Will we someday render movie CGI's in real time? Think of watching Avatar from any angle..... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-25-2013, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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There was IMO a fascinating split from the Oculus Rift VR Headsets thread in which we discussed the viability of someday watching from any angle the CGI of movies like Avatar.

 

I'd love to see the movie's final battle scene through the eyes of Jake Sully.  Or be able to fly around whatever part of the floating mountains are complete.  The movie would be playing all along.  Once you have the objects, you can theoretically render anything given enough bandwidth.

 

There is some speculation on what it would take to render things to acceptable (enjoyable) results.

 

I envision even something like an iPad being positionable at any angle to see (an albeit limited version of) Avatar.

 

Irkuck supplied a link to a powerhouse graphics system that some guy made.  Lightboost, water cooled and and and....  We could barely dream this stuff up 25 years ago.

 

Mark Rejhon (from blurbusters.com) gave this great assessment of where CGI is, was, and how to compare it to computing abilities.  He gave examples as well of some of the more recent generation video games which if the movies objects were reduced to, would probably be something to really marvel at.


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post #2 of 11 Old 06-25-2013, 01:44 PM
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Quoting my post from other thread:
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Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post

I blogged about that system on my Blur Busters Blog Vega bought that system because of LightBoost, a method of completely eliminating LCD motion blur. (LightBoost is a strobe backlight that flashes on fully refreshed LCD frames, and hides pixel transitions in total darkness between refreshes. It greatly outperforms scanning backlights, and has less motion blur than plasma). To do that, you need framerates matching refresh rate, 120 frames per second at 120 Hz, on three monitors simultaneously. That requires quite a lot of GPU to pull this off in grames such as Crysis3.

We can do CGI in realtime -- IF we're talking about yesterday's movies. Games such as Crysis3 renders graphics in realtime at more detail than a 1980's CGI movie (many, many, many times more detailed than Tron), all in real time at >30fps. We are roughly at the level where we could do Toy Story (original) in real time now, with a >99%+ look-and-feel. One needs to play recent games like Bioshock Infinite (at maximum detail settings on a $1000 Titan GPU) as well as games like Crysis3 (likewise), to appreciate we've roughly reached 1990's era CGI quality in certain games.

Now for CGI for today's movies, we'd have to dramatically reduce detail, view distance, and reduce polygon count, but one could argue that some games such as Crysis3 is the "Avatar" of real-time video game graphics, but it's nowhere as detailed as Avatar.

It's a massive, massive, massive jump in computing power to go from 90% of the quality of a CGI movie, all the way to 100% of the quality. Easily more than an order of magnitude of computing power, just to do the last 10%. Technically, could probably do even (70%, 80%) of Avatar on a quad Titan SLI, at roughly 30 frames per second on a single 1080p monitor, but doing 100% of that quality would require a massive (possibly many thousand times) jump upwards. If you've played Crysis3 on a $1000 GPU, you'd quickly recognize we could easily do a 70% or 80% "fascimile" of Avatar today and it'd look just perfectly like Avatar if you were standing 5 feet away from the computer monitor (where you couldn't see the imperfections). But doing the remaining 20%-30% extra of realism, where everything look seamless and perfect, at much higher resolution, requires several, several, orders of magnitudes additional computing power. That extra little bit of view distance, that few million more polygons just to eliminate two or three jaggies, getting the shadows right (taking into account of more light ray physics), etc.

That said...
Demonstration video of real-time CGI at 1990's quality -- a modern video game:
(Low resolution YouTube, but you can get an idea of what's currently being rendered in real-time on a $2000 gamer PC today)

And now, back in year 2007, the Crysis original video game, which pushed the limits of computers and couldn't be playable on most computers -- at maximum detail settings, it started to become slideshow stutter rather than smooth motion.


(Crysis video game, at Maximum Detail)

But today, GPU's have improved since 2007, now Ultra maximum detail (above) is possible in super fluid real time with keyboard, mouse, or joypad controller!
....The above screenshot at 120 frames per second on a Titan SLI! (Two $1000 GPU's running in parallel)
....Or >60 frames per second on a single GTX 780.... (a more reasonable $700)

On my Geforce GTX 680 ($350), I'm able to run the above scene (I have the game, and I can vouch for the exact same graphics) at greater than 30 frames per second, with anti-aliasing enabled.

See, it's certainly graphics many, many, many leagues above TRON (1982).
Grass blades! Individual leaves! Individual leaf shadows! Real-looking forest scenery. In real time! Today!
And that screenshot isn't Crysis3 -- which is EVEN more detailed than the original Crysis.

Graphics vendors such as nVidia lets you buy a $100 graphics card (for entry level gaming at minimum detail settings), or buy a SLI of two, three, or even four Titan's ($2000 to $4000), and run the same games at high-end ultra-detail settings. Titan's are single chip equivalents of yesterday's supercomputers -- more than one trillion floating point operations per second in a massively multi-core chip, running in a parallel matrix-style configuration (there are 2,688 stream processors in a single piece of GeForce Titan silicon) -- benchmarked at over 4 trillion floating point operations per second in a single chip that's more complex than the Intel i7's, thanks to the graphics race between ATI and nVidia over the last 15 years.

However, obviously, moviemaking art will always be done in non-realtime using the best hardware today, so it will always be many steps ahead of real-time. So we will never do the top of the line CGI in real time.
BUT... we can certainly easily do detail-reduced versions already on the top-end GPU's, or match the past's CGI.
So I agree with both sides:
-- YES, we _definitely_ can do CGI, but at slightly yesterday's level
-- NO, we _cannot_ do CGI to perfectly match today's level

P.S. Some gamers, like us, hate motion blur, and strive for a desktop-sized 24 inch plasma display as a computer monitor. The closest thing to that is a "LightBoost" display (tip for you motion blur haters) -- the raison d'etre of the Blur Busters Blog in my signature.

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post #3 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 07:30 AM
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I don't know if I really like this idea that much. Film is a story telling art, the angles at which the story is presented is part of the story and the way it is told. This is an integral aspect of it. Now I'm going to argue semantics a bit here, but I do feel like this thread is missing the essential: We already have 3D interactive stories for which you can change the angle of view, in fact, in most of them, you can even interact with the world and it's characters. Those are Video Games.

I understand the slight difference you are making is that you wouldn't play the game, it would all be pre-scripted, you'd only be a wondering camera. I think some games are headed that way a bit, a game like Dear Esther for example, could be argued to be what you mentioned. In Dear Esther, all you can do is look around and move around. You just explore it's world and it's embedded stories unfold in front of you. Now the type of story told by Dear Esther is very different than the one told by Avatar, but I see nothing stopping one to make a game with an Avatar like story, where all the "interaction" one has is moving around and looking around.

Obviously, there is a big semantic issue, like I was mentioning. Is such a game, as Dear Esther, considered a video game? There was big controversy around it, there is no real "gameplay", unless you consider the decision of how to look at the story a "gameplay" element. Similarly, an Avatar with a user controlled camera, would that be a film, a video game, something else?

This is where I believe the thread overlooked an important question? Don't we have this today already? If you call it a film where you can move the camera around, than no, we don't have a film like that, probably because a Film is not supposed to be that at all, or ever. So it seems Video Games are already closer to what you describe. If you play a game like Half-Life 2, there are a lot of times where scripted stories unfold, and you can choose to look at it from any angle, or even to ignore parts of it by moving away, or looking in the wrong direction. But, in such games, you are still an integral character of the universe, it breaks the 4th wall. This leaves us with a game like Dear Esther, one where you are a visitor, outsider, looking at a world and it's stories, but such a game already has a big controversy on if it should be qualified as a Video Game or not. So a lot of people are coining Interactive Art, though I feel that's a more general term, that could encompass both video games and such a thing this thread is talking about, but also a lot more.

Anyhow, the term is unimportant for now, but I think it's because we don't have a proper one, that it's hard for us to understand that we already have this, or could easily make it happen. All of the "Machinimas" (films made using game engines), could probably instantly be turned into a free floating camera film. Maybe that would make a good name for it, a Flim, i.e. free floating film.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 10:14 AM
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We already have 3D interactive stories for which you can change the angle of view, in fact, in most of them, you can even interact with the world and it's characters. Those are Video Games.
I agree.

For readers who are non-players, and are not currently aware that some modern games, are now essentially playable movies:

Some high specimens of recent games (rated at >80%) that behave as playable movies of sorts:
-- "Bioshock Infinite"
-- "Tomb Raider" (2013 version)
-- "Half Life 2" (2004)
You play them and a Hollywood-style story unfolds around as you play through. Some modern 3D games now have a story that's good enough to have the STORY feel (albiet not at this-decade's CGI level detail) of a $100 million dollar blockbuster movie (in a way) if you invest in a good GPU. More money is spent in the game industry than the Hollywood industry nowadays; and the storytelling in some recent games show the quality, although a lot of them are just plain FPS shooters.

In many of the above games, the cutscenes are seamless -- rendered by the 3D engine -- that integrate into whatever you are doing; and sometimes many cutscenes in modern games are replaced by you actually playing in the cutscene itself (e.g. imagine, you run use your game controller (or keyboard/mouse) to run down a hallway in an underwater building complex, with things exploding behind you, along with klaxon alarms, special effects, and a companion that's running next to you telling you "This way!", and you follow using your controller/mouse/keyboard, and then of a sudden a wall burst with realistic 3D-rendered water flooding the halls and you must actually grab that scuba gear you see in the room you are in before the water rise to the ceiling, etc, and so on.).

Big problem is amount of spare time to play these "playable movies". Today, modern storytelling-based FPS games now target at play completion of roughly 10 hours to 15 hours from start to end of story, at an average gameplay rate, few enough that you can savegame it over a few chapters/episodes, but not too many that people who have lack of time don't buy it. (There are some gems like the older "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" but easily taking 50 hours to play through -- almost too long for modern workers to bother).

The 10-to-15-hour storylines compromises the gamemakers have now settled on as the industry standard in playable stories -- is a good compromise given my busy non-hobby work time -- to play maybe about 4 complete games a year -- I usually stick to customer rated at >85%, are often eventually "must-play" games for me, but lately, there's been more games released that I'd love to play, than I'd ever have the time in my lifetime to play -- I'm not a kid in a dorm.

Also game purists can scream blasphemy at this, but you can also set a game to the Easy level to reduce focus on shooting (if you are bored of FPS aspects and don't like aiming a weapon more than 10% of the time) and increase focus on following/exploring the storyline -- and shorten a gameplay timescale to something like 8 to 12 hours for what is otherwise a 10 to 15 hour game. This becomes more manageable to busy 50-year-old executives who still wishes to play an occasional modern storyline-based video game, more for the interactive entertainment value.

The modern playlength of a single $60 videogame story (some games have a $50-$100 million budget) competes well with one season of a TV series (often equally $60 as a box set), and some people rather play the "Bioshock Infinite" storyline than watch, say, "House of Cards" series. Saving the game every chapter allows you to split a game's gameplay into multiple episodes, so you can continue the story at the next sitting. So it's possible to complete a game storyline episodically, in several 30-minute or 60-minute sittings -- even as an overworked full time worker with family.

Watch out for the bombs. For example, I wanted the new "Star Trek" video game (reportedly, it has a good storyline too) but it has so many bugs that it was not worth getting. Got rushed out of the door, got pummelled with bad reviews, getting something like only 30% or so.

Half Life 2, one of the last decade's best equivalent of "playable movies", is my favourite recommendation to non-players looking for an introduction to this type of "entertainment" (My spouse figured it out pretty quickly). It runs easily on most low-end computers today (as long as it's not a "Netbook"). It was graphically demanding in 2004, but even Intel IGP's play this game quite easily. Almost every computer made in the last few years are able to play it pretty well now, including, probably, the computer you are using to read this post. It is far more complicated than Pac Man and Tetris, yet simple enough for a computer novice user to figure out. It is not as graphically rich by modern standrds anymore but still nearly photorealistic (to Average Users who's never seen it running on their computers), and has a storyline that beats a lot of IMDB rating 7.0 movies, while not being too complex for non-players to eventually figure out how to play. You don't need to play Half Life Original to play Half Life 2 which is superior to the original in so many ways (that said, the original was very groundbreaking for its day). And you don't need to spend several hundred on your GPU necessary to have maximum detail and at framerates that's not lower than movie framerates -- Half Life 2 (Original), available for Mac/PC/Linux, easily plays at movie-worthy framerates even on a 3-year-old Macbook Air laptop.

Coincidentially, you can sorta view Avatar from any camera angle -- just get the Avatar video game (screenshots). Unfortunately, it's a very poor facsimile of the movie and the game rating (average 6/10 ratings) is not as good as the movie rating (average 8/10 ratings). But, it is graphically rich (by real-time GPU standards), and it's the closest thing to viewing Pandora scenes with your own custom camera angle.

Thanks,
Mark Rejhon

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BlurBusters Blog -- Eliminating Motion Blur by 90%+ on LCD for games and computers

Rooting for upcoming low-persistence rolling-scan OLEDs too!

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post #5 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by didibus View Post

We already have 3D interactive stories for which you can change the angle of view, in fact, in most of them, you can even interact with the world and it's characters. Those are Video Games.
I agree.

For readers who are non-players, and are not currently aware that some modern games, are now essentially playable movies:

Some high specimens of recent games (rated at >80%) that behave as playable movies of sorts:
-- "Bioshock Infinite"
-- "Tomb Raider" (2013 version)
-- "Half Life 2" (2004)

 

No, they don't.  They're still an interactive game with a part of it semi-scripted out.  This is a far FAR cry from having a movie first that has established a magic all it's own.

 

It's precisely *because* it's a feature film first that would make this special.

 

Basically, IF such an idea came out, it might go against the director's purist's notions of being in charge of how the scene is portrayed.  THAT I can see.

 

However, if it did come out anyway, feel free to sit on the sideline and say "nah, it's a video game and nothing more."  You'd be wrong, and I, for one, would still see the movie's magic in it.

 

The way I envision this is a 3D walk-around / view around / choose scenes and perspectives (again Jake Sully's eyes during the battle)----for whatever part is possible---- (this is still non-interactive).......and this is a version released long after the initial movie and it's magic have come and gone in the theaters.

 

Perhaps the scenes are fragmented far too much for this, perhaps not.  Even if you could chose a camera position diametrically opposing the existing virtual one used in the movie (behind the characters), it'd be darn cool to see.  Or hovering above.

 

But it's absolutely NO video game.


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post #6 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 12:29 PM
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No, they don't.  They're still an interactive game with a part of it semi-scripted out.  This is a far FAR cry from having a movie first that has established a magic all it's own.

It's precisely *because* it's a feature film first that would make this special.

Basically, IF such an idea came out, it might go against the director's purist's notions of being in charge of how the scene is portrayed.  THAT I can see.

However, if it did come out anyway, feel free to sit on the sideline and say "nah, it's a video game and nothing more."  You'd be wrong, and I, for one, would still see the movie's magic in it.

The way I envision this is a 3D walk-around / view around / choose scenes and perspectives (again Jake Sully's eyes during the battle)----for whatever part is possible---- (this is still non-interactive).......and this is a version released long after the initial movie and it's magic have come and gone in the theaters.

Perhaps the scenes are fragmented far too much for this, perhaps not.  Even if you could chose a camera position diametrically opposing the existing virtual one used in the movie (behind the characters), it'd be darn cool to see.  Or hovering above.

But it's absolutely NO video game.

This comes down to semantics again, and pretty much my entire point. Some video games like Dear Esther are starting to redefine the definition of video game itself, maybe a new name for this kind of thing will need to come out, maybe not. Obviously, Dear Esther is not built around a Film franchise, but the only thing you do in that game (if you are ok calling it that) is 3D walk-around / view around.

Non the less, I agree with you, and admit that almost 99.9% of current games are different to this, in that you influence the story by your interaction, as opposed to simply enhancing the possible ways of witnessing it.

You say that it is non interactive, but that is just contradictory. How would you walk around / look around if not by interacting? If all you want is choose a scene, and a viewpoint, I believe some Movies already do that, I remember watching Romeo Must Die the DVD, and it had as a special feature alternate camera angles for the final fight. This sounds a lot like what you want, viewing the final fight of Avatar in someone's else viewpoint.

So really, if all you want is more choice of viewpoints, that can already be done and is being done. It doesn't need any real time capabilities, if the Director took the time to film a scene with more than one camera angle, you would be able to do it. If you want to be able to alter the viewpoint in real time, and to accommodate for every possible viewpoint, than not only does it become interactive, but also would require CGI that are rendered in real time.

But think about it. Would it really be that cool to be a free floating camera inside a CGI movie? You'd need to spend your time moving around and looking around for the best angles, trying to not miss out on the story as you go along. I think if you are going to make such an experience, it needs to be an integral part of it, much more like what Dear Esther is doing. Or, you need to make the interaction more interesting, and not a catch up with the story kind of thing, which is what modern games are doing more and more. Finally, if you only want to enhance the story of a film, giving it more depth, I believe it's better to either let the Director create maybe one or two extra angle, that he think are all adding depth to the story and film experience. Or you could make an entire follow up movie, that tells the same tale but from another characters view point.
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post

The modern playlength of a single $60 videogame story (some games have a $50-$100 million budget) competes well with one season of a TV series (often equally $60 as a box set), and some people rather play the "Bioshock Infinite" storyline than watch, say, "House of Cards" series. Saving the game every chapter allows you to split a game's gameplay into multiple episodes, so you can continue the story at the next sitting. So it's possible to complete a game storyline episodically, in several 30-minute or 60-minute sittings -- even as an overworked full time worker with family.

This is a good point. It's actually a gripe I have with video games. I enjoy there story telling aspect a lot, but most of them are such a long investment for my busy schedule that I can't play them. I've never thought of it as a kind of Entire 5 Season of a TV show. It's true, it would take me the same amount of time to play through. I still am more of a movie man myself, for the same reason actually, I find it too long and time consuming to watch every episode of a TV Series. I wish a new type of game would come out, one that lasts 2-4 hours and is sold at a reduced price. I would play through those. They could have sequels or prequels just like movies do, I wouldn't mind. I also think it'd be interesting to have episodes, games that play 30 to 1 hour long, and can have new episodes every week or month.

Those games would need to be story oriented off course, and minimal "learning" would be needed to play through them, because I don't want to spend 1 hour every time to re-learn the controls or become good enough to fight through it. Unless they plan for that extra time when counting the total play through time.
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 02:03 PM
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I wish a new type of game would come out, one that lasts 2-4 hours and is sold at a reduced price. I would play through those.
Most games are only 4-6 hours long these days, and a "long" game is in the 8-12 hour range now.
The days of 20-30 hours being standard are long gone, and most of the games people put more hours into than that, are open-ended titles such as Skyrim. I know people that have put 60-120 hours into games like Skyrim, even though you can easily beat the main story in less than 10 hours, because there's enough there to keep you entertained for longer if you want it.

Frankly, I'm getting sick of games trying to be movies. The stories in most games aren't even b-tier made-for-tv movie quality - even a lot of the games that are praised for their storytelling.
The part that makes games interesting is that they are interactive. Restricting player control to watch a 5+ minute movie in the middle of my game is the last thing I want.
"Quick Time Events" are even worse, as they are cutscenes lying about being gameplay - they're really just short videos which require you to press buttons at a certain time or you have to watch the video again.

The previously mentioned Half Life 2 is actually an example of doing things well, as control is rarely taken away from the player, and the entire game is presented in first person.

You may want to check out Telltale Games' The Walking Dead game. It's episodic, with five 2-3 hour episodes that had at least two or three good "break" sections in them, if you find that too long. It was also released as one episode a month, rather than the whole thing coming out as a full package, which I liked.
Ironically, this is one of the most "film-like" games with little interaction, and full of QTEs, but the storytelling is good enough to make it worthwhile. (far better than the TV show)
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

Most games are only 4-6 hours long these days, and a "long" game is in the 8-12 hour range now.
This is true for an experienced player, and when you do things with less exploring.
Games that are known to play short, such as Crysis (many took only 7 hours), still took me 12-15 hours to go through, as I took my time with those sort of games.

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 11:24 PM
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This is true for an experienced player, and when you do things with less exploring.
Games that are known to play short, such as Crysis (many took only 7 hours), still took me 12-15 hours to go through, as I took my time with those sort of games.
I hadn't heard that about Crysis. How Long To Beat is a pretty useful site as an adult who doesn't have 8 hours a day to play games.
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post #11 of 11 Old 07-14-2013, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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This is true for an experienced player, and when you do things with less exploring.
Games that are known to play short, such as Crysis (many took only 7 hours), still took me 12-15 hours to go through, as I took my time with those sort of games.
I hadn't heard that about Crysis. How Long To Beat is a pretty useful site as an adult who doesn't have 8 hours a day to play games.

 

Pretty cool idea.  I love the "save the parents" style of website and books.  It's a lot easier than trying to follow in your kids' footsteps and somehow hope to not have wasted your own life away figuring things out.


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