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In 2004 12 groups of UK animators gained free access to HP Labs’ Maya® Rendering Service (shared processing resource for CG rendering) to produce 3D shorts. Participants also received Maya® licenses and a programme of workshops, events and industry mentoring. A unique project which pushed the boundaries of contemporary animation.
In 2004 Watershed partnered with HP to create the SE3D project. It commissioned 12 groups of UK artists/animators and gave access to its experimental Maya® Rendering Service, a massive shared processing resource for CG rendering, which adds colour, light and texture to computer-generated frames to turn them into finished frames. Just as none of us filters our own water or generates our own electricity, utility computing such as HP’s Maya® rendering service aims to use remote computers to outsource the processing of data. As well as offering a multi-user industry test for this cutting-edge research technology, the SE3D project delivered 12 fabulous 3D animations from new UK talent.
With fantastic 3D graphics, creative storylines and natural fur and water effects, the resulting films look similar to Hollywood productions made by giants like Dreamworks. The production of a Dreamworks production such as Madagascar has a multimillion-dollar budget, requires more than 1,000 dual-processor computers and an army of professional animators. In contrast to this the 12 SE3D films were created by small companies, or even individuals, some of them working with a single home computer.
Alongside guidance from HP, an advisory board was drawn from Aardman Animation, BBC, 4:2:2, Dreamworks, Alias and Watershed. All 12 films were showcased at that year’s Cannes Film Festival and Encounters International Short Film Festival. The animators received the use of Maya licenses, training and mentoring in advance of and during production, and took part in an eight-month educative programme of workshops and film festival events.
The completed SE3D films provided HP Labs with a tangible example of utility computing that can be used to promote their services within other industries and established a model of collaboration that has attracted interest from across the UK.
A Cat’s Tail After being rejected by the object of his desire, this purple pussycat gets an unlikely and somewhat brutal pampering.
Cellar Dweller The Cellar Dweller is feeling considerably worse-for-wear, as he contemplates the excesses of the previous night's boozing and philandering.
Ebenezer Morgan’s Photography Emporium A sombre photographer is taught an unexpected lesson by a playful dog, in this beautiful sepia-tone short.
Elroy III the Potato Head Boy A young girl finds she has bitten off more than she can chew, when she agrees to control a potato-headed puppet.
If I had a Hammer An assistant in a D.I.Y. superstore has an unusual day at work when Thor drops in to buy a Hammer.
Little Angel Fearing another trip through hell’s fiery gates, the stork decides to drop off a baby demon in heaven instead.
One Good Turn A young man goes out of his way to return a purse that an old lady dropped in the street.
Performer While out jogging a man spots a mysterious figure in the woods, and a strange chase ensues.
Processed A frog sees the girl of his dreams, but finds that the course of true love never did run smooth…
Solid Sound A piece of electronic music is explored using botanical imagery, in this hauntingly synchronised short.
Two Fellas From pickled eggs to space exploration, sofa bachelors Green and Yellow discuss the oddness of life.