San Fransokyo in Big Hero 6 © Disney

Disney’s new Hyperion animation renderer

Disney’s Hyperion Renderer

How does Hyperion produce images?

by The Hyperion Team at Walt Disney Animation Studio

In our movies, we encounter very large and complex settings that would present a challenge to any renderer striving to simulate realistic lighting. Hyperion is our in-house renderer. Specifically, it is a physically based path tracer.

A renderer is the software that takes a complete virtual scene composed of models, animations, textures, lights, and other objects and produces the final images that make up an animated movie. It does this by calculating how light bounces around the scene and interacts with objects.

Using a typical path tracing technique, light randomly bounces around so we cannot predict which object it will bounce off of next. This can lead to a massive amount of time wasted, especially in complex scenes. To tackle this difficult problem we use our own unique variation of path tracing.

Hyperion handles several million light rays at a time by sorting and bundling them together according to their directions. When the rays are grouped in this way, many of the rays in a bundle hit the same object in the same region of space. This similarity of ray hits allows us – and the computer – to optimize the calculations for the objects hit.

see animation samples at Walt Disney Animation Studio

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