This articles describes the lighting rig I use when doing such tiny computer graphics experiments with landscapes. It’s basically made of 3 or 4 directional lights, one shadow, some (fake or screen space) ambient occlusion, and a fog layer. These few elements tend to behave nicely and even look fotoreal-ish if balanced properly.
Setting up lights is not an easy task, so this article is a very welcomed insight. I especially like the trick of using an opposite directional light to fake global illumination. I also very much agree on using actual fill lights. Constant ambient alone is not enough, as you lose any sense of volume in the shadowed parts.
I am not too fond of the shadow penumbra trick though, which he described previously already. I must admit it indeed gives a warm look, but it doesn’t make any physical sense. So I suspect this should rather belong to the tone mapping part of the rendering, just like the square root he used to apply to the diffuse fall-off really was really working around the lack of gamma correction.
The recommendation to keep albedo near 0.2 is an interesting one. Indeed, your typical rock and grass albedo is nowhere near the albedo of snow (a quick look at Wikipedia gives this comparison chart). But if it is stored in a texture in a typical rendering pipeline, the question of precision lingers. I wonder how big game studios typically address this.
The Real Time Live! program looks very nice too, and it is good to see at least two demoscene related works will be presented there (the community GLSL tool ShaderToy by Beautypi, and some experiment by Still with a LEAP Motion controller on their production, Square).
Lastly, we had some awesome news yesterday, when we were told our last released demoscene production, F – Felix’s workshop, has been selected to be shown as part of the Real-Time Live! demoscene reel event.
Released last year at Revision and ranking 2nd in its category, Felix’s workshop is a 64k intro: a real-time animation fitting entirely (music, meshes, textures…) within a 64kB binary file meant to run on a consumer level PC with a vanilla Windows and up to date drivers.
This is the third day at Revision, and my contribution this year is the talk I gave yesterday. Unlike last year, this seminar is not technical at all but focused on the design aspect and, to some extent, how it relates to the technical one. The context is demomaking, but many ideas are still valid in other media.
There were some issues with the recording unfortunately, which means some elements are missing (you will notice some blanks at the beginning). In particular after 5mn, there is an important point which was completely cut out. The text was:
Throwing a new technique at whatever you’re doing is not going to make it any better. It’s only going to change what you can achieve. There are two sides of image creation: the technical one and the artistic one. Different techniques allow to do different things, and the more techniques you master, the better you understand what you can and cannot do with them, and how to do it. Technique becomes a tool that changes how you can express yourself.
Last year I gave a talk at Revision in which I summed up some of the things I had been gathering on light shading.
This year too I will be attending Revision, in Saarbrücken, Germany, and will give a talk about light again. I will present some of the new stuff I learned. This time the topic is going to be focused on the use of light from a design perspective, in particular in the context of demo-making. It will also be an opportunity to improve on the things I wasn’t happy with regarding the performance: hopefully a better diction, flow and construction.
This is a long due post, but I have been busy recently and couldn’t take the time to write a proper party report. Later being better than later, here are a few words about the third edition of the Japanese demoparty, Tokyo Demo Fest, which took place in the center of Tokyo a month ago.
Jade, by Offwhite, winner of the graphics competition at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013
This party is still very young. When the first edition was launched, it was a one day only event, had under 50 visitors, and I understand it took place in what seemed to be a meeting room they rented. The demoscene culture is something very little heard about in Japan, so kudos to these enthusiasts for organizing it. I wasn’t part of the team yet, and joined them a few months later, with the hope I could bring a European point of view and some of the experience from organizing Prologin for eight years (a French thing, most likely you’ve never heard of it; anyway it has a few points in common with demoparty).
The next edition was organized in a club in Akihabara which, while being way too narrow and not suited for coding sessions, certainly allowed to have a better party feeling than a cold meeting room. Around 80 visitors attended.
Étude des fluides, by Caty Olive, as part of the exhibition for the Mois du numérique
Then we went onward to the 2013 edition, with more experience and more expectations. And for some reason, many things went very well. The invitation intro, released at Function, won the PC 64k Intro Competition. Various sponsors supported us, including last minutes ones, securing us both on money and equipment. We met with the Institut français de Tokyo (a public funded cultural institution) and agreed on organizing the party in their buildings, as part of their event “Le mois du numérique” (“The Digital Month”, which had Éric Chahi as a guest star by the way). Suddenly, Tokyo Demo Fest had grown up from a nascent demoparty wannabe, to a full featured demoparty, with a warm party place wide enough for over a hundred visitors, seats and tables, real equipment (audio, video, light, network…) and other fancy stuff like an actual theater room for projections and seminars.
Demoshow in the theater at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013
But then there was one problem left that wouldn’t be a matter of infrastructure: the mood. Would the audience participate? Would we have a real party? From my European point of view, it seems to me that Japanese people have a very hard time being spontaneous, and I understand it is somehow considered inappropriate in the Japanese society to openly show your emotions. They would watch a competition staying quiet and silent, only to give a contrived applause at the end, light years away from what we may experience in Europe, with people shouting and whistling on every bit they like. How to get this to work here was the big question, and the Japanese organizers who had attended other demoparties and experienced this uplifting feeling of being part of a crowd enjoying the event, were wondering too.
Party hall at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013
Well, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if it’s a matter of reaching a critical mass, the opening icebreaker talk by Kioku (the lead organizer), the party place, the productions, or because we had many western visitors who by their behavior became the sparkle that would ignite the fire, but the atmosphere we had was a complete blast. That was it: Tokyo Demo Fest was now a solid demoparty, a mix of Japanese and European spirit that worked. I invite you to read this party report by Setsuko Hyodo for a more in-depth description.
Group photo with Mickey from Israel (far left), Eddie Lee (right) and Chibi-tech (far right)
Finally, on top of the cupcake, was the cherry. If you ever attended a small demoparty, you probably know the level of the releases is not going to be outstanding. Let’s face it, as fun as competitions are in such parties, you can consider yourself very lucky if you get anything, say, worth watching for people who did not attend. So how lucky exactly are we supposed to consider ourselves when we had for example a demo like Artifacts by IllogicTree (winner of the demo competition, and given how it was received outside the party, it is a good bet to say it is going to be one of the best demos of 2013), an artwork like Jade by Offwhite or a music video like ATOM – Galaxy Man by In-Sect?
Back in 2009, Iñigo Quilez was leaving everyone in awe by releasing the milestone 4kB intro, Elevated, in cooperation with the group TBC. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece, watch it, and keep in mind this was generated from only 4096 bytes worth of data (just the text of this article is already more than a third of that).
After that, news were that he was hired by Pixar, and besides some in progress screenshots from time to time and some live coding experiments, not much was heard from him.
Then a couple of months ago this interview was published, and more recently this praising article of CGW, where we could read he had been in charge of the vegetation rendering in Pixar’s Brave. Needless to say, many people were looking forward to seeing what he would do next, especially in the real-time domain.
Today the group he’s part of, BeautyPi, which seems to be focusing on interactive animations (they presented their work earlier this year at SIGGRAPH), has published the following video. Being a showcase of their last experiments, it is not entertaining like an animation, a clip or a demo are. You could even say it’s boring. But it is visually very impressive, both technically and artistically. Although this is some real-time material, the quality is not that far from movie standards. Regarding the interaction, I am suspecting they are only scratching the surface and they may come up with some very interesting things. What these folks are doing is definitely worth following.