Marie Curie funds Academy Award-winning partnership
Thanks to Marie Curie Industry and Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) funding, a London-based SME whose software products enhance visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters, and scientists in the Republic of Ireland, are building upon each other’s research and application knowledge to create exciting new products.
When your cinematic superhero flies past a backdrop, chances are that The Foundry’s software was used to trim away the wires that held him up. Sigmedia’s post-production tools and motion estimation technology have also been used for the Matrix, Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Spider Man and Harry Potter.
The two organisations have cooperated successfully for several years and won considerable acclaim for their work, including a highly coveted Scientific and Engineering Award – a technical Oscar – from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences.
Now, as part of the AXIOM project, Marie Curie Industry and Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) funding is helping research fellows from Trinity College Dublin’s Sigmedia (Signal Processing and Media Applications) Group to gain valuable commercial experience in the film post-production industry. Staff from London-based SME The Foundry, have been able to extend their collaborative research into image processing processes and applications.
A leading developer of visual effects and image processing technologies, The Foundry has been able to study TCD’s latest research into 3-D image processing, and TCD Sigmedia research fellows have enhanced their understanding of film media and software.
'In the film post-production industry there is a constant hunt for time-saving applications that can remove the repetitive work from the post-production processes yet retain the artistic input from the user,' says Abi Bowman, The Foundry’s Project Manager.
The Foundry has also benefited by gaining a deeper knowledge of image sequence processing and training in state-of-the-art image and video processing algorithms which make their software’s complex editing processes usable. In turn, TCD’s researchers have been able to learn more about post-production workflow. The Foundry’s Furnace software tracks the motion of objects from one frame to the next during post-production. This saves time, freeing artists from monotonous manual work and helping them to maintain better continuity.
Adds Bowman: 'Currently, there are big changes going on in the film industry, especially surrounding HD (High Definition) and 3-D. The collaboration with TCD Sigmedia scientists has helped us produce cutting-edge products and compete more effectively in worldwide markets.'
The idea for AXIOM (Automated Extraction of Image Metadata) grew out of four years’ collaboration between the two organisations, and the desire to pursue a common goal in specific areas of digital image processing. On ongoing collaboration, AXIOM combines Sigmedia Group’s research skills with The Foundry’s practical knowledge. 'Academics need good connections with industry to keep their work relevant and TCD’s Sigmedia Group gained insight into the post-production industry first hand through its connections with The Foundry,' says Bowman. 'We’ve been able to learn more about image and video processing technologies through working closely with TCD’s experts.'
IAPP funding has financed the researchers’ training, living allowance, travel, mobility and a few additional overhead costs. 'It would have been difficult to achieve our objectives without the funding because it enabled research 'space' in an industrial setting and gave us the time to experience each other’s approach,' says Bowman.