Activision Shows Off Impressive Real-Time Rendering for Animated Characters

Video gameplay is about to get a lot more realistic. Game producer Activision unveiled this new demo yesterday at the Game Developers Conference. Uncanny or not, the progresss in computer animation has been remarkable. Real-time rendering techniques today look far more impressive than any rendering from a decade ago:

This animated character is being rendered in real-time on current video card hardware, using standard bone animation. The rendering techniques, as well as the animation pipeline are being presented at GDC 2013, “Next Generation Character Rendering” on March 27. The original high resolution data was acquired from Light Stage Facial Scanning and Performance Capture by USC Institute for Creative Technologies, then converted to a 70 bones rig, while preserving the high frequency detail in diffuse, normal and displacement composite maps. It is being rendered in a DirectX11 environment, using advanced techniques to faithfully represent the character’s skin and eyes.

More details on Jorge Jimenez’s blog.


  • Rufus

    Christ. This will cause havoc in the next 10 years.

  • William Joseph Dunn

    AAAAAAARRRGH!!!! Robo Tom Colicchio!!!! Run!!!

  • jonhanson

    I scrubbed through the entire video looking for the animation before I realized I was looking at the animation!

  • RickyB

    Someday, technology will help them solve that wall-eyed look.

  • Richard

    Whoa.

  • Deaniac

    THE UNCANNY VALLEY COMETH. It should be mentioned that the sinister sounding music does not help at all.

  • cass

    The mouth still goes a bit uncanny valley at times – but that could easily be dealt with using proper shot framing. Still, seriously impressive.

  • http://beesbuzz.biz/ fluffy

    This is really impressive, but at the same time, I wonder why it’s so hard for anyone to get speaking lips right. That’s the only place this really falls flat for me.

    • bWWd

      ITs because topology does not look like actual muscles on face, it would always look fake if topology is wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/gradeafun Grady Williams

    Beautiful, How many studios are going to be able to exploit this technology? What is the cost? Man hours to develop this level of art to make characters/ environment/ fx and interactivity at this level? Humm.

  • Eman

    It is very expensive and time consuming it is to pull this nonsense off.
    Games that do push for this will probably never see a proper financial return. Even if their games sell millions in the first month.

  • http://www.moviecappa.com/ Mike Caracappa

    Don’t tell Robert Zemekis.

  • CG_Animator

    You know, for all the work they put into this, keyframe animation STILL looks better. The stuff that Blizzard did for that DIABLO cinematic, which used NO mocap, is 100x better looking then this.

  • http://blog.boogatech.com/ Markham

    If you look closely, you can sometimes see the mind-controlling parasite when he opens his mouth.

  • John Vukelic

    The first time we see a rendering of this quality transform before our eyes into some demonic creature (as all good video games characters do at some point in the game) its going to “freak-da-bejesus” out of me.