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Extensible Rendering and Pre-visualization of Art. Daniel Horowitz NVIDIA Corporation Khronos COLLADA FX Workgroup Chairman. Efficient Next-Gen Content. More content Done better Done sooner. Industry Trends. More sophisticated technology Higher consumer expectation

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Extensible rendering and pre visualization of art

Extensible RenderingandPre-visualization of Art

Daniel Horowitz

NVIDIA Corporation

Khronos COLLADA FX Workgroup Chairman


Efficient next gen content

Efficient Next-Gen Content

More content

Done better

Done sooner


Industry trends
Industry Trends

  • More sophisticated technology

  • Higher consumer expectation

  • More engine and art complexity

  • Increasing dev staff

  • Explosive growth on art staff

  • Increasing time-to-market

  • Increasing costs

  • Increasing risk


Trend sustainability
Trend Sustainability

  • More technology

    • more variables to control and deliver

    • fewer milestones reached on time

    • less predictable return-on-investment (ROI)

  • Publishers gamble less

    • More franchising

    • Less risk taken for innovation

  • Fewer little-guys

  • I hope you are cringing!



Be humble
Be Humble

  • Why do you buy a game?

    • Art, game-play, story

  • Good developers are humble!

    • Enable art and game-play

    • Who are your customers?

    • Provide good customer services

  • Interact

    • Developers must learn to interact with artists.

    • Artist must not be intimidated by developers

  • Mix it up!

    • Locate artist near developer counterpart



Don t be hasty
Don’t be Hasty

  • By developer for developers (no thanks)

    • But not used by developers?

    • Consult the customer

  • DCC pitfalls

    • Limited usage of DCC application

      • There are thousands of buttons/nodes/modifiers

      • Did you support enough?

    • Limited quantity of art samples

      • Not all art is the same

      • 101 way to do the same thing


Design considerations
Design Considerations

  • Integrate with familiar tools

  • Increase accessibility

    • Put common features to the toolbar+hotkey

  • Keep artists focused ON THE ART!

  • Minimize data transfer costs

  • Minimize iteration costs

  • Detect problems early

  • Humans are slow - automate


Design considerations1
Design Considerations

  • Reduce “brain to screen time”

    • Visualize soon

    • Visualize often

  • Speed conscious

    • Modularity updates are key to real-time

    • Optional 1-click update for extreme cases

  • Beware of Tools Limitation

    • Threading issues (Photoshop, Maya)

    • 3D API co-existence issues

      • Separate owner threads


The many shades of preview
The Many Shades of Preview

  • External viewer

    • Is this your game?

    • Export & launch

    • File-watching

    • Pipes, tmp files, TCP/IP

  • Internal viewer

  • Native DCC viewer plug-ins

  • Provide a playground for models



Building a better material
Building a Better Material

  • Integrate with familiar tools

    • Material assignment

    • Material customization

  • Minimize time-to-preview

  • Author-time vs. Run-time

    • Minimize the visual difference

  • Enable preproduction without a run-time


Building a better material1

Build to your schedule’s needs

Plan to upgrade

Cold

Warm

Warmer

Hot

Building a Better Material

  • Strings

  • Custom Attributes

  • Material definition plug-ins

  • Material object plug-ins


Building a better material2
Building a Better Material

Strings

  • Messy names

  • Parsing

  • Prone to spelling errors

  • Compared with options or without?


Building a better material3
Building a Better Material

Custom attributes

  • Increased flexibility

  • Provides tags and name+value pairs

  • Still prone to spelling errors

  • Hard to locate

  • Reduce errors

    • Use scripts to add, minimize, and build UI

    • Prefix names and tags


Building a better material4
Building a Better Material

Material definition plug-ins

  • Integrated

  • Familiar

  • Accessible

  • Definitions come from file

  • Object’s values live in DCC app

  • Ex. DirectX Maya Preview Pipeline



Building a better material6
Building a Better Material

Material object plug-ins

  • Pros of ‘material definition plug-in’

  • Material Objects come from file

    • reference material definition files

  • Export references, not duplicates

  • Direct use of assets


The shader you never knew
The Shader You Never Knew

  • How can an app load an unknown shader?

  • Are vertex declaration semantics enough?

  • What are these parameters?

  • Are the passes operated in order?

  • What other API calls are needed?



Shader bindings
Shader Bindings

  • Vertex declarations are a good start

  • Feed parameters intelligently

    • Standard Annotations and Semantics

  • Scene

    • Identify scene values for parameters

    • Models - World and skinning matrices, etc

    • Cameras – view, projection, viewport, etc

    • Lights – type, color, direction, position, etc

  • UI

    • Presenting parameters to the artists


Shader orchestration
Shader Orchestration

Scenarios

  • Image burn-in

  • Generating shadow buffers

  • Generating cube maps

  • Accumulating lighting

  • Deferred shading

  • Composition operations

  • Blur, bloom, tone-map, etc…

  • Fur


Shader orchestration1
Shader Orchestration

Themes

  • Producing and consuming textures

  • Same geometry, different shader

  • Different geometry, same shader

  • Scheduling passes


Shader orchestration2
Shader Orchestration

Solutions

  • Convention

    • first valid technique

    • All passes sequentially

  • Profiles

    • Name = Engine procedure

  • Scripts

    • DXSAS 0.8x

  • Execution graph


Shader orchestration3
Shader Orchestration

Execution graphs

  • Modular operations are nodes

  • Graph traversal orders nodes

  • Edges carry data between nodes

  • Nodes may utilize render when evaluated


Shader orchestration4
Shader Orchestration

Multi-Postprocessor

Canvas Out

Canvas In

Glow Trails

Tile

Canvas In

Canvas Out

Canvas In

Canvas Out

Num Images

Num Tiles

6

64


Shader orchestration5
Shader Orchestration

Brightfilter

Blur

Downsample

Downsample

HDRRender

Combine

ToneMap

Simple Bloom



Modular shaders
Modular Shaders

  • Shader Fragment Libraries

    • Support #include

    • Standard Includes

      • Ex. #include<Sas.fxh>

  • Environment defines

    • #ifdef & #ifndef

    • Ex. SAS_PRESENT

  • Optimize

    • Shared parameters

    • Leverage pre-shading


Count your blessings
Count Your Blessings

  • Detect modeling problems early

  • “Bless” the artist’s model on request

    • Water tight

    • UV issues – stretch, skew, tangency

    • Exceeding bone & poly count

    • Naming conventions

    • Layer checks – LOD?


Count your blessings1
Count Your Blessings

  • Visualize the problem

    • No cryptic messages: “Error on vert #13”

    • Highlight

      • Wire-frame

      • Transparent polygons

      • Depth bias

  • Fix model if artist desires/authorizes

  • Validate in automated build pipeline


Art debugged
Art Debugged

  • Visualize post-export data

  • Allow the artist to validate post-export

  • Preview mechanism can enable this fast

    • Internal micro-export pre-viewer

  • Visualizer

    • Normals, tangents, binormals

    • Edges, adjacencies, creases

    • Points, Bounds, Transforms

    • Texture visualizer (more on this later)


Dcc your way
DCC Your Way

  • Customize DCC apps to fit your production

  • Removed/block disallowed operations

  • Move commonly used operations forward

    • Preview buttons

    • Export buttons

    • Blessing tools

  • Script common multi-step setups


A pluggable pipeline
A Pluggable Pipeline

  • Pipeline infrastructure

    • Multi-App or Mono-App plug-in model

    • Mix and match

  • Multi-App model

    • Batch, perl, etc to tie apps together

    • Always in&out of files

  • Plug-in model

    • Script to tie plug-ins together

    • All in-process

    • Avoid continual file read-write


A pluggable pipeline1
A Pluggable Pipeline

  • DXOps

    • C# + Managed DirectX9

    • Framework discovers command & registers

    • Dictionary for sharable models

    • Dictionary for sharable textures

      dxops.exe -s "load tiger.x;" -f "script1.txt" -s "save tiger2.x"

      Where script1.txt reads:

      AddVData type:FLOAT3 usage:NORMAL usageIdx:0;

      GenNormals;

      AddVData type:FLOAT3 usage:TANGENT usageIdx:0;

      AddVData type:FLOAT3 usage:BINORMAL usageIdx:0;

      GenTangentframes;

      GenAdjacency;


War hardened pipelines
War-Hardened Pipelines

  • Stage0 = source art, not the export

    • Automate the export

    • Encode export options in model or externally

  • Stage inputs

    • User should not modify stage outputs

    • Use stage specific option files and resources

      • Prevent loss during overwrite

  • Incompatible changes

    • Develop stage to upgrade old resources


War hardened pipelines1
War-Hardened Pipelines

  • Separate features into small assets

    • Geometry, animations, material definitions, materials objects, particle systems, etc

    • Better asset/source control

    • More sharing via references

    • Different tools for different jobs

      • Max (model cages)

      • ZBrush (model high-res)

      • FxComposer (Materials)

      • Maya (animations)


Pipeline evolution
Pipeline Evolution

Khronos Group’s COLLADA

  • COLLAborative Design Activity

  • XML

  • High adoption rate

  • Modern features

  • Designed for lossless exchange

  • Extended user data

  • Not a run-time format


Testimonial and tips for content creation and communication

Testimonial and TipsForContent Creation and Communication

Marcus GhalyGas Powered Games


Realizing you need tools
Realizing You Need Tools

  • Hitting milestones can mask inefficiencies

    • All the assets are in for the milestone so our process works perfectly, right?

  • Use of brute-force instead of automation

    • lengthy multi-step processes introduce errors

    • derivative art proliferates those errors

  • Automation, automation, automation

    • while still giving control to the artists


The producer consumer model
The Producer/Consumer Model

Producers

  • Realize that you are not the consumer

    • command line anyone?

    • dev-centric documentation?

    • Error: g_texCount <= texIndex

      • Error: Dude, you used too many textures.

  • So, find out what your consumer wants?

  • How does the consumer think?

    • artist friendly terminology

    • GUI / hotkeys

    • tool layout


The producer consumer model1
The Producer/Consumer Model

Consumers

  • Realize that:

    • YOU ARE THE CONSUMER

  • You have a say in how your tools work

  • But in order for this to work:

    • YOU MUST GIVE FEEDBACK

  • Explain the impact on your schedule

  • Fight for your right to export
















Random acts of technology
Random Acts of Technology

  • Do you have a plan for tool development

  • Is there a timeline – micro and macro

  • Is there an official method for tools requests, bug fixing and tracking

  • Does this method allow a back and forth of ideas

    • prototype with the artist early

  • How else are your teams interfacing with each other


Bad conversations
Bad Conversations

  • Art: My file didn’t export so I redid the whole model. It took me 3 extra days.

  • Dev: do you have to broken file?

  • Art: no I threw it away

  • Consider an error reporting mechanism


Bad conversations1
Bad Conversations

  • Art: I exported and it crashed!

  • Damn it devs. Don’t use cryptic error messages. Tell the artist if they scewed up if it is their fault otherwise both peoples time will be wasted tracking it down.


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