve – Multi-resolution, collaborative digital dailies and review system.
Anvil – R&H’s oranizational tool for plugins for Crom (and potentially other software platforms).
AHAB – Academy award winning fluid simulation technology.
Ocean Tools – Proprietary tools for generating water and fluid effects.
Jobtracker – Distributed production management system.
Snarf – Global trouble ticketing.
LoUIE – Global information distribution system.
Merlin – Online media reference library and archive.
Scheduler – Online room and video conference scheduling system.
TaskTrack – Timesheet management system.
HRIS – Human Resources Information System.
Node/Asset System – Artist Workspace and digital asset system.
Queue – Academy award winning render farm management software.
Wired – Asset distribution technology.
Unibrowser – Software to manage this asset system.
PTS – Replicated production tracking database.
PTSFS – Database driven POSIX-like global namespace.
CacheFS – Proprietary version of CacheFS
DDR/HSM – Custom storage system that contains all reviewable material submitted since 1996.
Delorean – R&H version of time machine – backup system.
Swamp – Proprietary storage system for 2K playback solution.

(list via VFX-tech.com>)

  • Jens

    Interesting, but near unwatchable video – why do people keep using players like jw player if there’s youtube and vimeo… Regardless thanks for giving us a peek into something you usually don’t see. Parts of the interface kinda remind me of Maya. Looks like a pretty powerful tool, -importing live assets sounds pretty cool. Must be lovely to work with software which has it’s own dedicated in house dev team.

    • Rick Dolishny

      We use JW player to protect our content.

      Anything that is uploaded to YouTube is essentially signed off to Google, and they can generate ad dollars from my content. It’s fine for promotion, but professional work sometimes needs to be protected.

      Now that’s the WHY people use JW player. As for its use with this cool video, it might be better suited to YouTube as a promotional tool for the amazing content at R&H.

      • mike

        there’s still vimeo

      • DC

        Took me less than a minute to rip the video from the site and watch it properly in VLC. Seems pretty unprotected to me. If its a promotional video, post it proudly on youtube and vimeo and let the world watch. JW player makes it totally unwatchable.

        • Rick Dolishny

          It’s the Terms Of Service using YouTube I’m referring to. Anyone can illegally rip a video.

          • DC

            There is nothing illegal about ripping a video. Even in the case of term & conditions– which isn’t the case here by the way– those aren’t laws.