Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oriented Granule Population

I figured it's about time that I post something relevant to FX, graphics, and simulation. Without giving away too much, I wanted to post some preliminary photos of the research I've been helping Seth Holladay with here at BYU. His work centers around efficient granule simulations. This particular portion of the problem relates to the need for granular level detail in a render as opposed to a displaced surface.

For the layman, I'll explain. Most ground surfaces, even in movies, is done like this:

This is great in most cases, but what if I want to get really close to the dirt and see individual pieces? Ever see Spiderman 3?

Well, in order to put all of those sand particles onto the sandman's skin, the artists had to instance thousands of particles and then pack them in so they would look right. Our research eliminates that process and instead instances the granules right on the surface (which can also be used in a Level of Detail situation at render-time based on camera distance from the surface, but that's another story). The process of instancing the granules onto the surface is simple, but can basically be explained in 4 steps. I won't give great detail here, but a trained eye ought to be able to pick out what's going on from the photos. You can get the details from Seth's paper once it's published.

1. Instance Granules within a volume.

2. Resolve Granule Penetrations.

3. Delete Out of Bounds Granules.

4. Settle Granules with a few steps of Gravity.

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek! I'll most likely post more on this topic as we make some more progress.

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