Even if you don’t explicitly know the name, you’ve probably seen “Digital Ira” once or twice before. He’s the bald guy that keeps popping up in all of those incredibly impressive “next-gen” facial rendering demoes.
And now, you get to render Digital Ira on your own PC, provided you’re packing the requisite hardware. Nvidia recommends a GTX 670 or higher – though it will chug along on slower and older cards, provided they’re CUDA capable, DirectX 11 devices (so pretty much a 400-series or higher). You can download the 309MB tech demo directly from NVIDIA.
Nvidia says it was all done using a new, state-of-the-art method of performance capture, using a light stage instead of the traditional mesh of balls superglued to an actor’s face.
“This demonstration highlights the state of the art in performance capture. All Ira”s motions were acted out in a "light stage" at the Institute for Creative Technology at USC,” says Nvidia. “The team there headed by Dr. Paul Debevec is able to photographically capture facial geometry, surface detail, and lighting information of an actor without any of the traditional tricks of face markers or special makeup.”
“This light stage data is pulled into NVIDIA”s demo engine, and using FaceWorks rendering technology we witness a realism of human facial rendering never before seen in real time. FaceWorks shading gives Ira lifelike skin, eyes, lips and teeth. Adaptive tessellation keeps the curves of his face perfectly smooth.”
Give it a bash, and let us know how well Digital Ira works for you. It’s still probably quite a while before we see facial rendering of this calibre in actual games. In fact, we’re still waiting for games to look like the tech demoes from 10 years ago – but it’ll come. One day.
And so will Darryn. One day.
Last Updated: May 13, 2013