vacancies advertise contact news tip The Vault
facebook rss twitter

Crytek discusses future of Neon Noir real-time raytracing tech

by Mark Tyson on 9 May 2019, 11:11

Tags: Crytek

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qad7jh

Add to My Vault: x

Many HEXUS readers were impressed by the Crytek Neon Noir real-time raytracing demo, as revealed at GDC 2019, mid-March. The headlining claim to fame of this gorgeous looking real-time demo was that it wasn't running on one of Nvidia's shiny new GeForce RTX graphics cards but an AMD Radeon Vega 56 - at an impressive 4K 30fps. At the time Crytek confirmed that its hardware agnostic demo would run well on "most mainstream, contemporary AMD and Nvidia GPUs". We didn't learn a lot about the Crytek real-time raytracing engine at GDC but were promised that it would make it into CryEngine 5.5 later this year.

Crytek has shared an update on how its real-time raytracing works in an interview-formatted blog post featuring Vladimir Kajalin, Principal Rendering Engineer for CryEngine, and Ron Frölich Principal 3D Artist for Hunt: Showdown - two key members of the Neon Noir dev team.

Kajalin explained that CryEngine has been using a form of raytracing inside its Global Illumination solution since 2015. However the detail levels of real-time reflections were good except for when very smooth and reflective surfaces like mirrors came into the scene. In Neon Noir and upgrade was applied to implement real-time mesh ray-traced reflections and refractions. "This technique shows high-quality scene meshes and textures perfectly reflected in mirrors and reflective surfaces using GPU ray tracing," says Kajalin. Currently raytraced ambient occlusion or soft shadows aren't being implemented.

Before mesh raytracing came to CryEngine a lighting system that was used that was known as voxel cone tracing. Kajalin said this technique was merged with the new mesh raytracing - used on smooth and clean reflective surfaces like mirrors. Thus the compute intensive raytracing can be rationed within any scene and voxel tracing used elsewhere. Raytracing requires de-noising, and nicely that feature already existed in CryEngine.

Future architectures

The original Neon Noir raytracing demo video showed real-time rendering using an AMD Vega 56 GPU powered system. Crytek says that its raytracing implementation is both API and hardware agnostic but it still has plenty of scope for improvements and tuning at this time.

As the tech is developed it will benefit from modern APIs like Vulkan or DX12, and/or dedicated hardware like the latest generation of graphics cards - the RTX cards from Nvidia, for example. When RTX or similar dedicated raytracing accelration hardware is present - it won't allow new effects or features in CryEngine, rather it will "enable better performance and more details". On the topic of detail levels, the developers added that reducing the resolution of reflections "allows much better performance without too much quality loss".

Frölich summed up the appeal of real-time raytracing in a games engine like CryEngine by saying "Like most modern rendering features, ray tracing is another step towards visual realism in games." He added, to illustrate its use cases "When used aggressively in special cases like mirrors, and subtly in most other cases like windows and wet surfaces, ray tracing can improve the overall image quality," while breaking down barriers for developers.



HEXUS Forums :: 14 Comments

Login with Forum Account

Don't have an account? Register today!
I love how they're being realistic about what ray tracing does - it's a useful tool and a step towards photorealism. Whereas Nvidia's marketing was just so overhyped you'd think that Jesus was surfing back down to Earth on a traced ray and that the second coming could only happen with “RTX on”. And that if you didn't buy an RTX card you might as well just start your journey to hell now as life just isn't worth living without “RTX on”.

If Nvidia had been this realistic and sensible and treated us like adults, rather than trying to make their uber-nerd CEO into some kind of leather clad pseudo-rock star and blowing up any passing birds with the sheer quantity of laser beams, I might have taken their tech seriously. As it was, they set a standard that was so high that nothing other than total perfection at high FPS and resolution was going to meet it.

I get they were trying to sell cards, but you don't sell anything by setting consumer expectations so high that your product can't meet said expectations. You're just setting yourself up to fail. Set those expectations more modestly (or at least not stupidly) and let the reviewers and early adopters go “WOW, THIS IS AWESOME!” for you. This is what Cryteck have done - they've been realistic about what it is and then made a demo which is stunning, runs well on hardware people can afford and isn't seen as being some ego fuelled brag-fest.
Would have been a tough sell from Nvidia's part: we've added a lot of dedicated expensive hardware to our new boards that only act as a bit of visual polish.

Those of us who see it as just that, aren't paying through the nose for an RTX. Do I want to see ray tracing in games and this visual polish? Absolutely, but I'm not willing to pay extra for it - and I'd rather current visuals are high fps in 4K first.
philehidiot
I love how they're being realistic about what ray tracing does - it's a useful tool and a step towards photorealism. Whereas Nvidia's marketing was just so overhyped you'd think that Jesus was surfing back down to Earth on a traced ray and that the second coming could only happen with “RTX on”. And that if you didn't buy an RTX card you might as well just start your journey to hell now as life just isn't worth living without “RTX on”.

If Nvidia had been this realistic and sensible and treated us like adults, rather than trying to make their uber-nerd CEO into some kind of leather clad pseudo-rock star and blowing up any passing birds with the sheer quantity of laser beams, I might have taken their tech seriously. As it was, they set a standard that was so high that nothing other than total perfection at high FPS and resolution was going to meet it.

I get they were trying to sell cards, but you don't sell anything by setting consumer expectations so high that your product can't meet said expectations. You're just setting yourself up to fail. Set those expectations more modestly (or at least not stupidly) and let the reviewers and early adopters go “WOW, THIS IS AWESOME!” for you. This is what Cryteck have done - they've been realistic about what it is and then made a demo which is stunning, runs well on hardware people can afford and isn't seen as being some ego fuelled brag-fest.

I guess it depends entirely on the consumer who is purchasing. I went with the RTX 2080 for the fps / resolution / power draw / noise options, couldn't give a jot about ray tracing hardware and still haven't played any of the few games with that available (even though I have BFV installed on my PC). My expectations have been met.
While RTX and the like does make all this stuff look so pretty, I fully expect everyone to go all Ray-Tracing mad and ‘photorealism’ crazy, just like they did with surround sound and keep doing with 3D movies.
It's a background effect that exists only to enhance the experience… yet all the demos so far, understandably wanting to highlight and showcase the RTX, have made everything absolutely pristine and shiny and reflective to a point waaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond realistic.

In the RTX future, nothing is dirty and presumably entire nations are employed to polish everything.

But then, Chris Roberts will save us when Star Citizen finally comes out and gifts us with all that realistic Physics Based Rendering he promised…

I can't believe we're five months into 2019 and I haven't yet had a single dig at him!
Now if I can just get in a mention of lariats, and turn this into a thread about Brexit, the trinity will be complete and Cthulu shall be summoned to our plane!!
Iota
I guess it depends entirely on the consumer who is purchasing. I went with the RTX 2080 for the fps / resolution / power draw / noise options, couldn't give a jot about ray tracing hardware and still haven't played any of the few games with that available (even though I have BFV installed on my PC). My expectations have been met.

Fair. I bought a Vega64 because it was winter and I wanted to not have to turn on the heating.

My expectations have been met.


Note: No subtle / passive aggressive piss-take intended there, just a flippant remark.