Speaking at last night’s Nvidia GPU Technology Conference the graphics card manufacturer showed their true face to the world, they revealed that they’ve managed to trap a head inside a computer, that, or they’ve managed to create a very true-to-life representation of a human head out of graphics. So, if you recognise the man they’re calling ‘Ira’ in the video below you need to contact the authorities, there may still be time to reattach his head to his body or, at the very least, to some other fleshy object (as was managed with Van Gogh’s ear).
Footage of Ira kicks off at the 8.40 mark:
In previous years these sorts of tech demos would usually be prerendered videos but the big sell of this Face Works footage is that it is being rendered live at the event. Of course, it needs to be noted that A) the scene is exceedingly simple, other than Ira’s head (which lacks any render-demanding hair) there is a basic backdrop and a minimal lighting rig, and B) it’s being rendered on an Nvidia Titan, the most powerful consumer graphics card on the market and one which will set you back £800. These two wee caveats in mind it’s clearly not a real-world environment, game developers couldn’t devote as much rendering power to a face like Ira’s in-game because they’d need to also be rendering other characters, complex scenes, particle effects, fancy sunsets, et al.
Besides all that, it is one impressive floating head, one to rival the best of the floating heads – Zordon, Jor-El, and, of course, Mort – the skin doesn’t have that eerie sheen of the last generation and seems to be going for the sub-surface scattering skin rendering that we first saw at work in the Unreal Engine 4 tech demo a ways back. Plus the way it flexes as Ira’s facial expression changes is extremely naturalistic, it seems fleshy; there’s just the right stretch to it.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing some trickle down of this tech in future games. That is unless Nvidia’s engineers simply caved this year and hired an actor and a green screen and played us all for saps…