THE FU­TURE IS IN FACES

HWM (Singapore) - - Trends -

De­spite the en­croach­ing chal­lenge of new gam­ing con­soles, NVIDIA’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent Tony Ta­masi said that the fu­ture is “noth­ing but good­ness for the PC.” His op­ti­mistic out­look is based on the premise that con­sole game de­vel­op­ers can create games with out­stand­ing con­tent for the PC plat­form.

One of the main tech­nolo­gies un­veiled by NVIDIA this year was Face Works. Face Works is based on fa­cial and mo­tion cap­ture tech­nol­ogy ti­tled Light Stage. De­vel­oped by the In­sti­tute of Cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Light Stage has the amaz­ing ca­pa­bil­ity to record im­age data down to the tenth of a mil­lime­ter with the help of the lat­est pho­to­graphic tech­niques. With Face Works, it’s pos­si­ble to cap­ture the minute sub­tleties of an ac­tor’s face, as well as the proper tex­ture and con­sis­tency of hu­man skin.

The data ob­tained is stored as a dig­i­tal mesh, which can be later re­con­sti­tuted back to the orig­i­nal im­age. The real magic of Face Works lies in com­pres­sion; 32GB of cap­tured raw data can be whit­tled down by ap­prox­i­mately 98 per­cent to just 400MB. This small data size, which is eas­ier and quicker to trans­mit, opens up av­enues of ren­der­ing pho­to­re­al­is­tic hu­man expressions in real time.

Dur­ing the PlayS­ta­tion 4 un­veil­ing, Sony was keen to show­case sim­i­lar per­for­mance on their con­sole. The re­al­ism of­fered by the new gam­ing de­vice was il­lus­trated with a demo of an old man’s face, ren­dered live with the help of de­vel­oper Quan­tic Dream’s pro­pri­etary new en­gine.

PC game de­vel­op­ers, how­ever, can count on Face Works be­ing made avail­able as a plat­form for game de­vel­op­ment, giv­ing the PC a leg up on the con­soles in the bat­tle for re­al­ism.

The Face Works demo from NVIDIA was run­ning on the GTX Ti­tan GPU, and it’s safe to pos­tu­late that it will not be avail­able for the new con­soles. In fact, both the Xbox One and the PlayS­ta­tion 4 lag be­hind in terms of avail­able de­vel­op­ment tools, and will only of­fer the PhysX and APEX mid­dle­ware engines for de­vel­op­ers (both avail­able for the PC). This move may help con­sole game achieve bet­ter physics, more re­al­is­tic simulation of rigid bod­ies and proper col­li­sion dy­nam­ics, but PC games will al­ready be mov­ing on with the help of NVIDIA’s ad­di­tions such as Wave Works.

It will take time for tech­nolo­gies such as Face Works and Wave Works to be fully im­ple­mented in PC ti­tles. But even though the next gen­er­a­tion con­soles boast “next gen­er­a­tion graph­ics cards”, the PC looks set to re­tain its throne as the plat­form with the high­est qual­ity vi­su­als.

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