Bonnie Cha

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Otoy Takes Movie Production to the Cloud (Video)

If you have dreams of creating the next Hollywood blockbuster but don’t have the budget of a big movie studio, a company called Otoy wants to help.

At the D10 conference today, the Los Angeles-based software provider demoed its cloud-based 3-D rendering service called Octane Render, which aims to bring cinema rendering power to any laptop or tablet, at a fraction of the cost.

“What we’re offering lets you render at a higher quality than ILM [Industrial Light & Magic] and other high-end visual effects studios,” said Jules Urbach, co-founder and CEO of Otoy.

Rendering is the process of creating photo-realistic images, such as buildings and animated characters, on a computer, using effects like lighting, shadows, texture — and then bringing that to film. The process can take a lot of time and power, not to mention money, so if you don’t work for a movie studio, creating the next “Transformers” or “The Avengers” can be challenging.

That’s where Octane Render comes in. The service allows you to use your own computer or tablet to work on rendering, but moves the processor-intensive task to its servers, which are equipped with powerful graphic chips. To demonstrate this, Otoy showed at D10 how it created “Transformers” characters for a TV commercial, using just an iPad and Octane Render.

Another advantage of Octane Render is that you will be able to see any modifications you make in real time, whereas the traditional rendering process can take hours.

“Not only is our software cheaper and more efficient, it gives filmmakers more creativity, because you’re able to see things instantaneously,” said Alissa Grainger, co-founder and president of Otoy. “So if an artist doesn’t like the lighting or material, you can change it and get instantaneous feedback.”

Octane Render has been in development for three years, and in beta, or testing mode, for the past 18 months, with about 10,000 users. Otoy will open up the service to everyone later this summer; the company did not reveal pricing at this time. It did say, however, the cost would be “minimal.”

Otoy was founded in 2008 by Urbach, Grainger and Malcolm Taylor. In addition to Octane Render, the company offers a game-streaming service that competes with OnLive and Gaikai. Otoy investors include George Gilder, technology writer and host of the Gilder Telecosm Forum, and Taylor Frigon Capital Partners, LP.

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