The new Apple Mac Pro is expensive. And it has been pointed out that it resembles a cheese grater, among other things. Yet, there is nothing that can take anything away from the sheer computing power that it brings to the table for professionals. British animation studio Lunar Animation has said that they used an early access Mac Pro to create animations for Jumanji: The Next Level movie. Lunar Animation says that creating animations are one of the toughest tasks for any computing device to process.
The early access Mac Pro which Apple provided to Lunar Animation was what it calls a mid-range spec. It is powered by a 3.2 GHz 16‑core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.4 GHz, 192 GB (6x32GB) of DDR4 ECC memory, two Radeon Pro Vega II graphics with 32 GB of HBM2 memory each, 4 TB SSD storage, an Apple Afterburner card and the Pro Display XDR. The software that was used on this Mac Pro included Maya for 3D modelling and animation, V-Ray rendering engine for Maya, Houdini for simulation and effects, Nuke for compositing, Divinchi Resolve for editing, Adobe Photoshop for image editing and Substance Painter for shading and texturing.
“The timing of receiving the machine couldn’t have been better as the studio was just about to begin work on the new Jumanji movie JUMANJI THE NEXT LEVEL. We were tasked to create the ‘Main on Ends’ (MOE) which is essentially the end animated credits for the movie,” the studio says in a blog post. “This was a fantastic project and opportunity for us as a studio and involved a number of challenging aspects you can expect from working on a feature,” they add.
The project had to be photorealistic and there were 28 unique panels for the credits, says Lunar Animation, specifying that with each panel featuring at least one prop related to the movie. This was spread across a two-minute sequence. The project would be done with a single camera move and there were also weather effects to create. “All of this had to be done within a timeframe of four weeks,” they say.
Till now, Lunar Animation was working with an older iMac Pro, and were fearing that they may have to shift to a Windows 10 machine in the near future—at least till Apple announced the Mac Pro update. “With the texture issues we were encountering on the iMac Pro, we opened the same scene on the Mac Pro and all of the textures loaded up completely fine. This makes sense, as there is double the graphics memory for textures (32GB instead of 16GB). We were then surprised to see that it was playing back in real time without pre-caching, because even with clamped textures on the iMac Pro, we weren’t getting a consistent 24 frames-per-second during playback,” they say.
Jumanji: The Next Level has already grossed over $300 million in cinemas worldwide.