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  • Fairly new book: Practical Rendering and Computation with Direct3D 11, by Jason Zink, Matt Pettineo, and Jack Hoxley, A.K.Peters/CRC Press, July 2011 (more info). It’s meant for people who already know DirectX 10 and want to learn just the new stuff. I found the first half pretty abstract; the second half was more useful, as it gives in-depth explanation of practical examples that show how the new functionality can be used.
  • Two nice little Moore’s Law-related articles appeared recently in The Economist. This one is about how the law looks to have legs for a number of more years, and presents a graph showing how various breakthroughs have kept the law going over the past decades. Moore himself thought the law might hold for ten years. This one talks about how computational energy efficiency is doubling every 18 months, which is great news for mobile devices.
  • I used to use MWSnap for screen captures, but it doesn’t work well with two monitors and it hangs at times. I finally found a replacement that does all the things I want, with a mostly-good UI: FastStone Capture. The downside is that it actually costs money ($19.95), but I’m happy to have purchased it.
  • Ray tracing vs. rasterization, part XIV: Gavan Woolery thinks RT is the future, DEADC0DE argues both will always have a place, and gives a deeper analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each (though the PITA that transparency causes rasterization is not called out) – I mostly agree with his stance. Both posts have lots of followup comments.
  • This shows exactly how far behind we are in blogging about SIGGRAPH: find the Beyond Programmable Shading course notes here – that’s just a mere two months overdue.
  • Tantalizing SIGGRAPH Talk demo: KinectFusion from Microsoft Research and many others. Watch around 3:11 on for the great reconstruction, and the last minute for fun stuff. Newer demo here.
  • OnLive – you should check it out, it’ll take ten minutes. Sign up for a free account and visit the Arena, if nothing else: it’s like being in a sci-fi movie, with a bunch of games being played by others before your eyes that you can scroll through and click on to watch the player. I admit to being skeptical of the whole cloud-gaming idea originally, but in trying it out, it’s surprisingly fast and the video quality is not bad. Not good enough to satisfy hardcore FPS players – I’ve seen my teenage boys pick out targets that cover like two pixels, which would be invisible with OnLive – but otherwise quite usable. The “no download, no GPU upgrade, just play immediately” aspect is brilliant and lends itself extremely well to game trials.

OnLive Arena

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Naty and I (mostly Naty!) collected the links for most courses and a few talks given at SIGGRAPH 2010; see our page here. Enjoy! If you have links to any other courses and talks, please do send them on to me or post them as a comment.

Personally, I particularly liked the “Practical Morphological Anti-Aliasing on the GPU” talk. It’s good to see the technique take around 3.5 ms on an NVIDIA 295 GTX, and the author’s site has a lot of information (including code).

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The SIGGRAPH Course “Advances in Real-Time Rendering for 3D Graphics and Games” has been held since 2006 with a consistently high level of quality. However the hosting of the materials is scattered around a few different websites, and the older years suffer from broken links and other issues. We are happy to host the course’s new home on a subdomain of this site: http://advances.realtimerendering.com/. At the moment only the SIGGRAPH 2010 course materials are present, but previous years will go up shortly.

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For anyone still working on their SIGGRAPH 2010 schedule, SIGGRAPH now has an online scheduler available. They are also promising an iPhone app, but this has not yet materialized. Most courses (sadly, only one of mine) now have detailed schedules. These reveal some more detail about two of the most interesting courses for game and real-time rendering developers:

Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games

The first half, Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games I (Wednesday, 28 July, 9:00 AM – 12:15 PM, Room 515 AB) starts with a short introduction by Natalya Tatarchuk (Bungie), and continues with four 45 to 50-minute talks:

  • Rendering techniques in Toy Story 3, by John Ownby, Christopher Hall and Robert Hall (Disney).
  • A Real-Time Radiosity Architecture for Video Games, by Per Einarsson (DICE) and Sam Martin (Geomerics)
  • Real-Time Order Independent Transparency and Indirect Illumination using Direct3D 11, by Jason Yang and Jay McKee (AMD)
  • CryENGINE 3: Reaching the Speed of Light, by Anton Kaplayan (Crytek)

The second half, Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games II (Wednesday, 28 July, 2:00 PM – 5:15 PM, Room 515 AB) continues with five more talks (these are more variable in length, ranging from 25 to 50 minutes):

  • Sample Distribution Shadow Maps, by Andrew Lauritzen (Intel)
  • Adaptive Volumetric Shadow Maps, by Marco Salvi (Intel)
  • Uncharted 2: Character Lighting and Shading, by John Hable (Naughty Dog)
  • Destruction Masking in Frostbite 2 using Volume Distance Fields, by Robert Kihl (DICE)
  • Water Flow in Portal 2, by Alex Vlachos (Valve)

And concludes with a short panel (Open Challenges for Rendering in Games and Future Directions) and Q&A session by all the course speakers.

Beyond Programmable Shading

The first half,  Beyond Programmable Shading I (Thursday, 29 July, 9:00 AM – 12:15 PM, Room 515 AB) includes seven 20-30 minute talks:

  • Looking Back, Looking Forward, Why and How is Interactive Rendering Changing, by Mike Houston (AMD)
  • Five Major Challenges in Interactive Rendering, by Johan Andersson (DICE)
  • Running Code at a Teraflop: How a GPU Shader Core Works, by Kayvon Fatahalian (Stanford)
  • Parallel Programming for Real-Time Graphics, by Aaron Lefohn (Intel)
  • DirectCompute Use in Real-Time Rendering Products, by Chas. Boyd (Microsoft)
  • Surveying Real-Time Beyond Programmable Shading Rendering Algorithms, by David Luebke (NVIDIA)
  • Bending the Graphics Pipeline, by Johan Andersson (DICE)

The second half, Beyond Programmable Shading II (Thursday, 29 July, 2:00 PM – 5:15 PM, Room 515 AB) starts with a short “re-introduction” by Aaron Lefohn (Intel) continues with five 20-35 minute talks:

  • Keeping Many Cores Busy: Scheduling the Graphics Pipeline, by Jonathan Ragan-Kelley (MIT)
  • Evolving the Direct3D Pipeline for Real-Time Micropolygon Rendering, by Kayvon Fatahalian (Stanford)
  • Decoupled Sampling for Real-Time Graphics Pipelines, by Jonathan Ragan-Kelley (MIT)
  • Deferred Rendering for Current and Future Rendering Pipelines, by Andrew Lauritzen (Intel)
  • PantaRay: A Case Study in GPU Ray-Tracing for Movies, by Luca Fascione (Weta) and Jacopo Pantaleoni (NVIDIA)

and closes with a 15-minute wrapup (What’s Next for Interactive Rendering Research?) by Mike Houston (AMD) followed by a 45-minute panel (What Role Will Fixed-Function Hardware Play in Future Graphics Architectures?) by all the course speakers Mike Houston, Kayvon Fatahalian, and Johan Andersson, joined by Steve Molnar (NVIDIA) and David Blythe (Intel) (thanks to Aaron Lefohn for the update).

Both of these courses look extremely strong, and I recommend them to any SIGGRAPH attendee interested in real-time rendering (I definitely plan to attend them!)

Four presentations by DICE is an unusually large number for a single game developer, but that isn’t the whole story; they are actually doing two additional presentations in the Stylized Rendering in Games course, for a total of six!

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Since my original post about the SIGGRAPH 2010 courses, some of the courses now have updated speaker lists (including mine – regardless of what Eric may think, I’m not about to risk Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis by speaking for three hours straight). I’ll give the notable updates here:

Stylized Rendering in Games

Covered games will include:

  • Borderlands (presented by Gearbox cofounder and chief creative officer Brian Martel as well as VP of product development Aaron Thibault)
  • Brink (presented by lead programmer Dean Calver)
  • The 2008 Prince of Persia (presented by lead 3D programmer Jean-François St-Amour)
  • Battlefield Heroes (presented by graphics engineer Henrik Halén)
  • Mirror’s Edge (also presented by Henrik Halén).
  • Monday Night Combat (presented by art director Chandana Ekanayake) – thanks to Morgan for the update!

Physically Based Shading Models in Film and Game Production

  • I’ll be presenting the theoretical background, as well as technical, production, and creative lessons from the adoption of physically-based shaders at the Activision studios.
  • Also on the game side, Yoshiharu Gotanda (president, R&D manager, and co-founder of tri-Ace) will talk about some of the fascinating work he has been doing with physically based shaders.

On the film production side:

  • Adam Martinez is a computer graphics supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks whose film work includes the Matrix series and Superman Returns; his talk will focus on the use of physically based shaders in Alice in Wonderland.  Imageworks uses a ray-tracing renderer, unlike the micropolygon rasterization renderers used by most of the film industry; I look forward to hearing how this affects shading and lighting.
  • Ben Snow is a visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic who has done VFX work on numerous films (many of them as CG or VFX supervisor) including Star Trek: Generations, Twister, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Mummy, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, King Kong, and Iron Man. Ben has pioneered the use of physically based shaders in Terminator Salvation and Iron Man 2, which I hope to learn more about from his talk.

Color Enhancement and Rendering in Film and Game Production

The game side of the course has two speakers in common with the “physically-based shading” course:

  • Yoshiharu Gotanda will talk about his work on film and camera emulation at tri-Ace, which is every bit as interesting as his physical shading work.
  • I’ll discuss my experiences introducing filmic color grading techniques at the Activision studios.

And one additional speaker:

  • While working at Electronic Arts, Haarm-Pieter Duiker applied his experience from films such as the Matrix series and Fantastic Four to game development, pioneering the filmic tone-mapping technique recently made famous by John Hable. He then moved back into film production, working on Speed Racer and 2012 (for which he won a VES award). Haarm-Pieter also runs his own company which makes tools for film color management.

The theoretical background and film production side will be covered by a roster of speakers which (although I shouldn’t say this since I’m organizing the course) is nothing less than awe-inspiring:

  • Dominic Glynn is lead engineer of image mastering at Pixar Animation Studios. He has worked on films including Cars, The Wild, Ratatouille, Up and Toy Story 3. Dominic will talk about how color enhancement and rendering is done at different stages of the Pixar rendering pipeline.
  • Joseph Goldstone (Lilliputian Pictures LLC) is a prominent consulting color scientist; his film credits include Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Batman Returns, Apollo 13, The Fifth Element, Titanic, and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. He has contributed to industry standards committees such as the International Color Consortium (ICC) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science’s Image Interchange Framework.
  • Joshua Pines is vice president of color imaging R&D at Technicolor; between his work at Technicolor, ILM and other production companies he has over 50 films to his credit, including Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Twister, Mission: Impossible, Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, The Mummy, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Aviator, and many others. Joshua lead the development of ILM’s film scanning system and has a Technical Achievement Award from the Motion Pictures Academy of Arts & Sciences for his work on film archiving.
  • Jeremy Selan is the color pipeline lead at Sony Pictures Imageworks. He has worked on films including Spider-Man 2 and 3, Monster House, Surf’s Up, Beowulf, Hancock, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Jeremy has contributed to industry standards committees such as the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI), SMPTE, and the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science’s Image Interchange Framework. At the course, Jeremy will unveil an exciting new initiative he has been working on at Imageworks.
  • The creative aspects of color grading will be covered by Stefan Sonnenfeld, senior vice president at Ascent Media Group as well as president, managing director, and co-founder of Company 3. An industry-leading DI colorist, Stefan has worked on almost one hundred films including Being John Malkovich, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible III, X-Men: The Last Stand, 300, Dreamgirls, Transformers, Sweeney Todd, Cloverfield, The Hurt Locker, Body of Lies, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Where the Wild Things Are, Alice in Wonderland, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and many others, as well as numerous high-profile television projects.

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The organizers of SIGGRAPH Courses often put up web pages dedicated to the course.  These typically have the latest version of the course notes and the slides.  I’ve found a bunch of SIGGRAPH 2009 course pages, and thought it would be convenient to have them all in one place:

SIGGRAPH courses are a consistently good source of information – if any of these courses are about a topic which interests you, you might want to take the time to read the course notes and slides.

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