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Yining Karl Li — Senior Software Engineer, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Versatile and talented software engineer Yining Karl Li has taken an unconventional but successful approach to his career. He sideloaded a graphics degree onto his business degree and he was inspired to create his own renderer, Takua, by Alex Roman's "The Third and The Seventh" and V-Ray's rendering quality.

He's also made leaps and bounds with the development of Disney's in-house renderer, Hyperion. Used to deliver large-scale environments for Big Hero 6, Moana, Zootopia and the upcoming Raya and the Last Dragon, Hyperion sets itself apart with a breadth-first rendering approach, similar to the techniques used by V-Ray GPU. Karl discusses the intricacies of production rendering on increasingly powerful hardware, as well as the future of real-time and ray-traced rendering.


Yining Karl Li’s official site >

Yining Karl Li (@yiningkarlli) on Twitter >

Yining Karl Li's research works on ResearchGate

Paper on the Design And Evolution Of Disney’s Hyperion Renderer >


04:09 Karl’s CG beginnings and education

12:29 Dreamworks and Pixar internships, plus writing a renderer

19:31 Research at Cornell with Jaroslav Křivánek

25:29 Joining the Hyperion team at Disney

30:44 What makes Hyperion different from other renderers

40:09 The difference between a megakernal and a multikernal

46:09 The evolution of Hyperion’s architecture

57:30 New CPU designs and parallelism

1:02:48 Data-oriented design

1:08:22 Working from home

About the author

Christopher Nichols

Chris is a CG industry veteran and Director of Chaos Labs. He can also be heard regularly as the host of the CG Garage podcast which attracts 20,000 weekly listeners. With a background in both VFX and Design, Chris has worked for Gensler, Digital Domain, Imageworks and Method Studios. His credits include Maleficent, Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.

Originally published: November 23, 2020.
© Škoda Design

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