Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games


Welcome to the fourth generation of this course, presented at SIGGRAPH 2009 on Monday, August 3rd, 2009!  (Previous years’ course contents can be found here for those who are interested). The course was presented as a two-part course (Part I and Part II), covering a series of topics on the best innovations and practical techniques prevalent in state-of-the-art rendering of several award-winning games and forward-thinking rendering research that will be found in the games of tomorrow.

Advances in the real-time graphics research and the ever-increasing power of mainstream GPUs and consoles continues to generate an explosion of innovative algorithms suitable for fast, interactive rendering of complex and engaging virtual worlds. Every year the latest video games display a vast variety of sophisticated algorithms resulting in ground-breaking 3D rendering pushing the visual boundaries and interactive experience of rich environments. The focus of this course lies in bridging the game development community and the state-of-the-art 3D graphics research, encouraging cross-pollination of knowledge for future games and other interactive applications.

This course is the fourth installment in the now-established series of SIGGRAPH courses on real-time rendering, bringing the best of graphics practices and research from the game development community, and providing practical and production-proven algorithms. This year, the course includes speakers from the makers of several award-winning games, such as Bungie, Media Molecule, Crytek, Black Rock Studio; as well as representative from leading graphics IHVs. The topics cover practical methods of global illumination, postmortem on lessons learned throughout development of an award-winning game, designing pipeline for rendering thousands of lights in real-time, techniques for effective foliage and shadow rendering and many other ‘bleeding-edge’ production secrets!

Course Content

Full Course Notes PDF (To appear in the near future…)

Morning session (Part I)

Chen, Tatarchuk – Lighting Research at Bungie

Abstract: The talk focuses on the latest directions for lighting research in Bungie, such as high-quality real time lighting with advanced atmospheric rendering and continuous time of day, as well as efficient prefilterable soft shadows. The speakers will also explore fast methods for generation of pre-computed global illumination using modern GPUs.

Slides, Course Notes Chapter PDF (to appear…)
Kaplanyan – Light Propagation Volumes in CryEngine 3

Abstract: In this talk a new technique for real-time computation of the first bounce of diffuse global illumination will be introduced. We present the light propagation volume - a completely dynamic solution using spherical harmonics irradiance volumes for light field finite-element approximation, point-based infusive volumetric rendering and a new light propagation approach.

Our implementation proves that it is possible to use this solution efficiently even with the current generation of console hardware. Because this technique doesn't require any preprocessing stages and fully supports dynamic lighting/scene/cameras, it's possible to harmoniously integrate it into an extremely complex cross-platform engine (CryEngine 3) with a large set of graphics technologies without requiring additional production time.

Slides, Course Notes Chapter PDF (to appear…), Video: Global Illumination (Download AVI), Video: Massive Lighting (Download AVI)

Engel – The Light Pre-Pass Renderer: Renderer Design for Efficient Support of Multiple Lights

Abstract: This talk will describe a renderer design that allows a huge number of lights while being very efficient on the current generation of graphics hardware. This technique provides easy support for MSAA, as well as allows significantly larger number of dynamic lights as compared to other rendering styles (for example, as forward rendering or typical deferred rendering). An additional benefit of this renderer pipeline is lower bandwidth utilization. Our technique can be implemented on a wide variety of consumer graphics hardware, including scaling the technique to work on DirectX8-level hardware.

The talk covers the idea behind the design and outlines the advantages and disadvantages of this renderer design when compared to a Z Pre-Pass renderer or a Deferred Renderer. We will cover practical examples of this renderer as utilized in popular video games developed by such companies as Crytek, DICE, GSC World and Insomniac, among some. We will also cover future directions and modifications of the original technique.

Slides, Course Notes Chapter PDF (to appear…)

Afternoon session (Part II)

Moore, Jefferies – Rendering Technology at Black Rock Studios

Abstract: This talk will describe a number of graphics techniques used for the upcoming Disney Entertainment game “Pure”. These will include the method for rendering ground cover in Pure to add detail to the playable surface and give the tracks an organic feel, including plants, grass and small shrubs; applying irradiance volumes as a post-process; G-buffer MSAA edge detection using centroid interpolation sampling; and GPU management of a memory pool.  Additionally, the talk will also cover the methods for integrating deferred shading and shadowing in Split / Second, and using irradiance volumes for lighting.

Slides, Course Notes Chapter PDF (to appear…), Video: Pure (No Foliage), Video: Pure (With Foliage), Video: Split / Second

Yang – When Fuzzy is Good: Advances in Filtering Techniques

Abstract: We will present current rendering research at AMD in anti-aliasing (AA), glossy rendering, and depth of field. The latest generation of graphics hardware provides direct access to multisample anti-aliasing rendering data. By taking advantage of these existing pixel subsample values, reconstruction filters can be computed using programmable GPU shader units. Summed-area tables are a data structure that can be leveraged to implement spatially-varying, constant-time filtering. When used in the standard “forward” direction, they can be used to approximate glossy reflections and image-based lighting. When used in the “reverse” direction, they can be used to implement a novel technique we refer to as filter spreading, which naturally mimics the effects of real lenses, such as a limited depth of field.

Slides, Video: Raytracing, Video: Summed Area Tables

Evans – Graphics Engine Postmortem from LittleBigPlanet

In this presentation, the makers of the award-winning LittleBigPlanet will describe some of the lessons learned and production decisions behind the graphics engine that made the immensely customizable and cohesively stylized world of LittleBigPlanet possible.

Slides, Course Notes Chapter PDF (to appear…), Video 1, Video 2

Course Organizer

Natalya Tatarchuk, Bungie, LLC

Course Lectures

  • Hao Chen, Bungie, LLC
    • Hao Chen is the graphics architect and one of the engineering leads for Bungie Studio, where he currently leads the research and development of Bungie’s next generation graphics engine. He was the graphics engineering lead of Halo 3. Prior to that, Hao has worked on numerous game titles for Microsoft and Bungie on the Xbox and PC platforms, including Outwars, AMPED1, AMPED2, and Halo2.

  • Natalya Tatarchuk, Bungie, LLC
    • Natalya Tatarchuk is a graphics architect at Bungie where she's working on state of the art next-gen game graphics algorithms. Previously she was a graphics software architect and a project lead in the Game Computing Application Group at AMD Graphics Products Group (Office of the CTO) where she pushed parallel computing boundaries investigating innovative real-time graphics techniques. Additionally, she had been the lead of ATI’s demo team creating the innovative interactive renderings and the lead for the tools group at ATI Research.

  • Alex Evans, Media Molecule
    • Alex Evans is Technical Director at Media Molecule. He is universally acknowledged as one of the games industry’s technical innovators. A graduate of Cambridge University, Alex got his first taste of the software industry working at Bullfrog Productions during his holidays. On graduating, he joined Lionhead Studios full time and fast became a key member of the team, developing cutting-edge graphics technology for titles such as Black & White, Black & White 2, The Movies and The Room. His R&D work led to his invitation into Microsoft’s exclusive “Graphics Arbitration Board", a small group of top developers who help shape the future of 3D graphics on the PC. By night Alex turns his creativity to a more musical direction and his visuals and films have been shown around the world, most notably, on tour with Warp Records and the London Sinfonietta.
    • Alex's technical contributions to the cult PC internet game Live For Speed and Mark Healey's Rag Doll Kung Fu, along with his longstanding links with the demo scene (where he is known as Bluespoon) inspired him to develop games in a small and highly creative environment. In 2006 Alex co-founded Media Molecule with the Rag Doll Kung Fu collaborators Mark Healey, Dave Smith and Kareem Ettouney.

  • Anton Kaplanyan, Crytek GmbH
    • Anton Kaplanyan is a software engineer and member of the Research Team at Crytek. During the development of CryEngine 3 he was responsible for multiple researches on graphics and performance optimizations for current generation of consoles. Currently he is busy working on the next iteration of the engine to keep pushing future PC and next-gen console technology. Prior to joining Crytek he received his M.S. in Computer Science at Moscow University of Electronic Engineering, Russia in early 2007.

  • Jeremy Moore, Black Rock Studio
    • Jeremy Moore is the lead engine programmer for the Core Technology Group at Black Rock Studio in Brighton, UK. He has been working in the games industry for over a decade with spells at Mirage Technologies, Blade Interactive Studios and Video System. At Black Rock he spent four years working on SCEA's ATV Offroad Fury games on both PS2 and PSP. Amongst other things he was responsible for the acclaimed network play implementation. He now specializes in real-time graphics.

  • David Jefferies, Black Rock Studio
    • David Jefferies is the technical director of Split/Second at Black Rock Studio in Brighton, UK. He started off as a programmer at Psygnosis in 1995, where he worked on the Global Domination and Wipeout 3 teams. After a time at Rare, David joined Black Rock in 2003 where he has led the technical development of MotoGP'06, MotoGP'07 and Split/Second.

  • Jason Yang, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
    • Jason Yang is a Member of Technical Staff in AMD’s Office of the CTO focusing on parallel computing using graphics processors. He is currently the technical lead for game physics on the GPU. Other projects he has been involved with include HD video decoding, shader based anti-aliasing, encryption, and Stream Computing. He received his PhD in computer science and his BS in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 and 1999 respectively.

  • Wolfgang Engel, Rockstar Games
    • Wolfgang was working for the last four years in Rockstar's core technology group as the lead graphics programmer. Now he is taking a sabbatical to do some research into next-gen graphics. He is the editor of the ShaderX books, the author of several other books and loves to talk about graphics programming. He is also a MVP DirectX since July 2006 and active in several advisory boards in the industry.

For an encore presentation of all the course content outlined above, please visit the SIGGRAPHEncore page to download and view each presentation in video form.
I Shot You First! 

Posted by urk at 3/28/2011 3:59 PM PDT

Gameplay Networking in Halo: Reach.

In case you missed David Aldridge's infamous GDC performance, we just uploaded all the slides and we're ready to show them off in all their epic glory. There's even a few extra sections Aldridge didn't have the time to delve into included for good measure. Be fair warned, though. The full file is more than 500 megabytes large. If you're conserving bandwidth, try the tiny file on for size first and see how it suits you.

"Gameplay networking is easy once you have a socket open!" Find out all the things that are wrong with that statement in this gripping tale of the perilous minefield that lies between sockets and game code. This talk describes in detail the patterns and processes that have allowed Bungie to repeatedly set new standards for gameplay networking quality. Come see how we develop competitive game mechanics that are fun over the Internet, learn what kinds of network introspection tools you need to build into your next online game, and marvel at the low-tech way we measure lag."

I Shot You First! Gameplay Networking in Halo: Reach

The Animation of Halo: Reach 

Posted by urk at 3/14/2011 10:25 AM PDT

Straight outta GDC.

If you're ready to get your Monday morning learn on, Joe and Tam are ready to do some certified teachifying. The dynamic duo combined powers to deliver a super-sized talk at GDC, and as a result their presentation deck is no small download, clocking in at 444MB. If you have the bandwidth, and the desire to learn about how Joe and Tam helped make Halo: Reach's character performances all kinds of awesome, click the link below and get to downloading.

"With the goal in mind to improve the character performances in Halo: Reach we discuss the challenges we overcame and the concessions we made to ship on time and on budget with better quality. Bungie developed many new solutions with both process and technology to solve animation problems we had in the past. This lecture outlines the most prominent issues and provides highlights of our approach."

The Animation of Halo: Reach

Tags: Publications


Ten Years of Keeping People Working at Bungie 

Posted by urk at 9/22/2010 11:53 AM PDT

Return of Noguchi.

Senior Programmer Mat Noguchi speaks out on life, love, and ten years of working with tools at Bungie. In this talk, produced for Gamesauce
in 2010, Noguchi covers one of Bungie’s critical engine components – the tag system. He also swears. A lot.

Ten Years of Keeping People Working at Bungie

Tags: Publications


How to be a Better Leader 

Posted by urk at 4/5/2010 9:19 AM PDT

By Brian Sharp.

Eventually, we'll house the high res take on Sharp's talk, but if you need some leadership advice like now, hit the jump to tune in. If you're looking for Reach details, or even pretty screenshots, this isn't your cup of tea. This one's all about learning.

GDC 2010 - Concrete Practices to be a Better Leader

Design in Detail 

Posted by urk at 3/26/2010 9:58 AM PDT

Jaime Griesemer sounds off on the Sniper Rifle.

Bungie's resident Gameplay Guru, Jaime Griesemer, analyzes a seemingly insignificant data point, explores it in exhaustive detail, and explains precisely how and why you should follow in his contrails if you're willing to make the hard choices and want to develop your own supernatural sense of balance. Publications - Design in Detail

Tags: Publications



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