We’re starting to see more and more Mac Pros land in the hands of early orderers and as part of that, we’ve also been hearing some reports on how things are panning out. But few of the people speaking up are the kinds of users that will make the best use of such a machine. But one British animation house has spoken out after Apple gave it early access to a mid-range machine.

Lunar Animation had been using iMac Pro machines in their animation pipeline after having given up on the trash can Mac Pro.

But even with the iMac Pro machines, the animation firm used couldn’t do the job.

One of the immediate things we noticed as soon as we began the animation stage on an iMac Pro, is that we were struggling to get all of the assets into a scene with all of their high-resolution texture maps without running out of Graphics RAM.

Apple apparently gave Lunar Animation access to a mid-range Mac Pro ahead of its release and it turns out it all happened at just the right time, too with the outfit having been tasked with working on the new Jumanji movie.

The timing of receiving the machine couldn’t have been better as the studio was just about to begin work on the new Jumanji movie, JUMANJI THE NEXT LEVEL. We were tasked to create the “Main on Ends” (MOE), which is essentially the end animated credits for the movie.

[…]

The project had to be photorealistic, and there were 28 unique panels for the credits, with each panel featuring at least one prop related to the movie. This was spread across a two-minute sequence.

That machine that they were given is what Apple calls mid-range, but it’s certainly no slouch by any normal standards. And it even included an Apple Pro Display XDR, too.

  • 3.2 GHz 16‑core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.4 GHz
  • 192 GB (6x32GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • Two Radeon Pro Vega II with 32 GB of HBM2 memory each
  • 4TB SSD storage
  • Apple Afterburner card
  • Pro Display XDR

And as you might imagine, things certainly improved.

With the texture issues we were encountering on the iMac Pro, we opened the same scene on the Mac Pro and all of the textures loaded up completely fine. This makes sense, as there is double the graphics memory for textures (32 GB instead of 16 GB). We were then surprised to see that it was playing back in real time without pre-caching, because even with clamped textures on the iMac Pro, we weren’t getting a consistent 24 frames-per-second during playback.

We then unlocked the 24 frames-per-second cap on the playback and got speeds of up to 134 frames-per-second. This allowed us to review, change, and preview everything at lightning speed avoiding the need to create proxy textures and models, and we were able to work with the content directly.

As an example of that, one task reportedly took 21 minutes on the 10-core iMac Pro that was being used. That time was slashed to just 5 minutes on the Mac Pro.

When we say that the Mac Pro is meant for a very specific group of people in a few specific situations, this is absolutely what we mean.

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