More than three years ago I wrote a PostFX pipeline (with a large number of effects) that I constantly improved up until the beginning of last year (www.coretechniques.info .. look for the outline of algorithms in the PostFX talk from 2007). Now it shipped in a couple of games. So what is nx-gen here?
On my main target platforms (360 and PS3) it will be hard to squeeze out more performance. There is probably lots of room in everything related to HDR but overall I wouldn't expect any fundamental changes. The main challenge with the pipeline was not on a technical level, but to explain to the artists how they can use it. Especially the tone mapping functionality was hard to explain and it was also hard to give them a starting point where they can work from.
So I am thinking about making it easier for the artists to use this pipeline. The main idea is to follow the camera paradigm. Most of the effects (HDR, Depth of Field, Motion Blur, color filters) of the pipeline are expected to mimic a real-world camera so why not make it use like a real-world camera?
The idea is to only expose functionality that is usually exposed by a camera and name all the sliders accordingly. Furthermore there will be different camera models with different basic properties as a starting point for the artists. It should also be possible to just switch between those on the fly. So a whole group of properties changes on the flip of a switch. This should make it easier to use cameras for cut scenes etc.
I like your camera idea. In my experience artists can be just as ignorant about real-world cameras, so there would probably still be a learning curve. But even so, using the camera as a metaphor is a very strong concrete jumping off point that I would think artists will be able to grasp and retain relatively easily.
I will find out :-) ...
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