Square and nVidia Demonstrate the Future in Real-Time
Final Fantasy Movie Logo

At the recent Siggraph 2001, a convention for graphics professionals, Square and nVidia unveiled the Final Fantasy Technology Demo. This demo featured several scenes from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within in order to demonstrate how graphic artists could realize high-quality animation rendered in real-time which could be used in the future despite its current framerate of 2.5 frames per second. The demo was run on a workstation equipped with nVidia's new Quadro DCC chip, which has specifications equal to the GeForce 3, but slightly less powerful than the graphics chip provided for Microsoft's XBox game console. As stated by Square USA's Chief Technology Officer, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, "It has long been an artist's dream to render CG animation in real-time. This technology demonstration represents the future direction of digital 3D entertainment, simulating human emotions, movements, and characteristics through the use of computer-generated graphics."

The actual Final Fantasy Movie was rendered using 1000 processors that ran 24 hours a day for 1.5 years. Each movie shot was also divided into multiple layers which were rendered separately, and then composited to get separate photo plates. Such rendering power would be impossible for the real-time system to generate but for less detailed graphics, real-time rendering would be a good solution to cut down on production time. Square also used a custom real-time preview program to test lighting, character placement, and various details for post-final rendering.

Square and their drive to create high-level animation started when the seventh installment in their much celebrated RPG series Final Fantasy was released. Final Fantasy 7 was not only Square's first large jump into 3-D video games, but it was also representative of the graphical evolution in the electronic game industry.

by Rebecca Phoa    
Source: [GameSpot]
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