In this important moment of my life, the day has come to end my skin research in order to take a new professional direction.
These last months I’ve learned a very 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, parametrization 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.
As some subtleties (like the film grain) are lost on the online version, I encourage to download the original blu-ray quality version below, to better appreciate the details and effects rendered (but be aware that you will need a powerful computer to play it). Please note that everything is rendered in real-time; in fact, you can also download a precompiled version of the demo (see below), which shows the shot sequence of the movie, from its beginning to its ending. The whole demo runs between 80 and 160 FPS, with an average of 112.5 FPS on my GeForce GTX 580. But it can be run in weaker configurations by using more modest settings.
The main idea behind the new separable SSS approach is that you can get very similar results to the full 12-pass approach ([Eon07]) by just using a regular two-pass setup. It can be done in screen space and is really really fast (you may want to see this related post). I hope to write something about this in the future. However, the source code of whole demo is readily available on GitHub.
For the demo I’ve used SMAA T2x, which does a very good job at dealing with shader aliasing while avoiding pre-resolve tone mapping. The demo shows the average/minimum/maximum frame rate after running the intro, which hopefully will make it useful for benchmarking GPU cards.
I think there is still a lot work to do. Probably the most important one will be rendering realistic facial hair. 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.
- Precompiled demo [47.7 MB]: Download Torrent — Hit space to skip the intro, and go to the interactive part
- Source code: GitHub
- Blu-ray quality movie [693 MB]: Vimeo Mirror Download Torrent — On Vimeo, search for “Download this video”
The 3D head scan used for this demo was obtained from Infinite Realities. Special thanks to them!