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New Method Accelerates Subsurface Scattering for Computer Graphics

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:52AM

Materials are a very important concept in many games, as changing the material of an object can dramatically affect its appearance. Still, getting the appearance right can be very difficult because of how light passes through the material, like flesh. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology and Activision-Blizzard though have developed a means to take this into account, without resulting in a significant performance hit.

Subsurface scattering is exactly what it sounds like; the scattering of light beneath the surface. A classic example would be the red we see if we put our fingers in front of a light. To correctly emulate this in a graphics engine would require calculating the scattering for numerous light rays, which is too much to do in real-time. To simplify the process and make it useable with modern hardware, the researchers developed Separable Subsurface Scattering (SSSS). This method works by simulating a single light ray to create a filter profile. This profile can then be applied to the image repeatedly, and very quickly. On a full HD image, it would add just half a millisecond of time on standard hardware, which makes it viable for video, unlike previous methods that took too much computing time.

As you may be able to guess, Activision-Blizzard is already using SSSS, but it will not be limited to the one company. It is to be presented in the journal, Computer Graphics Forum so every developer will be free to use it.



Source: Vienna University of Technology

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