Some ideas

Graphics-related ideas I’m hoping to pursue in the future (recorded here in public to establish priority):

  • A standard interface for shader reflectance models. This will operate at a higher level than shading languages. Rather than being a full programming language, it will be a simple “API” containing a handful of parameters (diffuse/specular intensities and colors). The purpose of this is to allow a single library of surfaces to operate across very different renderers, especially between RenderMan-style offline renderers and GPU-based real-time renderers. The idea is to cleanly separate surface reflectance functions from the overall light transport framework. This way artists only need to design surfaces once, and they will look roughly the same regardless of the particular light transport method used (e.g., OpenGL local lighting vs. ray casting vs. full global illumination).
  • A “quick turnaround” 3D animation pipeline. The idea is to intentionally sacrifice a small amount of visual quality in return for massive gains in production speed (and thus significantly lower costs). This could be accomplished by using motion capture for character animation, coupled to a GPU-based rendering system, likely based on an existing game engine. (e.g., the Unreal engine, CryTek engine, or id’s Rage engine).
  • A unified lighting and compositing system that uses micropolygon grids as the medium for exchanging data, rather than deep framebuffers. Pushing final shading and rasterization of micropolygon grids out of the renderer and into the compositor will allow some interesting tricks, like greater shader flexibility and quicker re-rendering at the compositing stage.
  • A distributed digital media production system based on a commodity cloud-computing platform like Amazon’s EC2. This would include a set of tools to synchronize files efficiently over low-bandwidth links between computers in the cloud and artists’ workstations. Ideally this would tie in to a production asset management/scheduling system. It would also include tools to control render nodes in the cloud, and collect and display computed work products.

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