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AMD Cinema 2.0 tech demo: real-time photo-realistic human models


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At first, this image may seem rather boring. Who's this woman and why is she on the front page of Joystiq? This image is rather uneventful until two facts are revealed: a) she's a CG creation and b) she's being rendered in real time with new AMD technology. AMD's new effort, "Cinema 2.0," promises to bring photorealistic graphics that blend the visual fidelity found only in the most recent of Hollywood movies to the interactive space. AMD is imagining a future where consumers won't just play movies, they'll play in them.

While practical applications of "Cinema 2.0" weren't showcased at AMD's recent event in New York, the company executives were keen on noting how the tech can be implemented. Movie producers will be able to manipulate digital actors that are more realistic than ever -- in a rendering environment that happens in real-time. Gamers will be able to find character models and environments that are truly lifelike.

Gallery: AMD Cinema 2.0 | 8 Photos

The demonstration we saw in New York did prove that this technology is very real. A very human model, one that would put the efforts of Square Enix to shame, had all sorts of dynamic lighting applied to it. But how is it that AMD has managed to create such a realistic human character model, while Hollywood still struggles to create true human actors with a gigantic rendering pipeline?

Obviously, new hardware is part of the solution. More processing power has always meant more realistic visuals. However, there's another trick: a globe-shaped room that feature rapid high-definition photography from all angles. These cameras can capture surface detail to a level that surpasses human touch. These cameras operate so quickly that to the naked eye, they appear as solid lights, when in fact they are flashing on and off at fractions of a second. The information captured by these cameras can then be interpreted into 3D data. Here's the same woman we featured as these cameras capture her:

Once the digital actor is captured, directors (and game players) will be able to manipulate them how they see fit. Some truly science fiction applications were mentioned during the presentation, like the ability to recreate Star Trek's Holodeck. We're not holding our breath for that, but this stunning technology does appear to be a revolutionary leap forward in rendering technology.

While AMD will tout that this technology is available "now" for everyone, that is far from the realistic truth. As with all advancements in 3D technology, the availability of new graphics hardware doesn't necessarily mean they'll be utilized by developers. For example, how many games push PC graphics cards to the levels of Crysis ... other than another Crysis?

Developers from Splash Damage, Crytek, Rebellion, Remedy (yes, they're still making Alan Wake) and even Blizzard were highlighted in the presentation as partners of AMD. While it's clear that this impressive technology will be used, the real question is when will gamers see real playable products on store shelves? That may be years off ... and who knows if competitors will be able to produce equally impressive visuals on an even larger scale by then? Until then, enjoy the eye candy.

Hundreds of high-definition rapid-firing cameras help create the impressive 3D models used in the AMD demo.
Images Provided by Paul Debevec and the Institute of Creative Technologies Graphics Research Lab

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