The steps necessary to generate synthetic data with Ana are described by a graph. A graph is a flow-based program that is executed by an application called a channel. The executable elements in the graph are called nodes.

The nodes in a channel are implemented as Python classes and are stored in Python packages. A package contains nodes and support libraries that have related functionality. A channel can use nodes from multiple packages.

The nodes in a package may require static support data. This data is stored as files in a virtual container called a volume. A package can make use of multiple volumes. For more see Package Volumes .

The following diagram shows the relationship between channels, packages and volumes.

Example use case

A computer vision engineer (CVE) wants to train a machine learning algorithm that will process low Earth orbit satellite imagery and automatically count the number of cars in a parking lot. They will train the algorithm on synthetic data which consists of thousands of overhead RGB images of parking lots. These images will contain a variety of automobile types, parking lot configurations, and distractor objects such as trees and street lights, all viewed from an overhead angle.

To support this in Ana, a channel called ‘cars_in_parking_lots’ is created. This channel will allow the CVE to create graphs that generate the overhead images they need. The nodes for the channel are drawn from a Python package called ‘satrgb’ that provides basic capabilities such as placing the objects of interest in the scene, setting the sun angle, rendering the image from a simulated RGB camera, etc. Some of these nodes require static data such as 3D models of cars. This support data is provided as blender files stored on a volume called ‘satrgb_data’.

The following diagram shows how this channel is set up.

Channel Execution

Once the channel components are linked together, the user creates a graph that describes how images are to be generated. This graph file is then run through an interpreter script which executes the appropriate channel node code to generate the images and other output data.