Professor Yoshinori Dobashi is the gentleman which wrote "A Simple, Efficient Method for Realistic Animation of Clouds" along with listed contributors K.Kaneda, H.Yamashita, T.Okita, and T.Nishita respectively.
This research paper provides the blueprint for some fantastic cloud animation in computer graphics, written circa 2000, and is listed as part of a presentation they gave at the 2000 Siggraph Convention. Siggraph is pretty much the top of the line when it comes to outstanding computer graphics and technology research, so it's no surprise that their method was presented there.
The clouds animation video in our media section is an example of this method in practice, and we all must admit it is incredibly good looking. There is just one catch; it's not fast enough for real time rendering.
So what is a virtual worlds designer to do when faced with something this gorgeous and then hammered with the prospect that it isn't capable of real time rendering?
It's time to optimize the living heck out of this code and apply some techniques that did not exist in the year 2000. After all, we are entering into the year 2008 and our computers and respective hardware have come a long way since eight years ago.
What we are essentially looking at here is the unrealized potential to have realistic volumetric clouds in a virtual world, if only somebody took a stab at the technique and applied it for a real time environment. It's not going to work out of the box, obviously, but we believe with a creative perspective we can get it to real time rendering with little hassle.
This, of course, is going to require that the code be heavily modified in order to make use of modern hardware and techniques. So much of this is going to be loosely based on Prof. Dobashi's research while writing this cloud system from scratch.
Arguably his research is invaluable, but even in 2000 it wasn't real time with probably the fastest hardware available. Even though our hardware has improved considerably since then, there is still going to be required some ingenious "tweaks" to get it in real time (while hopefully not degrading the looks).
This is normally the point where we run around the office yelling "SCIENCE!", but we'll have to save that until after we get it working in real time and after we get a few drinks into us...
Anyway, now you have a bit of insight into how we do things here. So thanks Professor Dobashi for your invaluable insights.
Till next time -
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