Leveraging Crush’s computing strength, ITS worked with Heath Hanlin, associate professor and department chair of Art, Design and Transmedia in the College of Visual Performance Arts, to construct a render farm. Hanlin produced “Branches,” a high-resolution, computationally complex 3-D animation, his newest exploration of line, light and sound.

“A computer artist is dependent upon the machine to realize the work. I could have built a personal render farm, but that would only go so far.” Hanlin says. “It was exciting to witness ITS’s depth of services and how responsive and excited they were to support the initiative.”

Using SideFX’s Houdini procedural modeling and rendering software, and a combination of scripting and programming languages, Hanlin completed “Branches” in a year. The first five months were dedicated to calculations and computational analysis.

Heath Hanlon

Heath Hanlin, associate professor and department chair of Art, Design and Transmedia in the College of Visual Performance Arts

“Crush outperformed initial estimates. We ran continuously on Crush for 90 days. We were anticipating five months,” Hanlin says. Rendering 14,452 frames for approximately 1.5 million hours in 4K high frame rate (HFR) resolution produced a five-minute short at 48 frames per second.

Branches Excerpt

Branches, by Heath Hanlin 30 second excerpt. from Heath Hanlin on Vimeo.

‘Branches’ is an abstract computer animation by Heath Hanlin. The animation is based around a five minute musical improvisation with Hanlin playing a Moog synthesizer and Joshua Dekaney playing percussion. The visuals serve in some ways as the melody instrument in the composition, taking cues from the accompaniment, but never hewing too closely. The animation is in many ways a controllable physical simulation based loosely around the branching patterns of trees.