Friday, March 09, 2007

GDC07 - Thursday

After breakfast at Denny's, I headed to my first presentation this morning. It was by some guys at Nvidia and they talked about the new features in FX Composer 2. It's really amazing that their tool hasn't been released yet considering they were showing FX Composer 2 at last year's GDC. It's going to be a really nice tool, though, and they claim that they'll be releasing the beta within 30 days. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

After that session I worked at our engine booth for several hours. It was fun talking to people, and I actually met several old friends while there. It was cool to talk to Tim Sweeney from Epic for a bit. He stopped by the booth to take a look. I also talked to Steve Theodore for a few minutes and was sad to hear that his new company, Giant Byte didn't make it the way he had wanted. However, he's not hurting much since he now has a job at Bungie as the Technical Art Director. Way to go, Steve! I also got a few minutes to talk with Kevin Bjorke of Nvidia. He's such a friendly and encouraging guy. Thanks for your inspiration and encouragement Kevin!

The next class I attended was also by some guys at Nvidia. They were telling about how they made their Cascade Falls demo using the new features of DirectX 10. I was pretty impressed by their procedural rock formation creation. Basically they create the rock formations using a helix pattern and several octaves of procedural noise. They also talked about all of the other elements of the demo - the waterfall particle effects, the wetness shader as the water hits the rocks, the dragonflies buzzing around, etc. It was a very impressive demo.

My final session of the day was by Christopher Evans from Crytek and another character artist at Crytek who's name I forget. They spoke about the character pipeline at Crytek and showed off some of their amazing character work. It was a real jaw-dropping experience to see their work. They're using morph targets that are driven by joint rotations to fix up problems caused by point weight deformation. That's something that I'd really like to try but I've never felt like I could afford the blend shapes for it. Now that we've got our next-gen engine up and going, I'm going to give it a shot.

They also talked a bit about spherical skinning, saying that it was more accurate than the linear skin weighting that all of the major 3d packages use and that it's also less expensive. That's something that I'll need to look into more.

I enjoyed seeing the shaders that they're using on character's faces as well as getting a look at their facial animation system - which is similar to the method I've been using - only lots more involved. Basically they create a morph target for all of the facial muscles and then drive them using joystick manipulators. They also came up with a method for facial motion capture that they're able to do in their own studio with a simple web cam. They can track the markers that they draw on the face and then use that motion to drive their joystick controls. Pretty fancy.

I ended up the day by going to the Nokia party which was at a club that was down the street from our hotel. They had lots of loud music. It was fun for awhile, but not very conducive to talking with my coworkers about what we learned today so we left after about 90 minutes of trying to shout at each other over the music.

GDC is great. I'm learning a lot. I'm looking forward to some good sessions tomorrow, and then especially to going home the next day and being with my family again. :0)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ben - thanks for putting your textures online and for FREE! Some really nice stuff there. I'll be using some in my Second Life work if that's ok witjh you. Thanks!

March 10, 2007 2:03 PM  
Blogger Leo Batic said...

Hey Ben, I´ve just discover your texture site. It´s GREAT!

You will see you effort in my illustrations sooner or later. If you want to visit my blog you´d see my digital collage illustrations.

Thanks a lot!

March 10, 2007 4:32 PM  
Blogger Sloan said...

Nice wood textures! Using for a design project right now...

March 15, 2007 4:10 PM  

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