It’s been a big year for developments in CGI technology and capabilities. Here are four of the eye-popping achievements that 3D professionals should keep close tabs on going into 2016.
Brave Mount Everest—Without Leaving Your Desk
NVIDIA, maker of computer graphics hardware, announced that 2016 will be a great year for (virtual) mountain climbers. The company’s hardware is being used by Solfar Studios and firm RVX to create what they’re calling the “definitive” model of Mount Everest, the Earth’s highest mountain.
This CGI masterpiece will drop in 2016 and consists of over 300,000 different images of Everest. These are combined to create what these CGI wizards hope will be the most accurate and realistic depiction of Everest to-date—outside of actually reaching the summit. Right now, it appears the experience will be available on PCs. But with virtual reality tech coming quickly to market from a number of firms, we’d love to see the full Everest experience on an Oculus Rift so we could view this CGI masterpiece in full virtual reality.
Skin in the Game
It’s really difficult to make really realistic CGI skin for human beings in films and video games. But that might be about to change. Researchers at the University of South Carolina in the United States just pioneered a way to computer-generate extremely lifelike skin effects. The tech could help anyone who represents human faces on a screen—from Hollywood to Silicon Valley—much more realistically than before.
To create the technology, researchers got up close and personal to real human faces. They scanned human faces down to the infinitesimally small 10-micron level. Then they determined how all the various micro-elements of the face (pores, imperfections, wrinkles, etc.) would actually look when different facial expressions occurred.
Fancy Meeting You Here, Ms. Hepburn
CGI experts aren’t just developing better-looking anonymous faces. They’re trying to resurrect people the whole world recognizes. That’s the idea behind work done by Framestore, the firm responsible for much of the CGI in the hit film Gravity. A cofounder of the company, Mike McGee, hinted the company is exploring how to insert hyper-realistic CGI models of famous celebrities and actors into everything from movies to commercials. There’s serious interest in the technology from the film industry, actors / actresses and marketers.
McGee believes this type of digital resurrection will become widespread in entertainment and marketing. After all, he and his firm are investing in that future: in 2013, according to TechRadar, Framestore created an advertisement starring legendary actress Audrey Hepburn. She died in 1993.
CGI innovators didn’t stop there. Now, they can transfer your face onto someone else’s. Researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Max Planck Institute for Infographics and Stanford University created technology that allows one actor to swap faces with another on-screen.
To better understand the technology, here’s an example. Take two veteran actors, say Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Cage would have his face scanned by the technology these researchers created, while acting. The scan would then be transferred to Travolta’s face in real-time so that Cage’s face, mannerisms, lip movements and expressions would be overlaid on Travolta’s face. Cage would functionally have taken his face off and put it on Travolta.
Basically, you can swap your face onto another person’s over video with a high degree of realism.
That has some big implications. According to Bustle, the breakthrough could have wide-ranging applications in film and video communication. For instance, CGI could take an even more leading role, as it did in Gravity. For instance, Bustle points out that this is perfect for real-time translation, so that dubbed audio syncs with an on-screen person’s mouth movements.
These are just a few of the most recent developments in CGI technology. Are there any others you’re keeping a close eye on? Let us know in the comments.
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Image source: Engadget