Open-source node-based VFX application, Gaffer, will soon be working on your Windows workstation. Find out how Hypothetical is contributing to this effort.
One of Hypothetical’s founding principals is that a strong pipeline and heavy automation results in better delivered productions to our clients. This philosophy has proven to let us iterate creative ideas at a faster pace, make fewer errors that result in time-consuming rework, keep artists creating instead of shuffling data and take on projects that would normally require a much larger staff.
Now Hypothetical is embarking on a forward-looking rework of its entire CGI production pipeline. In the coming months we will be transitioning from our collection of individual Python and MaxScript tools to a unified framework built on top of Gaffer, a powerful, open source, node-based VFX application created by John Haddon. Gaffer has proven itself in blockbuster movie and TV visual effects productions as the foundation of Image Engine‘s pipeline and we are very excited to start building our own pipeline on top of it.
Gaffer is incredibly flexible because it is incredibly extendable. The built-in functions make it a great fit for scene assembly, look development, lighting and rendering. But with custom nodes created in Python and C++, it can be adapted to use across the entire pipeline. We’re looking forward to also using it for asset management, render farm submission, quality control tracking and more.
The first step is converting Gaffer from its native Linux platform to Windows, the platform Hypothetical uses for artist workstations. Luckily for us that task was well under way with hard work by Alex Fuller. Since the Spring, I’ve been tag-teaming with Alex and the Image Engine crew to sort out remaining incompatibilities and set up the foundation of building and testing future developments. We’re now very close to having a Windows version ready to release!
Once we have the last user interface quirks ironed out, I’m excited to see how it grows. If you are interested in contributing, the Gaffer project is on Github where you can create a fork of your own and start tinkering. There is also a user-oriented forum where you can ask questions and look through the history of discussions which reveal a lot of interesting directions people are taking. I’ve always found the development community around Gaffer to be very welcoming and helpful.
I’m particularly interested to extend the rendering capability of Gaffer to include Vray, Hypothetical’s renderer of choice (it currently supports Arnold, Renderman and Appleseed). It would be a big undertaking and I welcome the collaboration. 🙂
But first, we have a lot of exciting sub-projects to adapt Gaffer to our own pipeline and start letting it loose on our productions. It’s an exciting time at Hypothetical!