Project History

An historical log of the various projects I've contributed to.. it's not entirely complete.

Lead R&D Engineer – Site Rendering Technology

Double Negative • 2013-2016

Was the lead (and often sole) R&D developer for all core Houdini lighting and shading at the company for the last two years.

  • Part of core R&D department working on rendering technology, shader library development and artist tools for Houdini and Mantra for use on all shows.
  • Wrote and maintained all of the light rig and light transfer API and tools for all packages (Maya, Houdini etc) and all light shaders, tools and in-scene gizmos for Houdini lighting.
  • Mentored a number of staff in various workflows and techniques for general lighting and shading pipelines and fx work (primarily fluids).
  • Consulted and advised on the site HDR pipeline.
  • Developed a complete shading framework for Houdini for use across all shows called ‘Cuttlefish’, comprised of a full set of cross package compatible matching materials, supporting VOP node library, two APIs, large python toolset and VOPfx menus.
  • Developed a lightweight framework for managing configuration and general data at a site/show/user level (integrated into Cuttlefish).
  • Developed a masking system for context and package consistent 2d/3d interchange and operations.
  • Wrote multiple customised versions of the Mantra pathtracer for use on shows (Interstellar and Heart Of The Sea) and one for in house default use for all rendering with a number of added features.

Cuttlefish and previous incarnations of the materials, shading and lighting tools are used across Dneg for shows as the standard toolset, was used on ;

  • Captain America : Civil War
  • Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them
  • Alice Through The Looking Glass
  • Geostorm
  • Batman Vs Superman
  • Spectre
  • Ex Machina

Also provided full R&D support for all Houdini lighting and shading for all facilities at the company on top of the development work schedule.

R&D Engineer – VR/AR Research

Double Negative • 2014

Designed a VR solution for viewing content based on capture and playback of a mix of light field and deep rendered data.

Unfortunately due to the secretive nature of the work I can’t say too much about it.

The implementation is similar to Paul Debevec’s Light Field work with OToy found here..

Light Field Capture and rendering with OToy


Rendering R&D – In The Heart Of The Sea

Double Negative • 2014-2015

Was the core lead R&D shader and lighting developer for the show, responsible for :

  • Ocean surface and close water shader development
  • Light shaders and tools development
  • Surface displace and FX blending tools
  • A custom pathtracer written for high water shot volume
  • A rigid body and FX interaction toolset and masking framework.

Rendering R&D – Interstellar

Double Negative • 2014-2015

Was the core lead Houdini R&D developer for the show, responsible for :

  • DNGR Team Renderer development, part of the team for integration of Kip Thorne’s wormhole mathematics to create a relativistic pathtracer.
  • Light shaders and tools development
  • Volume shaders with a novel level set rendering method for massive geometry data sets
  • A custom pathtracer written for full integration of the DNGR renderer into Houdini and Mantra
  • FX tools for vast to small integration of ocean surfaces
  • Ocean and water shading materials and displace sculpting
  • Foam and bubble cluster simulation and rendering tools

The DNGR work was done with a small team comprised of Oliver James (Team lead), Kip Thorne, myself, Simon Pabst and Paul-George Roberts. The work itself was quite difficult with a number of problems to address, mostly comprising of alias elimination for such high frequency information. Since the data sets involved were exceedingly large I developed a novel method for rendering level sets as volumes (with minimal extra sampling), this allowed a large reduction in ray marching samples and consequent image quality improvements.

For the tidal wave and water work I wrote a set of tools for artists to sculpt ocean surfaces at widely varying continuous scales and fx tools for simulating bubbles and foam at the small scales for close work. These included associated materials and shaders. Also as per standard handled all the lighting shaders and lighting tools for Houdini and the light rig tools and transfer for all the other 3d packages.

Came onto the show as a senior lighting TD but ended up taking on a number of roles.

  • Shot a 32bit texture pipe on location and painted all the textures for the Greenwich ship to water touchdown sequence.
  • Fluid FX for for some shots (whitewater sims)
  • Developed a POP based whitewater solver to avoid DOP limitations for an exceedingly large sim
  • Lit all the Greenwich water shots
  • Developed a wind/calm region mapping system for the ocean displacement tools
  • Particle R&D on the end sequence to achieve the desired look