The first Mac Pro reviews are in, and it truly does deserve the title of “fastest Mac ever.”
Of course, it’s hard to express to average users why a computer that starts at $US2,999, even with all of the fastest internals and a revolutionary form-factor, is worth it for anyone.
Your average person doesn’t have any software that demands two dozen cores and two graphics cards. Most have no idea what it means to “edit and render 4K video.”
What they do know is Pixar. Since the mid-90s, the animation studios has wowed audiences around the globe with its beautiful computer generated imagery, commonly referred to as CGI.
When the Mac Pro was recently discussed on developer Marco Arment’s Accidental Tech Podcast, the three hosts briefly discussed a presentation at Apple’s 2013 Worldwide Developer Conference, in which an artist at Pixar demonstrated how the company uses Apple’s powerful new computer to do work in real time that would have taken hours on a traditional computer.
Below, Business Insider has taken screenshots from Apple’s official recording of the event (which developers can find on their site by searching for “Painting The Future”) to demonstrate how the company’s expensive desktop is being used in the real world.
Pixar’s artists start with concept art that give the 3D modelers an idea of what a character should look like when showing different emotions.
They give notes describing what different parts of the character were inspired by and any lighting details that should be worked into the creation of the character.
Features that require more detail, like faces, get extra notes.
That’s when the work that demands real computing horsepower starts — and where the Mac Pro comes in.
Using a professional-grade app called MARI, Pixar artists take basic 3D models created by other team members and begin to “paint” details onto their characters.
Using a tablet and stylus, the artist is able to paint with much finer detail than he could with a mouse. He claims that the Mac Pro makes the experience so smooth, he forgets that he’s painting on a computer: “It feels like I’m painting in real life.”
Pixar’s artists can use MARI to paint on details like shades of skin on different parts of the body and even little things like freckles.
All of the detail he’s drawing are saved to separate images for each part of the body. These images can be reduced in quality (so they can be used for games on comparatively weak consoles) or scaled up (for use in motion pictures on the big screen). The files the artist is working with on the Mac Pro are scaled for the latter.
After about 30 minutes with MARI and the Mac Pro, the artist has added enough detail to render a model that’s this far along. Traditionally, rendering (which essentially means generating a model with all of the effects applied) would take anywhere from two minutes to twelve hours to complete — the Mac Pro does it in instantly.
The image data for the character above is a massive 10 GB, which is bigger than the total amount of RAM most computers have to hold this kind of stuff. The Mac Pro can render several of these characters with lighting applied and animate them, also in real time.
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