It’s not related to Blender specific but I wonder why people are only taking about it at the moment. There is at least one news I read about it every day. Physically Based Rendering is not new, it was already there when I start learning 3D 10 years ago even in Blender 2.4, Maya and 3dsmax.
Why all that noise about it? is it a new standard or technology? is it because real time engines start to do it as well? Did I miss something? 🙂
I may be wrong but it’s more of a video game related stuff ; I’ve red it somewhere online.
First of all, the term is so broad that Ton R. himself tweeted a while ago about how peoples misunderstand it… mixing real-time PBR and not and so on.
In the video game industry, texture artists must both match each other ‘style’ and, of course, offer a texture that give the illusion of the asset to be illuminated. But also from some ‘indistinct as possible’ light source (to avoid an object breaking the illusion in a scene with a lighting clearly from the wrong side).
A few good examples are Divinity Original Sin or WoW : The lighter parts are often just at the edge as with it would be from a back-light in a 3 points setup.
Still, in a lot of game, you can clearly see the assets which you can interact with (like false wall, …) precisely because of it. Because they need to be as generic as possible, they ‘stand out’ of any other environment (ie. a dark cave).
To manage all those problems simultaneously and given the fact that ultra realism is ‘hot’ right now in video game (in the AAA at least), PBR is a good answer for those because :
- Shader are based on real stuff that has been quantified and analyzed (Want to make real gold ? Well, you can find how shiny gold is in real life and so on exactly like IOR for glass or water)
- Different assets made by different artists will be more similar (less dependent on texture)
- -> More realistic
Live & Learn
Yeah PBR isn’t new Pixar have used it for years with renderman but for video games as David says it’s kinda new. I’ll try ti explain as much as I can but it could be incomplete for some points :
In the past with PS3 and Xbox 360, most of the engines and pipeline did not include PBR. Video games companies built their own engine maybe 10 or 11 years from today (1 or 2 years before xbox360 and PS3 launch) it was kinda new at this time and there were so few tools to help artists and developpers to actualy speed up their workflow. Back to 2010 something like that, some Japanese video games companies built their own engine with PBR included but the console was”dying” and a new one was on the way, so few companies build a new engine due to the high cost and they focused on a new engine for PS4 and XboxOne instead which appeared 2 years ago.
Basicaly it makes life easier for artist to build assets without making any post prod if you change the light of a scene at any time.
Quick exemple, before if I wanted to build let’s say a ammo crate and import it to my scene, I had to colorize my texture depending of the light to fit perfectly with others asset. If it was for a daytime environement and the artistic director said “the scene will be better for a night time “, you were screwed-up because you had to give to your texture a blueish ambient to fit perfectly with the scene and if you wanted to re-use your crate for an other environement you could see visualy a strange behaviour depending of the time of your scene. And let’s say someone else worked on an other asset you could see the difference between the 2 if the lighting values in the texture weren’t the same or close from each other.
Now with PBR you can build any asset you want and it fits immediatly with any lights so you don’t have to re-works your texture to fit with the scene and it makes that scene more credible and realistic in every way. You spent less time on the texturing for video games and you can focus on your own work and not be dependant of your collegues to achieve the same result. And right now there are more and more tools that helps indies or small companies to get a pretty good result. Even Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 integrate PBR which kinda popularised the workflow.
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