Adopting the simplicity of our company motto, our Technology Team strives to create the best environment for Animals (including ourselves) to be able to create great work both on and behind the screen.
To achieve that, we have the following principles:
WE ARE A PART OF THE FILMMAKING PROCESS. Our tech team is here to be a part of making movies! To encourage that all technology team members are invited to screenings, wrap parties, receive film swag and are included in the credits of every film we create.
WE SHARE OUR INNOVATION WITH THE WORLD. We receive many benefits from being a part of an industry that shares techniques, experience and even source code to drive us all forward. We are committed to reciprocation and encourage our teams to contribute to open source initiatives and present our findings back to the community-at-large.
WE SUPPORT CAREER GROWTH INDEPENDENT OF LOCATION. Our teams, processes and decision-making are made globally. Our Sydney and Vancouver studios are peers and leadership is distributed and encouraged in both locations.
WE SUPPORT AND DRIVE IMPROVEMENTS IN DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION. Diversity in technology is a global issue, and Animal prioritizes the mentorship, promotion and recruitment of a diverse workforce.
WE PRIORITIZE BALANCE. Making animated films is a marathon, not a sprint. We support and promote work-life balance for our teams to remain healthy and happy.
On this site, you’ll find information about the four P’s of our Technology Organisation: Pipeline, Partnerships, Products, and Papers.
Our most important ‘P’, People, are interspersed throughout these sections but watch the Animal Stories videos below that highlight our teams and their close relationship to the production process.
Pipelines are critical to animated films. With at least 130,000 frames in every finished product, and hundreds of people working together for years to generate them, the coordination and efficient flow of information and data are critical to success.
Animal Logic has been creating animated films since the 2006 release, Happy Feet. Since that time our pipeline has undergone many iterations and improvements to meet changing needs (millions of LEGO bricks!) and changing infrastructure (Cloud Enablement). Most recently, we were an enthusiastic early adopter of Pixar’s Universal Scene Description, and it makes up the foundation of our modern pipeline. We encourage everyone to explore our ALab, a reference data set of how we use USD in production here.
Despite all the changes since animating those dancing penguins almost two decades ago, the fundamental principles of our pipeline have remained the same:
Context is King: Good creative decisions require accurate context. We review all material as it is intended to be seen, with as much context as possible (lighting, simulations, fur, fx, crowd, etc).
Automate Renders: We provide that context through automated renders. Any reviewable step in the pipeline relies on automated rendering, and the data published behind those renders provide up-to-date context for downstream departments. This automated approach ensures errors are caught as early as possible.
CI/CD Pipeline: Continually delivering data to upstream departments from automated renders ensures a high degree of parallelisation and an up-to-date context. Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery is not just for software.
Atomic Pipeline: Break down artist work into atomic elements that can be iterated, tracked, and versioned independently. This enables our automation, allowing context with minimal human input.
Diagram It: We’re visual people who need visual workflows to ensure clear communication. With long-established diagram conventions, we strive to represent complex workflows with clear diagrams. Our goal is to represent our entire pipeline as a dataflow graph.
These principles facilitate creative iteration at a grand scale, and they guide everything we do when configuring show pipelines.
Our Technology Team is constantly looking to innovate and we value external partnerships when doing so. We work closely with commercial vendors, the open-source community, and academic institutions. We’ve had some great success partnering with our key vendors such as Autodesk, where we initially open-sourced our MayaUSD toolset, then worked with them to adopt large parts of it into their off-the-shelf offering. We pride ourselves on our transparency and we embrace the concepts of open innovation.
Animal Logic was a founding member of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) and continues its membership to embrace and support open source software development. We are active members of the ASWF community and you’ll see most of our contributions have recently come in the shape of our open-source asset landscape – ALab.
We also value academic relationships and see them as our key to strong future growth. This began with our partnership with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 2017 to create the UTS Animal Logic Academy. It has expanded to include emerging talent programs such as our co-op and intern program, where we’ve been working with the University of British Columbia, the University of Waterloo, and Simon Fraser University to place their students in our R&D teams.
Animal Logic has also been a long-time partner of Screen NSW’s Animation and VFX Traineeship program which has led to several technology placements over the years.
We are excited to share glimpses of some of the proprietary technology that we’ve developed at our studios over the past thirty years to inform and inspire others. While we have a lot to add, we’ve started with some links to descriptions of our proprietary renderer, Glimpse.
Developed in 2012 as an interactive lighting renderer for Walking with Dinosaurs, Glimpse was brought to full production usage in 2013 on The LEGO Movie and has been used as the primary renderer on every project since then. Glimpse is still in active development, with new features and capabilities being added on a daily basis. Below is a list of resources where you can learn more:
DIGIPRO 2022 ASH A Case For Layered Shading
SIGGRAPH 2021 Spectral Imaging in Production
SIGGRAPH 2019 Path Tracing in Production – Part 2: Making Movies
SIGGRAPH 2018 Path Tracing in Production – Part 1: Production Renderers
SIGGRAPH 2017 Evolving Complexity Management on The LEGO Batman Movie
SIGGRAPH 2017 Rendering the Darkness: Glimpse on The LEGO Batman Movie
In the same spirit of open innovation that we apply to our partnerships, we’re proud to share our work with the industry and have had fantastic representation at SIGGRAPH over the years, whether that’s presenting or our employees being key contributors to the events themselves. We’ve seen representation from across our Technology Teams, with presentations focused on computer graphics, the core infrastructure, as well as our Pipeline that ties it all together.
More recently we’ve enjoyed broadening our horizons and we look forward to more opportunities to present our work at non-industry related conferences.
Browse our online publications from SIGGRAPH and DigiPro from the last two decades via our Publications Page!