If keen observers of video game cinematics and CGI films think the computer graphics look great now, especially in how cloth material and hair is rendered, the next wave is going to be amazing.
The science behind how these surfaces are rendered have been restudied and restructured in such a way, where if there was a real world analogy: the way any type of thread is weaved on a loom in specific patterns is what the team of computer engineers from the Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego looked at, but at a microscopic level. What they have discovered is a simpler method which matches this real world analogy and the ‘virtual threads’ are more cylindrical.
When writing software to deconstruct how the real world looks inside a computer, programmers are required to have an intimate mathematical understanding of how to make those visual images understood within the machine. For the technically inclined, that means writing a proper sequence of logical statements to describe how a ray of light reflects off a particular object molecule by molecule. How the computer responds is by instructing what’s inside its mechanisms to draw the right color, shape, transparency and density (to name a few) to a screen after all that complex math resolves what a computer eye sees of this virtual object.
But for the team who already know this science known as ray tracing theory, to find a new method to measure and render how light reflects off fabrics is going to revolutionize how any entertainment product utilizing computer graphics is going to look. When the next wave of display technologies include 4K, a ultra-high definition display format, this recent discovery will most likely take advantage of really making any CGI world look beyond photo-realistic. It will be unmistakable from the real thing!
Software like Maya or Cinema4D will have to be updated for those computer artists looking to recreate the world of James Cameron’s Avatar.
In a report by Gizmag, Oleg Bisker is a fellow researcher who believes that the new algorithms developed can simulate any kind of weaving pattern and thread types in a computer animated world. Even in still life, the simulations of real world cloth objects look far more realistic than ever before. Bisker is working with Henrik Wann Jensen, PhD advisor to Iman Sadeghi, software engineer who has done work in the past with ILM and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
When the team consists of people who have done work within the movie-making industry in the past (Sadeghi worked on Lord of the Rings andTangled), their work will certainly not go unnoticed. Gizmag also reported that their work has raised eyebrows at SIGGRAPH, a computer graphics conference. As for when it will appear in end products is simply a matter of time.
If Cameron is not aware of this technology yet, he will hear about it soon enough. He may invest into it as well if he truly wants to remain ahead of the game with creating visual wonders to wow audiences with. After all, that is what he does best.
(This article is republished from Otaku No Culture, a blog that looks the pop culture scene of the Pacific Northwest.)
760 Yates St.
Retro video gamers will be a go-go for Fan Favourites, a new video games and movie store located in Millie’s Lane in Victoria, British Columbia. That’s an alleyway located beside the Odeon Theatre, where a “second nerd row” may well be developing in this garden city. This store is tucked between Chef’s Quest, a D&D themed diner, and Dragon Impact, a Martial Art Equipment & Supply store.
Ben and Jen Wolchuk are the owners and operators of this new addition to the geek culture of Victoria. They bring a lifetime of passion for video games and movies, and to open this store is a natural evolution of their desire to share what they know to the local community. Their knowledge of this scene is vast, and their lifelong passion is fondly recalled. Ben noted that one of the first games he owned was Scooby-DooR on the Intellivision, and Jen admitted that although she was deprived from owning a machine, she found a way to get her video game fix.
“Every time I went to a friend’s house and they had a console, I would force them to play Nintendo for hours. I mainly watched them,” laughed Jen Wolchuck.
Both of them followed the trends of those times and they developed more than twelve years of retail experience to earn their credo. After working for other bosses, they decided to make the plunge to work for themselves. Mario could not be any more prouder.
Ben has the electronics experience to refurbish the used video game consoles so that the Limited Edition Nintendo 64 Gold console will work when it’s taken home. Every unit gets a thorough cleaning before it gets resold and these older consoles have a three-month warranty. Parts may be swapped out of a broken unit and placed in another so that a fully functional unit can be made. That kind of care and attention is important. When Ben described a situation where Microsoft did not seem to care about the casing, a Hello Kitty Crystal Xbox, in a warranty repair a long time ago, he told how upset the owner was when he received his unit back, housed in another enclosure.
That will not happen here, if collectors want their special edition console fixed. Both he and Jen were talking about possibly making this service available for gamers looking to give their cherished limited edition device or classic Nintendo Entertainment System a second life.
“We really want to give second-hand life to everything we sell,” said Jen, “We don’t want to keep [our product] too current or retro. Because when that product is good to someone — it reminds them of their childhood, their upbringing — we want to provide that service for everyone.”
The Wolchuk’s store is quickly getting noticed by the local Victoria community. And in due time the speciality products they sell will make this place the happening place to visit for replacing broken Nintendo 64 controllers with new ones, or to buy some stuffed dolls from Adventure Time and other video game toy properties.
The Wolchuck’s have a few distribution deals in place to help bring a few unique products to Victoria, but as for used video games and films, the prices are very decent. The current selection may seem slim since this store is new, having opened Sept 1, but that will eventually grow as products are being brought in for sale or trade.
Even disk repair is offered at this store because sometimes that cherished game from long ago can no longer be played. Fortunately, some scratches and wear can be buffed out, and that’s the risk one gets when people buy used products. When asked about competing with online auction houses like eBay, Jen revealed that there is always a risk, because buyers will not be able to tell what the condition is like. They only have the word of what’s written and hopefully that is not a lie. One person’s idea of mint may well be another’s definition of very fine.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to buy something online, because they can always get it repaired here. They can factor what they can get it for online and what they have to pay to repair it for here ($3 at this store). And sometimes it’s worth the risk,” said Jen.
Fan Favourites can be found on Facebook or Twitter @FanFaveGames
Nintendo enthusiasts now have a menu of portable hardware options to choose from: they can go 2D, 3D or XL. Each unit has their pros and cons, but as for whether or not their newest unit, the 2DS, will fly hinges on the upcoming Christmas shopping season.
The unit is essentially a stripped down version of the 3DS. The third dimension is being tossed out the door since medical experts are saying that can hinder the development of young eyes. But the big question is if the MSRP of $129.99 the right price? Maybe, in a nearly tax-free shopping zone of Alberta (Oregon for American shoppers) or a weekend when sales tax isn’t applied to purchases. Within Canada, the electronics tax may well be a hindrance than a god-send in select regions that have implemented this measure to deal with electronic waste.
$150 is an approximate total of this pint-sized unit, and it will give young hands a portable console to play old and new games from Nintendo’s vast library of old (DS) and new games (third-party included).
Not even the 3DS and XL counterpart did as well as it could have. The problem laid in how restrictive the end product was. A couple of system upgrades later, this device became acceptable as features became enabled. Now if the next iteration of the 3DS only sported a 5.1 megapixel camera instead of a 0.3 megapixel one, then it can easily compete with 3D cameras. That technology was a brief fashion statement of the last decade. The fact that 3D video recording was not enabled until later even put the nail to the proverbial coffin. The operating system limits the clips to 10 minutes and there is no method to display the content elsewhere than on the 3DS or XL unit. Also, the parts from the clam-shaped 3DS look like they are being co-opted to be used in the 2DS.
These days, the company seems to be struggling with the Wii U not making the dent it should. Clumsy physical design than lack of good games may be at fault here. But as for how well it will fare in the epic battle between Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, sometimes simplicity is what some consumers want. Nintendo has always been known for creating family friendly products and that’s their saving grace. With great characters like Mario, Luigi, Zelda and Donkey Kong, they will always be part of the video game culture that emerged from the 80′s and 90′s along with Pac-Man.
But it is Pokémon products that are keeping company afloat these days. He may not be like Wreck-It Ralph, but movie-goers knew that this movie was a tribute to Nintendo. Even though this video game company worked with the production team to have some of their flagship characters appear, not every icon made it to the screen, intentional or not. But at this film’s core was a movie that could easily have been Donkey Kong. Ralph’s physique is exactly like that of the big ape and Fix-It Felix is Mario. The familiarity between what this movie could have been to what it is not is all too close, even though not many of the film’s production crew will admit it.
At least with the consoles that are out there, Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Zelda and Link show that they can be enjoyed on any gaming device Nintendo is selling. It is just a leap of faith to keep this company going strong than anything else.
— Ed “The Vintage Tempest” Sum
Sony’s PS4 has some impressive specs and interesting features like using an iPad for a second screen, but that’s not enough to convince me to own a unit yet. The Xbox One has an improved Kinect but that’s not a huge selling point. The videos of various games demos for both look great in high-def, but the list of games available during launch week are scant. They are not as wide and varied as I hoped.
The current line of exclusives are not all that interesting, and there will no doubt be some hardware and software kinks that need to be ironed out. There were reports over the weekend about the PS4′s ‘blue light of death,’ an analogy that brings to mind Microsoft’s infamous ‘red ring of death’ back when the Xbox 360 released. At least .4% of the people who bought the system were affected. I suspect the figure is larger but when considering the number of units that flew off the shelves in stores on launch day. That is not a good start. Read the rest of this entry
I’m the type of person who carries a lot of tech — namely a tablet, smart phone, two port usb charger, headphones, digital camera and portable gaming device. When I travel, one of these devices is guaranteed to be nearly drained by the end of the day. With MOGA’s Hero or Pro Power Controller for Android devices made by Power A, an all-in-one smart phone is all I need. It can keep running like an Energizer Bunny thanks to MOGA’s Boost technology; the controller doubles as a spare power charger. Read the rest of this entry
In a few years, computer users and gamers will have the option to be able to get touchy-feely with their monitors. That technology is definitely in store for tablet users, and traditional desktop setups may not necessarily be all the same. That will depend on where this technology will get used. Without a doubt, certain entertainment industries will be excited in what can be developed from it, and that can bring new meaning to what kind of new simulations can be programmed off it. In essence, this new invention is a form of haptic technology, and its use in video games have been around for some time in the form of force-feedback motion-controllers.
In a report by Gizmag, Disney Research and Senseg are developing a system where a user’s fingertips can sense a simulated bump on a flat screen that corresponds to a bump on a displayed image. Now if that included 3D projection, the beginnings of hard light projection may well become a reality. Remember Rimmer from Red Dwarf? He’s a hologram with no ability to interact with his environment. Later in the series, his projection unit was modified so that his light body is more “tangible,” and thus be indestructible. Read the rest of this entry