CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF GPUS

by Danny Shapiro

This weekend, I took my kids to see the new blockbuster hit “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” This fun story was originally a children’s book by Judi Barrett, and was brought to life in full 3D animation by Sony Pictures Imageworks.  Even after being released several weeks ago, the theater was packed. It is still ranked third in revenue after capturing the box office top spots in its first two weekends.

The story revolves around an inventive young man named Flint Lockwood who sees the world in a different light. He’s always trying to come up with new inventions and things that will help make the world a better place – be it TVs that walk to you (until they walk away), or spray-on rubber shoes (that you can’t remove). Flint ends up inventing a machine that turns water into food – and the food rains down from the sky in the form of hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and more. Of course, things go awry.

What really struck me was Flint’s unique vision of the world and the fortitude with which he approached finding solutions.  This reminded me of something NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said at a lecture earlier this year at Stanford, “Vision Matters.” His remarks addressed the importance of creating a vision for the future as a more fascinating place is a way for us to be creative and innovative.

I think Flint would agree – as would the technologists behind the movie.  The team at Sony Pictures Imageworks was highly creative and unafraid to try out some new tricks in the creation of the film.  Specifically, SPI utilized NVIDIA GPUs and wrote a special set of software tools that take advantage of the CUDA parallel processing architecture to develop some of the breathtaking 3D effects in the movie. GPUs were tapped to model and render a wide range of visual effects including dust clouds, fire, sparks…and, of course, the unforgettable swirling tornado of spaghetti sauce.Cloudy-Tornado_large

No one could have predicted that Sony would have a vision for a Spaghetti Tornado, but it will be exciting to see what they come up with next utilizing NVIDIA technology. If you want to learn more about the visionary people at Sony behind “Cloudy,” you can check out this Popular Mechanics article.