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Epic Games, ILMxLAB and NVIDIA Show Off Star Wars Video Using Real Time Raytracing

Can you imagine what the graphics to a triple A video game release is going to look like in ten, even five years time?  Well this short video will give you an idea of what we can expect.  The clever folks at NVidia, ILMxLab and Epic Games have collaborated and brought us this short Star Wars demo using the Unreal Engine.  It really is like watching a scene from The Last Jedi.  The idea of the demo is to show off the new real time raytracing.  Tim Sweeney of Epic Games tells us:

“Ray tracing is a rendering process typically only associated with high-end offline renderers and hours and hours of computer processing time, film-quality ray tracing in real time is an Unreal Engine first. This is an exciting new development for the media and entertainment linear content worlds—and any markets that require photo-realistic visualization.”

Over on Artechnica they tell us how much the equipment currently costs to bring us such an impressive life like video:

Getting a “cinematic” 24fps with real-time raytracing still requires some serious hardware: it’s currently running on Nvidia’s ultra-high-end, four-GPU DGX Station, which lists for $60,000 [Update: After publication, Epic reached out to clarify that the demo was running on a DGX Station, and not a DGX-1 as originally stated during the interview.] . Even with that, some elements of the scene, like the walls, need to be rasterized rather than made fully reflective, Libreri told Ars. And the Volta technology that is key to powering this kind of performance isn't even available in consumer-grade GPUs below the $3,000+ Titan V.

This is a significant piece of work as real time ray tracing is something that visual effects companies have looked to for quite some time.  Costs will eventually come down and find their way to the home user so expect the distinction between video games and movies to be even smaller over the coming years.  Probably sooner than we think.  This could even pave the way for new animated TV or movies which would look just like a live action show.  Imagine an Indiana Jones TV series using this technology?

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