Games

AMD's TressFX Hair gives game characters lovely locks

AMD's TressFX Hair gives game ...
Realistically-rendered hair promised by AMD's TressFX technology will change the look of video game characters (such as Lara Croft) in coming years
Realistically-rendered hair promised by AMD's TressFX technology will change the look of video game characters (such as Lara Croft) in coming years
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Reading over the ruins of an old map, TressFX Hair allows every movement of Lara’s head to be reflected in thousands of strands of hair – all in real time
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Reading over the ruins of an old map, TressFX Hair allows every movement of Lara’s head to be reflected in thousands of strands of hair – all in real time
AMD worked closely with Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics to implement TressFX in a playable game
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AMD worked closely with Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics to implement TressFX in a playable game
This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
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This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
With TressFX Hair, each one of Lara's thousands of individualized strands of hair are constantly changing with the windspeed
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With TressFX Hair, each one of Lara's thousands of individualized strands of hair are constantly changing with the windspeed
Stranded on a beach in driving rain, Lara’s hair hangs heavy and matted with TressFX Hair; the real-time physics calculations account for both moisture and wind
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Stranded on a beach in driving rain, Lara’s hair hangs heavy and matted with TressFX Hair; the real-time physics calculations account for both moisture and wind
This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
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This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
Realistically-rendered hair promised by AMD's TressFX technology will change the look of video game characters (such as Lara Croft) in coming years
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Realistically-rendered hair promised by AMD's TressFX technology will change the look of video game characters (such as Lara Croft) in coming years
Collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara’s head, clothing and body
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Collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara’s head, clothing and body
Hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force
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Hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force
Close-ups show the limitations of the technology, but it is still a major improvement over traditional methods
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Close-ups show the limitations of the technology, but it is still a major improvement over traditional methods
AMD's TressFX hair runs on DirectX 11
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AMD's TressFX hair runs on DirectX 11
This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
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This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
View gallery - 12 images

The problems associated with rendering realistic hair has held video games back for years. When Nintendo first created the sprite for Mario in the original Donkey Kong, it gave him a hat because it was too difficult to animate his hair. When video games made the leap into the world of real-time 3D graphics, things didn't get much better. Today AMD is officially unveiling its solution, TressFX Hair, that will significantly improve the look of virtual hair beginning with the new Tomb Raider.

Hair is such a common problem for game developers that they often go out of their way to avoid dealing with it altogether – as exemplified by these demos featuring realistic skin and facial animation. AMD's primary rival, Nvidia, has also taken notice of the problem – it demonstrated its own tech back in 2010, and some are speculating the company's PhysX engine will have a hair component. But today's announcement from AMD is a bit more exciting because the company worked closely with Tomb Raider's developer, Crystal Dynamics, to implement TressFX in a playable game, and because it will work on any DirectX 11 card (including AMD's competitors).

According to the TressFX press release, the DirectX 11 tech "treats each strand of hair as a chain with dozens of links, permitting for forces like gravity, wind and movement of the head to move and curl Lara’s hair in a realistic fashion. Further, collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara’s head, clothing and body. Finally, hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force."

This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics
This before-and-after comparison demonstrates the impact TressFX will have on real-time graphics

Unfortunately (and somewhat unbelievably) AMD did not publish a video of TressFX hair in motion with its press material, but it won't be long before we can see how well it performs. If the still screen shots are any indication, game developers will soon have a powerful new tool at their disposal for creating richer characters, creatures, and potentially worlds (since the technology has the potential to be adapted for creating fields of grass, for example).

Console gamers won't be left in the dark ages of hair rendering tech for much longer, either. Sony's recently-unveiled PlayStation 4 game console is not a DirectX machine, but Microsoft's "nextbox", code-named Durango, will be.

Square-Enix, Tomb Raider's publisher, has also created a new graphics engine that does an admirable job of rendering hair – albeit somewhat less animated – as demonstrated by a demo called Agni's Philosophy, which was shown during the PlayStation 4 reveal. In any event, it seems likely the PlayStation 4 (which uses AMD's chip technology) will get its own version of TressFX, but Durango's use of DirectX will make it more readily compatible out the gate.

Source: AMD

View gallery - 12 images
4 comments
sascha.kremers
Lara is smeared with dirt and blood, it's raining, but thanks to TressFX her hair looks like she just came from a hairdresser. Good technique, bad application. That is, if we get to see a video, where it actually works.
Jose Francisco
Pode ser questão de preferências mas sempre achei e cada vez me afirmo mais - a qualidade de uma imagem não é só um detalhe, há um todo que se integra e produz uma cena melhor ou pior (estou dizendo imagem e não as aberrações cênicas que os criadores de games se permitem). No quesito hardware, entra geração sai geração, a Nvidia nos dá resultados muito melhores que a AMD, faz tempo!
ralph.dratman
Animating individual strands of hair is great, but the basic capability to render hair realistically is a major step, even if the strands hold their positions in relation to each other. Plenty of characters have appeared in films or on stage with heavily sprayed hair, or wearing a wig that stay in a fixed shape. No one complains.
Gregg Eshelman
This has come a long way since 2001 and "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" where at least 50% of the rendering time for the entire movie was spent on Aki's hair.