In my previous life I taught a class on how to make video game levels so the technology of virtual worlds is something I am familiar with. Over the years we have seen rapid progress being made in the realism of these worlds. This past week has seen the release of the latest generation of video game consoles so it is timely to see a video showing the future.
If you want to know the difference between what you see in computer animated movies such as Toy Story, and what you see in a video game, the difference is time. I mean this in two ways. First, in a movie like Toy Story, each image you see can take many hours or even days to generate. A video game needs to update as the person is playing it so you typically only have 1/60th of a second to create the image. To make the process go faster, you have to leave out a lot of the realism however as computers get faster, you can start to add them back in. So if you have a fast enough computer (or phone) you can generate images for a game that would have been computer animated movies a few years ago.
Therefore, the second way time relates this is typically there is about a five year lag between what is possible in a movie and what is possible in a game.
With that in mind, check out this video about how animators at Disney advanced the state of the art in creating virtual snow.
That’s the best snow I have seen. I reminds me of the work Pixar did with water for Finding Nemo. Nice work Disney!
So look at that and then imagine the realism that can be put into virtual worlds in 5 years. Notice in the video that it’s all based on math. It would be very cool to teach these math concepts by using snow simulations! As virtual worlds get more realistic, we will be able to use them to teach with.