PhD Student Unlocks the Secret to the Future of Gaming – Producing Realistic Human Skin

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PhD Student Unlocks the Secret to the Future of Gaming – Producing Realistic Human Skin

The future of gaming is upon us.  An impressive demo was released last week by Jorge Jimenez, featuring his work in real-time graphics and special effects as a PhD student at the Universidad de Zaragoza (University of Zaragoza) under the supervision of Diego Gutierrez.

Jorge Jimenez developed a technology called Separable Subsurface Scattering (SSS), designed for human skin in video games.  SSS was created to produce more realistic-looking humans, emulating the way light plays on human skin.  Wired.co.uk uses the example of a torch and its appearance upon human skin – “while you can’t see through your hand, if you put a torch up to it then it’ll glow through, and it’s this process that SSS is trying to emulate.”  The video demo of this technology is definitely something to check out.  (Be sure to set it on HD or download the blu-ray quality version!)

Jorge Jimenez states that his months of research taught him an important lesson:

Efforts towards rendering ultra realistic skin are futile if they are not coupled with HDR, high quality bloom, depth of field, film grain, tone mapping, ultra high quality models, parameterization maps, high quality shadow maps […] and a high quality antialiasing solution.  If you fail on any of them, the illusion of looking at a real human will be broken.  Specially on close-ups at 1080p, that is where the real skin rendering challenge is.

Although studios like Pixar have used technology like this for a while, Jorge Jimenez’s research could be revolutionary for future gaming systems like the Xbox 720 and PS4 since “[he worked] out a way of doing it in computers with far lower specs in real-time.”  Jimenez says the next important breakthrough will be in rendering “realistic facial hair.”

Screen Space Subsurface Scattering 1024x575 PhD Student Unlocks the Secret to the Future of Gaming – Producing Realistic Human Skin

An image from Jimenez's earlier work in Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering.

KitGuru says: Jorge Jimenez is an individual to keep your eye on.  His publications and achievements can be viewed on his page, and his projects are quite something to look at.  Jimenez says, “It will be my dream if my skin research helps to improve the rendering of humans in games; I truly believe that more realistic characters will inevitably lead to deeper storytelling, and more emotionally-driven games.”

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