Lights, Camera, Quadro! The Magic Behind 11 Years of Oscar-Worthy Visual Effects

For the 11th year running, every Oscar nominee for the Best Visual Effects used NVIDIA Quadro GPUs.
by Rick Champagne

The Oscar nominations are in — and, for the 11th year in a row, NVIDIA Quadro GPUs are behind every movie nominated for Best Visual Effects.

The five VFX contenders for the 91st annual Academy Awards, set for Sunday, Feb. 24, are:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Christopher Robin
  • First Man
  • Ready Player One
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
Scene from Ready Player One. ©2018 Warner Bros. Ent. All rights reserved.

For more than a decade, NVIDIA has been powering some of the most captivating visual effects in film. If you were wowed by the Bengal tiger in a life raft in Life of Pi, by Sandra Bullock’s rescue from deep space in Gravity or the neo-noir realm of Blade Runner 2049, you can thank Quadro.

This year’s Avengers: Infinity War is a fan favorite. To create the multiple worlds and characters, including the infamous villain Thanos, the team at Digital Domain knew they had to step up their game.

“For Digital Domain, the work on Avengers: Infinity War was a massive leap forward for our facial capture technology and creature animation,” said Darren Hendler, head of Digital Humans at Digital Domain. “Key to this process were immediate realistic rendered previews of the characters’ emotional performances, which was made possible using NVIDIA GPU technology. Due to the speed of GPU-accelerated rendering, never again do we need to review work in progress that is not photorealistically lit and rendered into the plate. This is truly game changing for the VFX workflow.”

In Ready Player One, characters in the film were able to enter a virtual environment called the OASIS, which was surrounded by virtual avatars, landscapes and ‘80s nostalgia. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) turned to NVIDIA GPUs to create the graphics for the film.

“If there was ever a movie tailor-made for NVIDIA’s blistering GPU technology, it’s Ready Player One,” said Grady Cofer, visual effects supervisor at ILM. “Our virtual production was predicated on our ability to create high-fidelity, real-time visualizations. And the OASIS — the film’s vast virtual world — could not have been realized without the speed and interactivity that NVIDIA afforded us.”

  • Scene from Solo: A Star Wars Story. TM-©-Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

See How Amazing Visual Effects Are Created

Learn more about visual effects at GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, March 18-21.

Come see Lucasfilm’s Vicki Dobbs Beck talk about The Journey to Immersive Storytelling, which marries visual effects with immersive technologies to transport us directly into the worlds we see on the big screen, and interact with the characters as if we were there.

Get a closer look at Genesis, MPC Film’s virtual production platform, which incorporates modern technologies like mixed reality and more traditional techniques like motion capture. The session will also cover how MPC is improving the quality of real-time graphics with a special attention to lighting, and how they incorporate real-time ray tracing into the Genesis platform.

Check out the other Media & Entertainment sessions at GTC.