Posted by STLR, 4 August 2010 7:00 pm
Well I think I'm finally recovered from the craziness of Siggraph last week. This year was my 12th. It was a good show in general. Being in LA, it was definitely bigger than last year in New Orleans... although New Orleans was more fun :) Regardless, I don't think Siggraph will ever be what it was in the glory days of the late 90's. That's back when SGI, Intergraph, Alias, Discreet, Softimage, etc... were all competing for attention on the show floor. Those were some big... and loud shows.
Autodesk co-sponsored a party with Blur Studios again this year and (as usual) Crystal Method headlined. I think those guys are older than me! No offense to the guys at Blur but the party was annoying... tired music, crabby staff, and impossible to get a drink. What is the point of having an open bar if it takes an hour (literally) to get a friggen drink? I'd rather just pay for it and move on. Note to self... next time bring a flask ;)
As usual I didn't have any free time to attend any of the sessions. I spent all my time either doing stage demos on the show floor or meeting privately with customers. I also got the chance to meet some of my new co-workers from Illuminate Labs (creators of Turtle and Beast). As you've probably heard by now Autodesk announced the acquisition the week before Siggraph -> Illuminate Labs announcement
We also made an announcement at Siggraph that Turtle will be part of our upcoming -> Entertainment Creation Suites Premium for Maya. Here is a sneak peak of the Turtle UI in 2011...
For those of you that aren't familiar with Turtle, it is a rendering and baking plug-in for Maya. It can be used to create final images, but it is predominantly used in game development for light map baking. It allows you to create very high quality results, including effects such as ambient occlusion and global illumination. But unlike MentalRay, it is easy to use and quite fast. I work with a lot of customers who use it and all can attest to its speed for high quality light map generation. Titles for which Turtle was used include Tomb Raider Underworld, WET, Mass Effect, Killzone and God of War III, just to name a few.
I'm no Turtle expert (not yet anyway) but if you're interested in seeing how it works, check out these tutorials...
And then there is Beast (coolest product name ever). Beast is also a games focused tool that is used for rendering out high quality lighting effects and baking out maps. It is based on the same GI core as the Turtle renderer. One key difference from Turtle is that it is not dependant on Maya. Instead there is a tool included with Beast called "eRnsT" that allows you to interactively setup your lights and tweak various lighting parameters to preview the results. Another key difference with Beast is that it includes an API, allowing for integration into any game engine. Additionally it is already fully integrated into Unreal Engine 3, as well as Gamebryo LightSpeed.
Here is a nice example movie of eRnsT which shows off the ability to interactively visualize global illumination, shadows and other lighting effects.
Stay tuned for an actual demo of Turtle in Maya 2011... I just need a few weeks to learn it first :)
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