all a blur to me."
| Lots of folks have been talking about the new Voodoo4 cards and their
features. Hmmm, I thought the Voodoo3 cards just came out a few
months ago! Anyway, here is an editorial from over at http://hoozyermama.webjump.com/
on the subject, so I thought I'd do a point counterpoint thingy on it.
the next wave of whiz-bang gimmicks from 3dFX. I read it, and
it's a bunch of hooey. The improved anti-aliasing is a good
idea, and better shadowing is nice, too. Better frame rates are
always good, and 32-bit color is overdue, right? But I don't
think they figure that package would sell a new $300 card, which they
desperately want to do. So they throw in this depth of field
crap. And the motion blur trick. Those two were MUCH
better left alone. Here's why:
About Blur effects: something moving fast on a computer or TV screen
will leave a blurred trail on your retina, and in your brain.
This is due to the fast, but still finite, response time of the
biochemical vision apparatus. There's no need to draw a trail to
make something look like it moves realistically, it just has to MOVE
realistically. Try this simple experiment at home: Turn
off your mouse pointer trails, if you have them on. Now whip
your pointer across the screen. Did it blur? Of course it
did. The 24 fps (artificially doubled to look like 48) of motion
pictures is plenty to convince your brain that you're seeing smooth,
lifelike motion. Do you really think that the 50-60 fps your
spanking new video card gives you, with decent game programming, is
going to be less convincing than that? I will NOT pay for this
"feature," given a choice, and disable it if possible if and
when I encounter it.
About depth of field: When your eye is focused on any one thing,
everything else in your field of vision is somewhat blurred.
Focus on this word, HERE, and notice that there are plenty of other
words still in your field of vision. But how many of them can
you see well enough to read? So now we know that there's no need
to blur things in the picture you aren't supposed to be looking at to
push your attention to the one in-focus object on the screen.
It's just a lazy way to make you look at the right thing, when, in a
well-made game, you'd be doing that anyway. In fact, I find this
effect EXTREMELY annoying. I first ran into it at an IMAX 3-D
movie. It was filmed underwater, so some of the scenes had limited
light available. This necessitated opening the aperture to have enough
light to expose the film, which restricted the depth of field.
So I could only watch the main subject in the center of the screen,
because trying to see some of the background in cool 3-D gave me a
headache from the blurriness. And, most importantly, this
ruined the lifelike 3-D effect. In the real world, you can
choose your point of focus, and the rest of the world gets a little
fuzzy. On your computer screen, you should also be able to
choose your point of focus. The rest of the screen will go
out of focus temporarily, and your suspension of disbelief may remain
intact. If the programmers decide to fuzz out everything except the
thing THEY know you're supposed to be looking at, trust me, it's going
to feel LESS real. And you want me to pay extra for that,
"While this may turn out to be true in practice, it will be
hard to say until we see how game developers utilize the
technology. But as someone who made films and videos for a hobby
for many years, and who loves to watch films, I need to say that the
effects you speak about are used constantly in computer generated
films like Star Wars: Episode 1. Why would Lucasarts go out of
their way to add computer-generated blur effects, and depth of field
effects if they did not make the images more life-like?
If you overdo anything, you can make it annoying, but check out how
they use the effect in Star Wars movies. When an X-wing or
pod-racer flies past the camera into view, only the first few frames
are blurred, and the blur effect fades smoothly and quickly as the
X-wing or racer recedes from the camera. This greatly increases
the reality of the computer generated scene by making the
computer-made object react just the way a real object would react if
recorded on real film.
Then take depth of field blurring, even Max Fleischer's 3-D cartoons
like the real old Popeye cartoons used multiplane animation with depth
of field blurring on purpose. It made the 3D effect much
more real, because all real films have depth of field blurring,
especially with close-ups. If used subtly, it should make 3D
games seem more movie-like.
Computer-generated movement blurring and depth of field burring are
advanced graphics features that I'm certain other 3D chipset makers
will be incorporating into newer graphics chipsets in the future.
Finally, I'd like to point out that if you move your mouse pointer
fast on the screen, it does not blur at all. Try it. Move it
back and forth really fast, and focus your eyes in one spot. You
will end up seeing several images of the pointer jumping around, but
each momentary image is clear, not blurred. This is because the
pointer is not moving smoothly from one place to another. Each
image appears in one spot, and there is no blurring between
positions. Movement blurring occurs on film because the shutter
speed is finite, and any movement occurring during the time the
shutter is open blurs the image across each frame of film. So
when you watch movies, where each frame is an individual still
picture, the blurring effect is on the film, not in your visual
Anyway, I expect that good game developers will use this technology
sparingly, and effectively to make 3D games seem more like movies, and
less like moving 3D-rendered images."