Senior Technical Producer Torfi Frans Olafsson has noticed a shift in interest among professional digital artists and animators toward games. "Back in the day, other people I knew went into games graphics because they hoped one day they would get into ILM [Industrial Light & Magic] or Pacific Graphics; that they would work in the special effects industry... but with the advent of the incredibly powerful GPUs that Nvidia and ATI are making and the incredible stuff that's happening in real-time graphics, I'm seeing more and more people coming from film and television and into games... because that's where the exciting horizons are."
Torfi introduced Chris Doran, founder and CEO of Geomerics, a company whose first product - Enlighten - creates real-time radiosity (basically, how a light source bounces off of surfaces to illuminate other objects - think of the sun illuminating the moon which casts a trail of light on a moonlit ocean, or how a change of paint color changes the feel of a room even in low light) for computer graphics. Other games are using Enlighten, but EVE Online's Walking in Stations project will be the first project to launch with Enlighten fully integrated.
Doran explained that Geomerics's goal with Enlighten was to offer game developers the same set of color and lighting tools that cinematographers take for granted. Using the first Matrix film as an example, he demonstrated that in-matrix sequences had an otherworldly green tone whereas outside the matrix, harsh lighting and burnt-in colors gave you the feeling of a nightmarish realism. "It's amazing how much more immersive it makes the experience if you get these details right," Doran stated.
He then showed two clips from two movies, Alien and Blade Runner, demonstrating how smoke and dynamic lighting helped turn a dreary, rundown set into a mood-altering experience.
Unfortunately we weren't able to see an Enlighten-enabled demo of WIS, but Doran offered a real-time rendered look (on a laptop, no less) at the Enlighten engine in this demo video. The Morracan themes of the first demo gave way to something slightly more sci-fi in our second look at the engine, and Doran demonstrated how game artists can change and evaluate lighting effects on the fly rather than waiting for a lengthy render process to complete with each change.
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