Wolfgang Engel (editor in chief of the ShaderX series) kindly sent me copies of the two ShaderX^2 books last year, so that I could read through them and reference useful articles in writing the third edition of Real-Time Rendering (RTR3). He also provided us with the contents of the then-unpublished ShaderX^6 – he was a huge help in making RTR3 up-to-date.
While writing, I learnt that Wolfgang was willing to release the ShaderX^2 books electronically for free. However, he was advised by the publisher to check with the authors to see if they had any reservations. I like these books; some of the articles are dated, but there’s still solid material in many that should be made widely available. Also, I hated referencing articles in RTR3 that few people could actually go look up. Finally, I found that the PDFs of these two books were already being distributed illegally through a torrent. It struck me as unreasonable that the two ways to obtain these out-of-print books was through illegal downloading or through rather exorbitant prices in used-book markets (currently the prices are down in the $30 range; at one point last year the lowest price I saw for one of the books was $100).
Wolfgang didn’t have the time this Spring to gather permissions (he was busy at the time with GTA IV and other projects), and I wanted to begin to repay him for all his help. So, I spent some time these past two months getting permission release forms signed for the ShaderX^2 books. 66 article clearances later, I’m done! There were no objections from the authors, usually just the opposite, so the books are now generously being hosted for free download by gamedev.net:
The books are “ancient”, four years old, but there is some great material in them. Greg James’ article about rendering thick volumes has been cited by a number of later papers. I particularly enjoyed the articles by Mitchell et al. and Ansari in the Image Space section, as I love post-processing effects. They present lots of code snippets alongside solid theory. Which reminds me, we should also work on putting the CD-ROM’s contents up on the web – next task.
Also, the first ShaderX book has also been cleared for free download. Wolfgang is digging through his archives for a PDF version of this book, and I hope it will be available soon. In the meantime, all of the articles from authors at ATI (at the time) are available on the AMD/ATI website.
Update: see the ShaderX Books page at the ACM TOG site for a link to the first book and other related free resources.