The Game Developers Conference and its companion Virtual Reality Developers Conference were the focus of week’s developments.
AI Assisted Raytracing Made Easy
It seems like its only been a matter of weeks since several research papers arrived promising that neural-network powered denoising algorithms would make real-time ray tracing a reality. But this exciting new tech is already coming to popular tools thanks to several companies that spell their names in all caps.
NVIDIA took the wraps off its new RTX rendering technology, which allows real-time raytracing features to be mixed with fast rasterization techniques needed for game rendering. ILMxLAB made a humorous demonstration with Captain Phasma providing the reflective surface:
The tech is used to render dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion, and a reflection probes. It can work in real time because it only renders 1 sample per pixel (SPP) and then smooths it out with AI de-noising. Unfortunately, it’s still very heavy and likely won’t work for VR yet. However, it will be supported in both Unreal and Unity so developers can experiment with it easily. It will also likely accelerate the growth of real time graphics in visual effects and architectural visualization by further narrowing the gap with pre-rendered imagery. The following video best illustrates what RTX does:
Meanwhile, OTOY announced Octane Render 4, which integrates their Brigade real-time path tracer with Octane, and also brings AI denoising into play, which allows scenes to render in mere seconds. The demonstration below has all the details (but annoyingly, no audio, so you have to read the slides quickly):
OTOY also updated their Unity integration with new features, including a rough beta of a light baking tool. Pricing for Octane 4 is lower now as well: the free version has no watermark and a “pro” version is $20/month.
Path tracing everything in real time would enable perfect lens correction and foveated rendering for VR, but sadly it looks like there’s still a long slog to get to real time performance in VR (eye tracking will help).
#DXR #Raytracing #dankmemes pic.twitter.com/y5a0E7IYx0
— Tobias A. Franke (@thefranke) March 23, 2018
Magic Leap Opens Creator Portal
You can sign up here. An overview of the information revealed by the SDK and a workflow overview on the Unity blog give a good impression of what has been made available. One of the most interesting features of Magic Leap is multitasking. Multiple applications can run in immersive 3D within the Lumin Runtime environment. However, Unity and Unreal applications must run by themselves, for now. The device features finger tracking in addition to its single 6 degrees of freedom controller. By default it offers recognition of 8 standard gestures.
The dawn of real, bona-fide spatial computing is so close, I feel I could reach out and not touch it
— ᴛɪᴍᴏɴɪ ᴡᴇsᴛ (@timoni) March 21, 2018
Oculus allowed hand-on demos with Oculus Go and a new Santa Cruz prototype. Reviews for both were glowing. Here is Tested’s hands-on with the Go:
The Santa Cruz controllers have been redesigned for consistency with Oculus Touch, ditching the trackpad in favor of the tried-and-true face buttons and thumb stick, much to the relief of those of us who want to support both platforms with minimum fuss.
While Oculus Go has similar internals as a Galaxy S7, the extra control Oculus gets by owning the hardware have resulted in some nice wins. The display can refresh at 72hz, up from 60hz on Gear VR, and the device supports “fixed foveated rendering”, which reduces the resolution around the edges of the display where distortion from the lenses wastes pixels. According to Oculus, this can increase performance by up to 25%.
Oculus’s @c_pruett describing the new Fixed Foveated Rendering features. I’ve used this on the Oculus Go and elsewhere, and it’s a fantastic performance boost! pic.twitter.com/Ia0MYZpUko
— E McNeill (@E_McNeill) March 21, 2018
Vive Pro Pricing Revealed
The Vive Pro will go on sale for $799 on April 5th. The original Vive drops to $499. Europeans will have to pay more as usual, 799 GPB or 879 Euros. Needless to say there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth over the price, but the Vive price cut is a pretty good consolation prize, given that few have the computing hardware to take advantage of the Pro’s extra resolution.
#VR Quick Maths
1x Vive Pro HMD=
2x Rift Touch Bundles OR
4x Oculus Go HMDs
— Mike – VR OASIS (@vr_oasis) March 21, 2018
Introducing Virtual Wearables pic.twitter.com/LPvknKBlnO
— Keiichi Matsuda (@keiichiban) March 22, 2018