May 2011

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Here’s a book CFP, proposals due right after SIGGRAPH. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I heard of this as a book idea. However, OpenGL truly is undergoing a resurgence as of late. Not so much on desktops and laptops, though more games are indeed getting made for Macs. Marc DeLoura has a good article on engines in “Game Developer,” May 2011, noting that 15% of traditional “big game” developers plan on Mac version of their games, vs. a mere 2% in 2009. As it is, most every serious game engine is cross-platform, so OpenGL’s special features (and bugs) are not so vital to engine users. Rather, the handheld market is where OpenGL is the only game in town. So, knowing how to make this API sing is pretty vital if you’re working in that area.

The editors: Patrick Cozzi you probably don’t know (yet), though I did point earlier to a poster for this year’s SIGGRAPH that he coauthored (it’s a clever technique). Among other things, he’s first author on a book that’s not out yet, but will be by SIGGRAPH: 3D Engine Design for Virtual Globes (you can download?book samples and the code). Christophe Riccio you may have heard of if you work with the OpenGL SDK. He maintains the OpenGL Samples, GLM (math), and GLI (imaging). These guys look like good people for the job: energetic and intelligent. So, here’s the CFP – you can comment on it at their blog. Me, just reading their list of topics of interest, I’ll get a copy even if they get articles on just a very few of these. If $50 (or whatever) saves us a day of going down a wrong path, it’s worth it.

It is with great enthusiasm that we invite you to contribute to OpenGL Insights, a book containing original articles on OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL techniques by the OpenGL community and for the OpenGL community: from game programmers to web developers to researchers. OpenGL Insights will be published by A K Peters, Ltd. / CRC Press in time for SIGGRAPH 2012.

Given the wide array of OpenGL platforms, from Mac desktops to Android phones to web browsers, we invite you to submit article proposals on all aspects of OpenGL development, including performance tuning, recent GL features/extensions, application architecture, vendor-specific techniques, WebGL, and interoperability with other APIs. We are interested in proposals based on your unique real-world experience using OpenGL. Some ideas include:

  • OpenGL performance, for example:
    • Best performance practices for using vertex buffers
    • Best performance practices for texture streaming
    • Performance and memory profiling techniques
    • 64-bit performance considerations
    • Multithreading with OpenGL
  • Modern OpenGL 3 and 4 programming, for example:
    • Introduction to tessellation
    • Image load and store
    • Programmable multisampling
    • Using shader subroutines effectively
    • Managing uniform data
    • Strategies for debugging OpenGL applications
  • Application architecture, for example:
    • Porting between Direct3D and OpenGL
    • Writing portable code between OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL
    • Designing an OpenGL-based graphics engine
    • A testing framework for OpenGL applications
    • Shader architecture best practices, e.g., shader binaries and separate shaders
    • Cross-platform programming with OpenGL
    • Tools, libraries
  • Vendor-specific techniques, for example:
    • Understanding and optimizing for specific hardware and driver implementations: AMD, Apple, ARM, Imagination Technologies, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, S3 Graphics, etc.
    • Bindless Graphics: GL_NV_shader_buffer_load and GL_NV_vertex_buffer_unified_memory
    • How VAO works on AMD drivers
    • Taking advantage of deferred tile rendering on PowerVR
    • How GLSL compiler works
    • Understanding multithreaded OpenGL drivers
  • OpenGL ES, for example:
    • Best practices for targeting both desktop and mobile devices
    • Targeting multiple mobile device platforms
    • Developing with power consumption in mind
    • Differences between desktop and mobile devices
  • WebGL, for example:
    • Introduction to WebGL for web developers
    • Introduction to WebGL for OpenGL developers
    • Optimizing WebGL applications
    • Writing large-scale software in JavaScript
    • Understanding web browser implementations of WebGL
    • WebGL interoperability with WebCL
  • Interoperability, for example:
    • Hybrid OpenGL and OpenCL/CUDA rendering pipelines
    • Working with both OpenGL and Direct3D
    • OpenGL interoperability with OpenCL and CUDA
  • Inspirational thoughts and experiences:
    • OpenGL’s 20th anniversary: history and evolution
    • ARB members and OpenGL developers interviews
    • OpenGL software making of
    • Daily programmer experiences with OpenGL

These are, of course, examples. Please don’t feel limited to these areas.

The planned schedule is:

August 15, 2011 Proposals due
September 1, 2011 Authors selected
November 1, 2011 Articles due
December 1, 2011 Peer review feedback due
December 15, 2011 Revised articles due, all articles sent to publisher
January 1, 2012 Supplemental material due, e.g., videos, source code, etc.
SIGGRAPH 2012 Book released

Please send proposals to [email protected] using this example proposal as a template by August 15th.

Proposals should include the title, your name and affiliation, a one-page abstract, and anything else you feel helps convey your article such as related images or references. Proposals must demonstrate the author’s real-world OpenGL experience and ability to write clearly. Proposals can have multiple authors, and a single author can submit multiple proposals. There is no required article length, but we expect most articles will be 5-20 pages. Example code can be written in any language on any platform.

Please feel free to contact us for additional discussion. We’re looking forward to putting together a valuable book for the OpenGL community.


Patrick Cozzi and Christophe Riccio, Editors


In my previous GDC links post, I briefly mentioned the free section of the GDC Vault, and listed individual links to a few of the many videos and presentation slides available there. I’ll list more links to free Vault content in this post, mostly stuff of interest to readers of this blog that isn’t otherwise available online.

Videos (many of these have presentation slides available from one of the links included in my previous post):

Slides (skipping any talks linked in my previous post):

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Since it’s quite a long time after GDC 2011 and I never found the time to do a proper conference report, I thought I’d at least do a link roundup.

First, the GDC Vault has a Free Section with many presentation slides. Video for most talks is behind a paywall, but several notable talks have freely available video:

There are several other talks with free video, mostly sponsored by companies such as Intel and NVIDIA.

The rest of this post will cover talks where the authors or their companies have made materials available outside the Vault – I haven’t checked, but I suspect there is a fair bit of overlap with the free section in the Vault.

Presentations from the “Advanced Visual Effects with DirectX 11” tutorial day:

These are hosted on the AMD conference presentations page, which also has a few other AMD presentations:

Presentations from the “Physics for Game Programmers” tutorial day (these are only some of the presentations, it looks like the rest are up on the Vault’s free section):

Presentations from the Technical Artist Bootcamp can be found here – links to individual presentations follow:

DICE had quite a few presentations at GDC, many related to real-time rendering. All DICE presentations can be found on their publications page.

One DICE presentation of particular interest, Approximating Translucency for a Fast, Cheap and Convincing Subsurface Scattering Look (Colin Barre-Brisebois) can also be found on the author’s blog, along with an addendum.

NVIDIA also had a good number of presentations, to be found on their GDC 2011 page. An especially notable one (jointly presented with covered the Epic “Samaritan” demo, intended both to show off the Unreal Engine’s DX11 feature set, and to set a quality bar for the makers of next-generation consoles (the demo was shown on a machine with three GeForce GTX 580 cards connected via SLI, so definitely a “futuristic” system). Online material for the Samaritan demo includes the presentation slides, video of the demo, and some additional technical details on the underlying technology.

Intel also has a dedicated web page for their GDC 2011 presentations. Two especially interesting ones covered Order-Independent Transparency and Dynamic Resolution Rendering. Additional organizations with multiple talks at GDC included AutoDesk and Khronos.

The talk Mega Meshes: Modeling, Rendering and Lighting a World Made of 100 Billion Polygons (Ben Sugden & Michal Iwanicki, Lionhead) presented some unique rendering technology they developed for the (cancelled) game, Milo & Kate. Additional online materials include a video and a second video.

Other rendering talks with online materials include Anti-Aliasing From a Different Perspective (Dmitry Andreev, LucasArts), Practical Occlusion Culling on PS3 (Will Vale, Second Intention), Normal Offset Shadows (poster by Daniel Holbert, High Moon), HTML5 and Other Modern Browser Game Tech (Vincent Scheib, Google), and several presentations that Wolfgang Engel (Confetti) gave at the Intel booth.

Two animation talks also have online materials: The Animation of Halo: Reach: Raising the Bar (Joe Spataro & Tam Armstrong, Bungie), and An Automated Pipeline for Generating Run-Time Rigs (Adam Mechtley, Candlelight Interactive), as well as three non-graphics engineering talks: Forensic Debugging: How To Autopsy, Repair, and Reanimate a Release-built Game (Elan Ruskin, Valve), I Shot You First! Gameplay Networking in Halo: Reach (David Aldridge, Bungie) (there is also a much smaller file without video), and Message Queuing on a Large Scale (Jon Watte, IMVU).

For the sake of completeness, I’ll also list the design, production, and business presentations and videos I found online:

If you find any other presentations online, please put a link in the comments to this post.

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I just learned of a new book coming out: “Real-Time Shadows“, by an excellent group of researchers (a little more info here). I assume this book will be based on the authors’ 148-page “Casting Shadows in Real Time” course notes and related publications. This subject deserves its own book. There are enough interesting principles and so many variants and subtleties that I’m happy to hear this topic will get thorough coverage. Our book page is updated.

Looking around at other book-related resources, I noticed some interesting bits. John Vince’s “Geometry for Computer Graphics: Formulae, Examples and Proofs“, from 2005, has been reissued in a softcover edition.?It’s pricey, as Springer books can be, and weighs in at just 364 pages, but it’s an information-packed volume. It’s a kind of book you rarely see now, one with a dense collection of formulae, like CRC Press used to specialize in. Google Books sample?here. Some of it’s pretty tangential to computer graphics – normally I don’t need proofs about things like the opposite angles of a parallelogram being equal – but it’s fun to page through: “Someday I’d love to find a use for that coiled ring equation”. Whether you’ll ever need 1/100th of the information in this book depends on you. It seems like a good fit for demoscene programmers who want procedural functions and model generation, for example. Anyway, something to see if your university library has, just to page through and know it exists.

Speaking of geometric resources, I was sad to see the site? appears to be defunct. What’s key to remember in such cases is that there’s the Wayback Machine. Just put in a dead URL and more times than not this site will have a copy. So the Geometry Algorithms site lives on here! Luckily, math doesn’t really rot, so the articles are still worthwhile. The bad news is that a few of the figures are missing.

For technical book authors, I ran across this interesting little tool: Detexify2. Draw the symbol you need, it will show you likely matches and what LaTeX you need. I’ve found it’s pretty accurate, though seemed to have problems with “not equals” half the time I drew that symbol as a test. Anyway, it’s probably no more efficient than just looking it up here or here, but is more fun.

Last resource for the (mothers’) day: so you want to explain the basics of computer graphics to your mom. Frédo Durand’s six page introduction is not a bad place to start. At the least, you can use the figures at the end to explain ideas.

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Many moons ago when the world was young(er), Jim Arvo asked a few other graphics guys what we thought the next volume of “Graphics Gems” should be. After batting around “More Graphics Gems”, “Son of Graphics Gems”, “Revenge of the Graphics Gems” and other alternatives, he finally went with the consensus: number them, even though the first one is not numbered “1”. This is now the norm: GPU Gems, Game Programming Gems, Game Development Tools have all gone this route. The ShaderX/GPU Pro series(es) have gone with pushing the numeral up top, e.g., ShaderX3. Which I guess is officially read as “ShaderX cubed,” but of course everyone calls it “ShaderX Three.” Some have gone a different route, like the “Jim Blinn’s Corner” books were differentiated by the subtitles and by strikingly different cover colors.

Along the way there has been the occasional rough patch with book titles. For example, ShaderX2 is actually two very different books, “Introductions and Tutorials” and “Tips and Tricks.” The “Best of Game Programming Gems” book is excerpted from the first six books, leaving the seventh and eighth in a funny state – “what am I, chopped liver?” There seems to be a tiny hint that there will be a ninth volume, but there’s not a whiff of any call for participation elsewhere, e.g. not on the official series page.

I bring up this topic of naming because there’s now a new axis being developed: gem names. I noticed this a few months ago, and in updating the book page today, it’s official: the new?GPU Computing Gems series truly is going with calling their first volume Emerald, the second volume Jade. Or is it vice versa? I honestly had to check.

I have to question this naming concept a bit, especially given the gems’ colors, but I guess the damage is done. “You know, the GPU Computing Gems book edited by Hwu, the one named after a green gem,?with the green molecular structure on the cover, came out in 2011?” That accurately describes both volumes. When I first ran across this pair of books, I thought it was a bug or misprint, that there was only one book but with two slightly-different entries, sort of like “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorceror’s Stone”. I’m not a marketing genius, but this naming scheme so far is not working for me. Which is a pity, as it does a disservice to the contributors by confusing the message. So, yes, there really are two different volumes, with Emerald out now and Jade coming out in August.


Seven things:

  • There’s a post on speculative contacts by Paul Firth, a way of simplifying and stabilizing collision detection that has been used in Little Big Planet. Particularly nice is that demos are built into the page, so you can try the various methods out and see the problems and performance for yourself. This author has followed up with “Collision Detection for Dummies“, a great overview, and “Physics Engines for Dummies“, again with interactive demos.
  • The Gamedev Coder Diary has a worthwhile summary of the current state of deferred shading vs. deferred lighting (aka “light pre-pass”) techniques, discussing problems and strengths of each.
  • The CODE517E blog has had a number of good posts lately, including an article on?deferred rendering myths, another on?stable cascaded shadow maps, an accumulation-buffer-like way of making super-high resolution images for printing (with some worthwhile analysis of problems it engenders with mipmap sampling and with view shifting – fun to think about), an extensive rundown of programming languages for videogames, and a summary of tools he uses (quite the long list – I’m still working through those I hadn’t seen before).
  • On the topic of languages, Havok put together a page collecting the Lua tutorial talks at GDC 2011.
  • The Boeing 777 model (almost 400 million polygons)?ray traced at interactive rates on a consumer-level PC, using CUDA. CentiLeo is an out-of-core GPU ray tracer, see?this page for some of the slides from the (rather long) video. That said, don’t be fooled by the start of the video: those sequences are generated at 15 seconds a frame and played back at 60 FPS (so 500-1000x from being real-time). Still, the preview mode is indeed interactive, and the Boeing is a huge model. On the other end of things, here’s a fun?demoscene ray trace. By the way,?Ray Tracey’s blog is good for keeping up on new ray tracing videos and demos and other related topics.
  • A poster accepted to SIGGRAPH 2011 by Ohlarik and Cozzi gives a clever little method of properly drawing lines on surfaces for GIS applications. It converts lines to “walls”, then marks those pixels where there is a visibility change of the wall (i.e., one pixel of the wall is visible, a neighboring pixel is not), with a correction for terrain silhouette edges. One more trick for the bag.
  • More about the look and feel of games than the technical nerdy stuff I cover here, Topi Kauppinen’s blog pointed me to Susy Oliveira’s sculptures, which are pretty amusing (finally, perfect models for 3D web browsers). There have been similar works by other artists (e.g. Eric Testroete’s head), but the more the merrier.

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