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Graphics Software

More Realistic Rendered Flesh 102

The Renderman writes "Check out this ubercool new rendering technique for skin from the guys who invented photon mapping. They also have several animations to demonstrate the technique - all rendered using Linux :) It makes those faces in Final Fantasy look like plastic. This technology should make the actors in Hollywood more nervous than what they saw in FF." The examples prove that human skin needs more blemishes. Without zits, pimples, moles, or scars, the skin still looks fake, it is definitely a cool step forward.
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More Realistic Rendered Flesh

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Really? I'm pretty sure I could write a program to churn out most of the crap Hollywood tries to pass off as filmmaking. Just combine your basic cut & paste movie script with a large dictionary, mad-libs style, and you're set.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not sure this is particularly different from realsoft's [] 3D procedural texturing (called "materials" in Real3D-speak) - Realsoft 3D is a solid modelling raytracer (rahter than the more common surface modellers) (i.e. does realistc refraction etc - the light beams go "through" all translucent objects in the scene, obeying approximations to physical laws as they go), and you could achieve a similar effect just by using a procedure that varies the transmissivity, hue (64 bit per channel is the norm in Real3D) and reflectivity of the "skin" with increasing depth. I'm pretty sure it's already been done.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Stanford's server seems to be down? Try instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The servers can handle it fine, but when a single subdomain suddenly leaps to a constant 25Mbps load to IPs all over the internet, nearly all from one machine, it LOOKS like a DoS attempt or somesuch. The campus admins shut down the graphics domain in case it was a hack. "Pretty embarrassing".... The machine can handle it (SGI Origin 2000), and the pipes can DEFINITELY handle it. The problem is not web hits, but the fact that that jackass Taco linked 10mb MOVIES from the FRONT PAGE! Going from 100kbps avg to 25mbps in like 5 minutes really looks suspicious.... And since it was a Sunday in the summer, there isn't a full staff to be sure it wasn't a hack attempt.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sigh. Please read the explanation here [].
  • One thing that I don't see anyone giving a solution to it - are the eyes - you play around the eyes, adding wrinkles, try to make the image look happy, sad, angry - but the eyes themselves looks like a dead person's eyes...

  • I'm probably not in the majority, but I don't like real actors. When I see people on the screen, I know they have lives outside of this movie; people are surely talking about who they're dating, what kind of house they own, etc.

    With CG characters, you do have human voices, but it's easier to get immersed in the movie because they don't exist outside, in our world. It's closer for me to reading books.
  • It's easy to condemn American anti-intellectualism


  • There are, of course, tons of examples of existing movies where there's a big difference between the what appears on the screen and the actor behind the character: animation, the same actor playing multiple characters, different actors doing the voice and the body for the same character, etc.

    On the other hand, there's still the major problem of creating affect: it's very difficult to draw or paint or model a person displaying a certain emotion without working from a real person, and doing the voice is at least as hard (besides the fact that speech synthesis is not as good as rendering yet).

    I suspect that, even for an entirely CG movie, the studio would want human actors for all of the parts, so that the animators could see how each character's face looks when they are doing what the script says.

    Furthermore, there's a lot more to each character than what's in the script; the actor (and director) determine what the character is thinking and feeling while doing the predetermined actions. It's essentially the Turing Test: convince an audience that you really are a person in a certain situation. Neither a computer, nor even a group of graphics researchers are going to be able to get into the roles that way any time soon.

    This could, of course, mean that an actor's appearence makes very little difference; a skillful actor could play a character with no physical resemblence if the task involved only showing a graphics team what the necessary emotions look like.
  • This reply is not really accurate. Neither the $3000 card or the $200 card do the algorithim.

    The hardware manufacturers need to have a reason to do this algorithim (or do the compute-expensive portion of it) and (if it is also technically possible) you will see it.

    Almost everything the cards does is algoirthims invented 30 years ago. The clever engineering is getting them to run fast and to correctly select a subset of the possible algorithims to implement. There are also hundreds of graphics algorithims invented 30 years ago that are *not* on any hardware card.

  • Pixel shaders are equivalent to RenderMan shaders (though obviously many orders of magnitude faster since they are in hardware, and it can be assummed that they are somewhat less powerful because of this as well). You can do a lot, but believe me you cannot magically generate input that is not there!

    If somebody invents a new algorithim that uses various derivatives of the normals and surface position to produce some new lighting effect, they can be implemented in the pixel shaders. But if the algorithim requires volumetric information that is an integral of all the surrounding surface points, the information is not there, because the hardware is not producing it!

    Yea, you can use some pixel shaders to index a 3-D volume that may be pregenerated by this algorithim, and this is "faster". But that is equivalent to pre-rendered radiosity being loaded into texture maps, most people do not consider that "hardware radiosity", and I don't think this pixel shader solution would be considered "hardware photon mapping".

  • BMRT - Pixar's rendering software = $0.00
    To be fair, BMRT [] is Exluna []'s rendering software. Pixar []'s substantially more expensive rendering software is Pixar's Renderman [] (formerly known as PhotoRealistic Renderman).
  • ...It makes those faces in Final Fantasy look like plastic.

    I love it when uninformed idiots spout shit like this. "Ooh! I haven't seen the movie yet, but they're CG people! They have to look plastic! All CG people look fake."

    Have a look at this link [], and pick through the process of creating the characters. Then try to say they look like plastic.

    I applaud the work of the Final Fantasy CG people. All of them. Their characters are the most realistic performers (outside of real actors) to ever hit the screen.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • by Croaker ( 10633 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @05:28AM (#2185281)
    The *concept* of CG actors may leave people cold on the face of it. But the reality of seeing those digital actors in an actual context... engage the viewer in a compelling story, and he or she will not be paying attention to whether the actor is digital, flesh and bone, or hand drawn.

    I bet if you asked these same people about using technology to revive, say, John F. Kennedy from the grave to appear in a movie, they would have also been dubious. But that didn't stop Forrest Gump from being a success, mostly because of that technology. In the context of the film, it made sense and looked fairly natural.

    Where digital actors will make an impact first (and have already been making an impact) are background crowd scenes and walk-ons. With some motion capture equipment, a few actors can become a huge crowd that does exactly what the director tells them, every time. The A-list stars may not be threatened, but I suspect people who make some money on the side by being extras will be seeing less work. I also suspect stunt people will be seeing less work as well. Why risk a real human life by having them jump off a building, when you can get a digital actor to jump and come to a splattery end without anyone being hurt?

    But I do think eventually that audince's suspension of disbelief will apply when they are presented with a life-like character in a compelling plot... something that is a bit more than a technology demo that the current crop of realistic digital actors are now.
  • Maybe they don't seem AS plactic animated, but they definately look plastic in stills.

    Pick up last months Maxim with the pullout. The main female character is posed in standard Maxim garb. I took one look at it and thought it wasn't real. And this was with the standard glossy high quality paper that us men like to see our half nekkid women in.

    Nevermind, this is probably another geek that is upset that someone pissed on his wet dream..

  • not a chance, and a really long time off.

    The horsepower needed to do this will not show up in your consumer level video cards ($200-$500 is consumer level... We use $3000.00 - $6000.00 video cards in the video production industry) for a really really long time.

    Hell it isnt here yet for the multi-thousand dollar cards, so when it shows up here, expect about 3-4 years after that to get your hands on it.

    Basically, dont wait for it dont even look for it. Just expect sometime in the next 10 years to look at a new video card and say "cool!"
  • Ahem, you can do real motion picture as an affordable hobby right now.

    BMRT - Pixar's rendering software = $0.00
    Linux Cluster Render Farm = $1000.00 (cheapie, can probably get for free as older pentiums)
    Linux Non linear video editor - Broadcast2000 = $0.00

    Nice dual processor Linux box $2000.00
    DV video cam and hardware to get it in the linux box $1500.00

    $4500.00 and Voila you have a complete system less some pre-purchased effects (Like Cult-effects for after effects) everything short of the 35mm film printer is there and ready for you.

    Now the only thing is needed is talent and skill.... that you cant buy.
  • At first glance, I was thought this was a Tripping The Rift [] reference.

  • Well I've never seen it done in Real3D. That's not to say it hasn't been. Do you have any evidence? I'm not dissing Real3D (in fact, I'm a long time fan, since 1.4 on the Amiga), but it has its limits, although anisotropic texturing is within its capabilities, I've only ever seen it used for "oily brushed metal" effects.

    On the plus side, you can now get Real3D on linux! There's a minimal free download version, and a $300 beta version ( :-( )
  • I'd have to differ with you there.

    True solid modelling models solids. While marketers might abuse the term, people at SIGGRAPH tend not to. What you describe is "constructive solid geometry" (CSG), which may be used by both solid and surface modellers.

    The transmissivity is a measure of how much a solid transmits incident light through it. It's mathematically related to the reflectance, so I'm not quite sure what the AC meant. chances are if you vary one you vary the other, as you (essentially) point out in your final line. See the lighting design knowledgebase [].

    wave mechanics dictates the transmissivity, reflectance, index of refraction, etc. properties of a particular medium - and they may be different for different frequencies of light (obviously, otherwise everything would be the same colour...).

    The first AC has at least used Real3D before, you,however, seem to be coming from an exclusively surface modelling background...
  • I've got to wonder, though, if a CG character will ever become so popular that it will end up in other CG movies completely unrelated to the first one it appeared in.

    It's already happened, although not due to the popularity of the character as such.

    Pixar did a short film about an old guy playing a chess match with himself ("Gerry's Game"? I don't remember the exact title) which was shown along with "A Bug's Life". They re-used that "actor" as the toy restoration artist in "Toy Story 2".

    Building even digital models is not a cheap process, they reuse them where possible. (Pixar also used the ravine from "A Bug's Life", redressed somewhat, as part of the planet of Zurg's fortress for the Buzz Lightyear opening sequence for "Toy Story 2", and many of the background objects in "Toy Story" had been in earlier Pixar shorts -- the Luxo lamp, for an obvious example.)
  • what anime are you watching? i've never once seen a anime render a character whos age is less than 18 nude. its its ignorant people like you that give anime a bad name. the reason some many people watch it is because of the fact that unlike american cartoons, it has plot.
  • by pelrun ( 25021 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @05:13AM (#2185290)
    If that were the case, then how come animation does so well? Even series/movies from american studios which tend not to have the dramatic range of anime.

    I know *I* have been deeply affected by some of the anime I have watched, and I know many other people that have as well.

    Secondly - your basic assumption is faulty. Even with animated works (cel or cg) there is a real person behind each character. Because whilst the image may be completely fake, the VOICES are not.

    Now, given the current speech synthesis technology, if a series was voiced using it I *would* be put off. Because the voices have just as big an effect on the emotional impact of a show as the visuals. Hell, I think they have more. Many a fantastic anime series/movie has been ruined by a pathetic english dub cast.

    And there is another medium for stories that has NO dependence on live people for the telling - BOOKS. By your reasoning books must be the most boring things in the world, because by definition all the characters in them are entirely fictional. And if none of the people you talked to are interested in books, they are hardly a representative sample, are they?
  • Christ you don't even see Bambi's mother getting shot, it's implied.

    Now if you want to see real tears at an animated movie you go see Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka) [].

    Bring a handkerchief. Or three.
  • Take a look at the bookshelf in Andy's room in Toy Story. I just about hit the floor laughing at the titles, which are references to Pixar's previous shorts, including Red's Dream and Luxo, Jr., IIRC.

    Still, I think the Binford tool box falling down off the table was one of the best inside jokes in the movie - I wonder if Tim Allen asked for that?

    The animation was great, but I was so disappointed that Disney/Pixar had to make the story so dark and unsuitable for young children that I've never seen the sequel.
  • For me, the issue is what anime tries to be vs. what CG tries to be. I loved Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and I love pretty much any anime. I can't stand CG, though, because when they try to make it look real, it fails. The lighting is wrong (oh so wrong), the textures don't work, and there is something not right with the movement. Animated CG that doesn't try to blend is a lot easier to watch, imho. There isn't the same jarring, disconcerting moment of disconnect where the person/dinosaur/effect tries to interact with the non-CG environment. Example - Blade, the scene at the very end where there is CG blood. Or Kennedy's lips in Forrest Gump. Or Jar Jar Binks (Lucas owes everyone $7 for that crime against moviegoers) The disconnect between what you know you should be seeing and what the CG can do tears you out of the moment, and breaks your suspension of disbelief. With all an all animated (cel or CG) movie, you don't have those moments of disconnect. Ditto in a movie with no CG (or minimized/backgrounded CG, such as the fleets in any of the Star Wars re-releases).

  • That said, I and some friends are working on a short for next years Gathering LAN, and you can do a lot with 3DS MAX, a Pinnacle DC2000 and a good SVHS VCR. But rendering times suck :)

    You think rendering times suck now? In 1992, I managed a graphics lab, where about 30 students did a bunch of short animations... Each pair of students allowed 450 frames each (15 seconds at full speed). The rendering took MONTHS of CPU time. Our render farm was a set of RS-6000s and SGIs that were near the commercial state of the art at the time (total of about 12 machines worth about $1M, retail). all of that for what ended up being less than 10 minutes of video.

    The file server had a 1GB disk (5/25" full-height SCSI drive) dedicated to the graphics frames... As stuff got printed to laser disk, it was dumped onto an 8MM tape to make room for the rest.

    Not that I'm complaining.. It was fun and interesting at the time we did it. We were pushing what was possible with the available tech, and I still enjoy watching the resulting videos, from time to time.

  • I think that part of what has happened is that the pipeline between state of the art work station graphics and desktop, which used to be about 3 years, has all but disappeared, as the consumer market has gotten to the point of being willing to play with the state of the art.

    Because anything fast enough to be state of the art has to be small enough to fit on one die, if you're gonna make ten VSLI chips, you might as well make ten thousand, and sell them on the retail market. Most of the cost is in making the master..

    Anyone in the hardware end of things to support/refute this thesis?

  • Look at the capabilities of "pixel shaders" before you assume hardware manufacturers _need_ to do the algorithm. Pixel shaders provide the equivelant of microcode level access to the innermost aspects of the rendering pipeline. This may already be possible today with the G3. Ask me in a week... :) Next generation game engines will be doing this.
  • Having seen the movie twice, I'd say the part that looks the worst is the zoom in ok Aki's eye during dream sequences.

    Although (James wood character) is much better in this regard, compare Aki's eye to the eyes in the desktop backgrounds from the Alias|Wavefront [] site.

  • Have you written a polite note explaining this to them? It generally works for me.

  • by droob ( 71208 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @07:41AM (#2185299) Homepage
    My problem with the characters in FF wasn't the texture of their skin. Every one of them (except the cops in mecha suits) moved like a Disney animatronic figure. This is why many cartoon characters can seem very realistic: many cel animators concentrate on the movement and articulation of the bodies, rather than detail of surfaces. When will the CG industry learn that detail is much, much less important than giving your actors believable jaw movement?
  • > "And if none of the people you talked to are interested in books, they are hardly a representative sample, are they?"

    > For all of those I just offended, 50% of you can bug off because you elected the best repersentation of your inherent ignorance to lead/repersent your country

    This is especially funny if you consider how that guy got elected. Apparently Merkins not only cannot read, but they can't even be trusted to punch a hole into a ballot at the correct place...

  • The main reason humans don't need to worry is that we will always need them to do the voices, so animation will always be an "in addition to" as opposed to "instead of" expense-wise. Animation might look really cool, but for animation you will have to hire the actor AND the cgi animator, so regardless of how realistic it looks, the benefits are limited. It will be great for special effects, but I don't think it will ever fully replace humans, there's just no reason for it to.

  • What are you talking about??
    stop this nonsense
  • Ohmygod, somebody please mod this up. This is hysterical. I laughed untill I cried.:-)

    Nicely done!

  • the first time i saw the preview on TV, i thought they were real actors. i wasn't really paying much attention, and didn't think anything of it. now, this comes along... i wonder how much better it'd look in movie animations.
  • many cel animators concentrate on the movement and articulation of the bodies, rather than detail of surfaces

    This is why I like Pixar... they grok this. While they do invest heavily in rendering technology and tools development, there is a lot of pure animation talent at Pixar.

    • Intense 3D Wildcat 4000: [] "Performance up to 2.6 million triangles per second (3D, Z-buffered, 25 pixel, Gouraud shaded)."
    • GeForce 3: [] "57 million triangles per second"

    I think that exaggerates the GEforce 3's performance, which, realistically, is about half that, but still, that's a big ratio. Why is Wildcat only at 2.7 million triangles per second? That's way too low today.

    NVidia had a "pro version" (called Quadro) and a "gamer version" (called GeForce) of each product line, with the gamer version crippled in some way. (The difference was a jumper change read by the driver.) With the GeForce 3, there's a "Quadro DCC", with dual-head output, but the performance is about the same as with the GEforce 3. It seems to be mostly a branding thing; the boards are sold through 3DS Max dealers only.

    The low end has eaten the high end.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @09:13AM (#2185308) Homepage
    The horsepower needed to do this will not show up in your consumer level video cards ($200-$500 is consumer level... We use $3000.00 - $6000.00 video cards in the video production industry) for a really really long time.

    I have one of those $3000 cards from a few years ago, and the new Nvidia GEForce 3, at $250, is better. In fact, right now it's hard to spend $3000 on a graphics board and get something significantly better than the consumer products, because the high-end graphics companies are money starved (or gone) and aren't keeping up.

    This photon rendering may be doable like radiosity [] - render the radiosity map once, then view from different angles. This allows real-time walk-throughs of static scenes.

  • And a fair number of 'em couldn't even be troubled to prove they were eligible to vote.

    Besides, finding the right hole in a Votomatic card can be really tough when you're trying to punch ten or more of them at once. It works much better when you put them in the machine one at a time, but that takes too have to guess how many votes your candidate will need based on precincts that have already reported, and waiting for those reports seriously cuts into the time you have to get those bogus ballots down to the county election board. It really complicates things when you miscalculate and the lawyers have to come in and fix the election for you.

    Oh, by the way: <THPFPT!>

  • by mauddib~ ( 126018 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @07:11AM (#2185310) Homepage
    If you had read the article, Commander, you had found out that this new technology in rendering is based on subsurface scattering.

    Instead of assuming that light will scatter to all places on top of the surface it also scatters inside the material.

    This is, because not all materials are non-translucent. For example: milk looks as a non-translucent white, but a very tiny drop of milk is actually translucent.

    The same goes for skin, Guinness and snow. By assuming that the light will not scatter back at the same place as the light impacts the material, but also makes a little travel inside the material, the overal image looks much more confincing.

    Please read before commenting, Taco :]
  • Check out this ubercool new rendering technique for skin

    That sounds like something you'd hear on the food network. Maybe an Extreme Cuisine cannibal special.
  • Check out: df /

    The picture on the right has more realistic skin not because of the blemishes, but because it's more well "blended", a hint of skin oils I guess. The one on the left looks like dry plaster.

    I suspect most people have an instinctive way of judging skin. e.g. healthy skin looks good to us. The flipside is that most people don't know what they are looking for or see when they judge realism - it's instinctive.

  • Well, this is a good thing, you know, since it allows for movies that do really cool things without the limitations of human actors. However, it does lead to a future wher we are robbed of human actors in the first place. Rummages through SF library. Lesse, I got a Poul Anderson, some Heinlein, a little Asimov... coupla Kubrics, a nice Piers Anthony or three.... Read and think, people, read and think!

    If the subject is "all Greek to you", good! Take a classical language today!
    Live life to the point of tears
  • >> [Can't access site with Mozilla]
    >> -- UberLame
    > Have you written a polite note explaining this to them?
    > -- Mike "Nailer"

    Uber, tell them that their target audience: geeks, prefer the latest open source browsers, and that it would be a good idea to have a plain XHTML/CSS version of their site with no javascript/pop ups.

    I am Jack's shame in admitting to sometimes using IE: Blue bug eyes [], glassy bug-eyed [], dead brown [].
    mrBlond (I don't email from Malaysia)

  • ... because I saw the movie and all the characters definitely had facial blemishes. That's one of the things that impressed me about the graphics, not even the heroine had a flawless complexion.
  • Even if Gore was the only one who stood to gain anything, Bush stood to loose alot. While he personally probably didn't have anything to do with vote counting, his less scrupious supporters realized that Gores supporters, who had nothing to loose by stuffing boxes probably would, so they would have to do the same to maintain the advantage.

    I personally feel that the results fell below the noise floor (which is no doubt higher than they think) and flipping a fair coin would have been a better way to decide in Florida.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter any more, nobody important is likely to loose a job over it and Bush was made president. We should take it as a lesson to improve voting practices.
  • In the movie, the computer graphics technology develops to the point to where actors are unnecessary. They can render perfect models of actors. Therefore, in order to have a monopoly, they start killing off all the "perfect" actors and actresses. One laughable aspect was that they rendered the actors over a real background. A camera would pan across an empty set, then in post production they would insert computer generated actors. The obvious flaw is that you could render the background set much easier than the actors themselves.

    It was also silly that they had to start with 'perfect' actors to begin with. With that technology, they could have turned a scan of Rosie O'Donnell into Sharon Stone (ok, this is Slashdot. Natalie Portman), assuming they needed scans of real humans at all. Guess they needed some bogus plot premise like that to have a story, though. (I want one of those 'flasher' thingys the bad guys had that put people into a stupor.)

  • I doubt this will replace actors for a real long time, if ever....
    It can take as little as three weeks or less to complete a film shoot for your "typical" actionless small to medium budget flick with "a" and "b" teams, plus a couple of months to edit. How long would it take for artists to animate the same film, 2-3 years?
    OK, take into account extreme advancments in animation techniques, in ten years it'll probably be down to six months.
    Problem is, you still got to pay for actors to do the voices (famous ones), render farms, script writers, directors, special effects directors, cgi directors, sooper special effects directors, artists, artists, artists, sound post production (which will be much more expensive due to lack of location "atmospheric" sound) etc. etc...
    Another problem is that most of the current crop of directors and more importantly producers can't comprehend what it takes to make a totally cgi flick, so they're gonna be really shy of it for a long time, especially when many of them were/are actors and DOPs...
    And the public can probably only take a limited number of such films before getting bored or
  • There was an article a while back about someone using a game engine as a basis for the production of a motion picture. The idea was that you could drive down the cost of motion picture production into something that almost anyone could do as a serious hobby, yet still produce features, etc. So this is another small step in that direction.

    The first, obvious application aside from games is going to be about ten years from now, when, in conjunction with your AI Design program, you can program your own porn movies on your own workstation using avatars of your fav celebrities. Insert yourself into the movie, maybe with the body of a body builder. Or even better, a novelty program sold to the consumer where they can insert the avatar and you can interact with the players in the movie, directing the action. You know this is going to be a great busines opportunity for someone, someday. The MPAA and the RIAA are going to freak. (all that unlicense use of celebrity images)

    If anyone is using a workstation by then.

  • It seems that they've replaced the files with small useless ones to avoid being slaughtered by the /. effect. (I'd imagine it would be powerfull with all of us downloading 8 meg movies)
  • "if they know the person is "fake", they can't possibly get emotionally
    involved with their story

    Sounds to me like your friends are more interested in looking at the movie
    rather than the plot - you know, the kind who spend endless hours trying to
    find the one scene where someone's button doesn't match a previous scene...

    Whether a character is "played" by CGI or a human makes little difference in
    the end - I confess to having a little tear in my eye during Shrek for

    And if people cannot get emotionally involved with a CGI character then how
    do you explain the large numbers of slashdot posts re Jar-Jar, hmm?


  • It has already been noted by people in the graphics industry that graphics cards have been undergoing a 100x speed-up over the past 3 years. That blows moore's law away and if the pace keeps up, you will have real time pimples pretty soon.

    -The Weasel of Pixels

  • My problem with the FF characters was that they delivered their lines like stiff amateur actors. In fact, they appeared(for the most part) just like REAL human actors with no talent (and no direction, and no script).

    In that sense, they can already compete with a good portion of Hollywood...

  • Your point about non-computer animation and books is excellent. I think we've all become emotionally attached to various characters from these media.

    But I've also noticed that nobody I've talked to formed any emotional attachment to the characters in Final Fantasy. This can of course happen in regular movies as well (Dungeons and Dragons, for example) due to bad dialog, poor acting, or whatever so that may simply be the explanation for Final Fantasy.

    However, given all the comments I've read about the unconvincing acting of CG characters, I have a theory. Perhaps this all has to do with our *expectations*. If a character looks completely human, then we expect human-quality acting and facial expression. In contrast, if a character looks like a big cartoon ogre, then we only expect cartoon-quality acting. So when Shrek delivers really cool CG acting, we say "impressive", but when we get really cool CG acting in Final Fantasy, it's "unconvincing".

    So, by making the characters look convincingly human, the animators raise the bar on our expectations for the quality of the acting.

    Note that when I use the term "acting" without qualifiers I'm talking about all aspects: voice, body language, facial expression.. It all has to be there.

  • There was a movie called Looker in the mid 1980s. You might still even be able to find it in some rental places.

    In the movie, the computer graphics technology develops to the point to where actors are unnecessary. They can render perfect models of actors. Therefore, in order to have a monopoly, they start killing off all the "perfect" actors and actresses.

    One laughable aspect was that they rendered the actors over a real background. A camera would pan across an empty set, then in post production they would insert computer generated actors. The obvious flaw is that you could render the background set much easier than the actors themselves.
    "Linux is a cancer" -- Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft.
  • Yeah and Renderman can only render... you'll need advanced software like Maya or Softimage, or at least 3DS MAX to pull off animation with decent quality...

    And a rendering cluster for $1000? How long do you think rendering will take on that one?

    That said, I and some friends are working on a short for next years Gathering LAN, and you can do a lot with 3DS MAX, a Pinnacle DC2000 and a good SVHS VCR. But rendering times suck :)
  • What you were seeing in the film were texture maps. You have a set of maps which control the diffuse color of a pixel, how it interacts with diffuse and ambient light, its opacity, specularity, roughness (you can make those blemishes 3D if you want, with a displacement map), and so on. Getting all this right is the job description of a Texture Artist in a 3D shop, and if you're really good and have a lot of time to spend with PhotoSh^h^h^h^H^H^H^HGIMP, the results can be pretty good.

    What this new approach seems to do is model translucency in such a way that you don't have to separately and painstakingly paint in all of these characteristics to make realistic skin. I'm pretty sure that the example has no texture map, or a very simple one...the point is that all the effects are the result of rendering, not texturing. Nice work.
  • 2.1 billion books sold in the U.S. in 1995.

    Gawsh thats a lota door stops, Uncle bawb..

  • I tried to look at the Alias Wavefront link you provided, and found something disturbing. They refuse to let me look at their site with my Mozilla. They try to insist that I downgrade to NS4 or switch to IE. Darn them.
  • I rather suspect that we will need a radically new approach to real time rendering to do it. Real time rendering resorts to all sorts of tricks, and this is something that needs to be simulated. So, we might see it sometime after we see real time raytracers with radiosity, which also expected to be many, many years off..
  • Heck, it isn't even going to show up in the million dollar graphics solutions (SGI Onyx3s) for quite some time, let alone the $3k boards used by consumers.
  • Which $3k card do you have? I've used Wildcat 4000 cards extensively, and there is no way that a Geforce 3 comes close. The GeForce2 came no where near close, and on paper the GF3 isn't so much faster than a GF2 as to have any chance of catching up. And there are many newer and faster Wildcats out since the 4000.
  • 100 times speed up? I'd be hard pressed to say that a Geforce 3 is 100x faster than a TNT, and the TNT is over 3 years old.
  • Actually, I expect that in 10 years, animation times could potentially be shorter than 6 months due to increased simulation usage to get rid of the insignificant details (as opposed to the details that matter like eye expressions). As to voice actors, well, I don't see speech synthesis getting radically better anytime real soon. However, someone was recently telling me that "talkies" are just a fad, and that in 10 years we will all be back to silent films. Viola, no more actor woes.
  • Yes, but this paper was about actually effectively simulating skin rather than faking sub surface scattering by using layers and translucency. This is much more computationally intensive, but ultimately easier to use.
  • In an interview about Shrek, they said that they sorta did subsurface scattering. What they really did was build several polygonal skin layers on top of each other rather than simulate the actual sub surface scattering. I can't get to the site (/. effect probably) to read the actual paper on the new subsurface scattering method to compare it.

    In the current Cinefex issue, they talk about the FF movie. It is said that they actually had the characters looking more realistic, but felt that they needed to tone the realism down because it freaked people out to watch even more realistic characters have less than perfect animation. Actually, the same interview about Shrek mentioned about also said that they toned down the Fiona realism because it didn't stylistically match the rest of the film.
  • The pr0n industry innovates.... Imagine the flexibility of CG characters..... ;-)

  • I've heard from many sources that Fiona was made less realistic to fit in with the rest of the movie.

    However, Sakaguchi has stated in interviews that he wanted to convince his audience that they were watching real actors, and the fact that Square didn't make FF totally convincing was not because they didn't want to, or didn't know how, but because they didn't have the time and money. They've made it clear in interviews and e-mails I've received from Square's shading supervisor, Kevin Bjorke, that they're going to get even closer to photorealism next time.
  • Sounds like hype:

    "We could have done even better, but that would have been too good, and it would have freaked the audience out too much." Yeah, sure.

    Reminds me of the hokey warnings at the beginning of 50's monster movies where they advised people with heart conditions to leave the theaters.

  • Tell that to all the people who cried when Bambi's mother was shot.
  • The fact is that real actors will always be cheaper. To make a convincing digital human takes (currently) about ten people who all get paid at least $40k a year. There are plenty of actors that will work for free...or next to nothing.

    There's no way that a digital actor will ever make economic sense. Even if at some point it is cheaper to make a huge budget action movie all digital the digital actors are still going to need voices...and motion capture...I can't see a day when its cheaper to hire talented artists and animators than a semi-competent actor.

  • "Our new shading model captures the soft appearance of many natural materials such as skin."

    Well, maybe materials such as really thick makeup. Pretty face, but there wasn't any exposed skin. Maybe the next generation rendering model will be able to handle real people's faces.

    "You know, the golf course is the only place he isn't handicapped."

  • Funny, yes. Informative, no. It's a porn joke you moderating genius you.
  • by BIGJIMSLATE ( 314762 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @04:43AM (#2185345)
    What? Zits? Pimples? Moles? Scars? Speak for yourself Commander! My face is smoother than Hillary Rosen's ass, just without the smell. ;)
  • Wow, when it comes to graphics, slashdot is way behind. I read that paper months ago :) Still very cool today. It has stood the test of time :)

  • I bet if you asked these same people about using technology to revive, say, John F. Kennedy from the grave to appear in a movie, they would have also been dubious. But that didn't stop Forrest Gump from being a success, mostly because of that technology.

    Oh, so that's how they did it! Gosh, movie making technology is getting more advanced all the time!

  • has an article on FF graphics which touches on this subject. The squaresoft designers go into modeling flesh and why the skin has to be translucent to allow light to bounce off the blood and blood vessels beneath!

    I can't get to the stanford paper right, but it appears that the squaresoft designers have known about, and used this in FF.

    The article is at []

  • Bambi anyone? People still cry when Bambi's mother is shot and she is obviously not real!

    (I do agree with above poster by the way)
  • if they know the person is "fake", they can't possibly get emotionally involved with their story.

    If that's the case then how do you explain the success of today's movies with the current crop of actors?

  • does stanford block some IP's or is it simply slashdotted? (using some traceroute utility it seems that packets aren't routed to the destined IP)
  • You state that you have talked to people about this. But have these people acually seen a movie with "Idistingishable" CG actors? No they haven't cuz we don't have any yet but lets look at Star Wars for an aexample people became emationally attached to basically muppits "yoda for example" when the time comes that CG actors become common I think that people won't care they will like or dislike the movie or TV show based on the merrits of the show.
    I a related not I saw an interview with the director of FF and he plans on using the female star in another movie in another roll but billed under her screen name. I found that very interseting He is attempting to turn a CG actor into a star in her own right.

  • stuff the graphics - I want something a little more original than a first person shooter in terms of gameplay
  • As I recall, in that article, the potential pornographic uses of improved flesh rendering were emphasized. Let's face it, the porn industry will be some of the first people to deploy this technology large-scale. They pioneered BetaMax, VHS, GIF, JPEG, internet multimedia as a whole, and this too will be lead by the noble pornographers. God bless them, every one!

    USA Intellectual Property Laws: 5 monkeys, 1 hour.
  • by j7953 ( 457666 ) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @09:54AM (#2185355)
    There was an article a while back about someone using a game engine as a basis for the production of a motion picture.

    Oh, you mean Tomb Raider?

  • Okay, I've had enough of the Florida bullshit. After all the recounts, I hardly doubt the election could have been rigged. Afterall, it was Gore who called for most of them, and was the only one who had anything to gain from half punched chads. There was no conspiracy by the republicans to win Florida, and people need to accept that. It's easy to say the election was bullshit because of what happened in Florida, but tell me why and how. And also, people like to complain quite a bit, but they don't do anything, which is the biggest hypocrisy in America today. What I would like to see however, is a president winning by popular vote, or me in office. Also, I'd like to see a more direct input by the people, where we get more power to make decisions - it's just too bad we can't handle/don't want the responsibility. It's a lot easier to complain about stuff when we have less of a say on it.
  • I can imagine the MPAA loosing the sphincter floodgates when you wrote that. ;)
    I agree with you, especially when an actor is in the news recently. All the hype surrounding big-name stars gets distracting at times, and I can't help but carry some predjudices with me when I see some of them. Of course, the same thing could happen to voice actors, and already does in some cases.
  • Pff.. this is a Pink Floyd song and is to be considered as a parody not a racist song.
  • The main reason humans don't need to worry is that we will always need them to do the voices... Steven Hawkings can do it. As if vioce-synthesis will not evolve.
  • 2.1 billion books sold in the U.S. in 1995.

    It's easy to condemn American anti-intellectualism, especially when you are not in command of the facts.

  • 2.1 billion is a lot of books no matter how you slice it.

    As for school literacy rates, well the CIA Factbook says 97% literacy in the U.S. Factor in a lot of Eskimos and whatnot... that's not too bad. It's not Australia's 100%, but then, they have their own problems.

    I am not saying that Americans are a literature-loving lot. I am saying that glibly denouncing 260 million people (130 million if that's the way you want it) out of hand is an easy way to exhibit the lack of intelligence the original poser condemns.

  • Just thinking that parametric model-generating techniques are getting more advanced. How long before the "standard model library" is parametric (so your office-tables can be virtually any shape, for example).

    There are already a few programs to do this with human models, although they are admittedly primitive right now (Poser comes to mind). But remember, whenever a precedent for a technology exists, the technology itself is coming right behind it.

    -- Blore's Razor:
  • How long until we can do these sorts of things in realtime? With the NVIDIA Geforce3's and stuff we should be do something a bit better than what is in average FP games.

  • Cost will certainly be a consideration in the overall production of features, I'm sure. Business is still business, after all.

    As a metric for your prediction, though, I saw a 2-minute short film at the Aspen Film Festival this past Winter. Talking with the man (singular) who created it in its entirety, it took about 2 years to make in his spare time as a graphics artist at Sony Films.

    It definitely looked computer generated, but it was very well done, I must say. There were no Humans rendered, rather trees in a forest anthropomorphised with some Human features.

    My impression is that Hollywood definitely should be quaking in its boots as the technology gets immer closer to allowing John Q. Browser to create his own little movies, all by himself, without rows and rows of artists, writers, key grips, best boys, boom operators, etc., etc., amen.

    I can't wait to see what kind of copy-protection mechanism is employed in rendering software to prevent us from creating our own private models of Iman or Brad Pitt or whomever! :)
  • Speech synthesis is all well and good, but there will always still be some human writing what that character says. I'm pretty sure there will always have to be some human element in anything like this. Sorry.
  • Stanford's servers can't handle a Sunday morning Slashdot crowd... that's really sad. What does all that tuition money pay for? :)
  • Someone still has to write the program to churn out that crap :P

White dwarf seeks red giant for binary relationship.