February 7, 2013 2:11 AM   Subscribe

I wub cats too!
posted by Mezentian at 2:39 AM on February 7, 2013

Although a two-hour commitment is a bit more than I am up to right now.
posted by Mezentian at 2:40 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

People not able or willing to invest 2+ hours to watch it all can use the links in the video description right below the player to skip to the beginning of each demo, and only watch each interesting one for as long as they want.
posted by tykky at 2:51 AM on February 7, 2013

I'll bet I'm not the only one who watches a bunch of 'early' demos and then skips to the later demos for contrast (and time constraints).

I kinda preferred a lot of the earlier demos. They were obviously trying to show one thing as realistically as possible using the latest rendering possibilities. A single tree, a car with chrome detailing. Toys.

A sort of 'canny valley' where you know it's CG, but it looks almost real.

Then I skipped ahead and saw the opposite. So much stuff going in in every frame and on the peripherals of what you could focus on at once and it looked like a hyperreal blur. An 'uncanny valley' where I knew the *scene* wasn't real but it looked kinda real.

Then the fighting cats happened. That was awesome.
posted by panaceanot at 3:31 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

They should have used the laddergoat for Call of Juarez. Technically, maybe, it's not a good example of computer graphics, but on the other hand--it's the laddergoat.
posted by tykky at 3:57 AM on February 7, 2013

So basically this reality is just a computer game yes?
posted by Callicvol at 4:27 AM on February 7, 2013

Please save us the trouble and just give us the timecode for the fighting cats.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:28 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not really... just that clever cats can creatively replicate at low resolution a convincing simulation based on shared mathematics.
posted by panaceanot at 4:30 AM on February 7, 2013

Yeah, I also found some of the later ones just too busy and show-offy. I had trouble figuring out what was going on because there was so much flash-bangery and exploding shit. I have the same problem with many modern films.

Do we want games to look realistic? You know, the thing about reality is that a lot of the time, it's kinda steady and uneventful. I recognise that games have to be entertaining and involving, but I don't really accept the idea that "entertaining and involving" is best exemplified by masses of explosions, laser beams, frequent bursts of action and violence, vehicle crashes, implausible fighting moves and constant bloody *movement* and *incident*. The best experiences in life tend to build and flow, not explode and relentlessly batter you in the face. It's like pop culture is being run by ADHD sufferers on PCP. How did that happen?
posted by Decani at 4:32 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like nvidia's house demos and I cannot lie.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:43 AM on February 7, 2013

Oh, my, god. Becky, look at her house demo.
It is so complex. [scoff] She looks like,
one of those brogrammers' girlfriends.
But, you know, who understands those brogrammers *scoff*
They only code her, because,
she looks like a total joystick, 'kay?
I mean, her demo, is just so complex.
I can't believe it's just so rounded, it's like,
out there, I mean - gross. Look!
She's just so ... real!
posted by Mezentian at 5:01 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

So 2000 counts as "early" now? (I mean, relatively, yeah)

I remember being impressed by the first Apple Powermac's demo, which consisted of a textured ball, around which you could drag a virtual lamp, to show texturing, shading, shadows.

I remember they really had to go a bit out of their way to explain the significance of it. This was not simply a video, it was "real time rendering" and we'd darn we'll better appreciate it!
posted by ShutterBun at 5:03 AM on February 7, 2013

It's being presented as a retrospective starting 13 years ago, so, yeah "2000" is early when discussing this video.
posted by panaceanot at 5:07 AM on February 7, 2013

charlie don't surf : Please save us the trouble and just give us the timecode for the fighting cats.

posted by dubold at 5:18 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

All that evolution and yet the nymph is still wearing lingerie.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:45 AM on February 7, 2013

What would you have a nymph wear? Leaves and bark?
posted by Mezentian at 6:06 AM on February 7, 2013

The demo listed under "ShaderToyMark" is interesting. All of those are fragment shader effects drawn on flat polygons - as far as your video card is concerned, it's not drawing a shiny 3d landscape, it's simply drawing a triangle with some kind of strange custom texture on it.

And because they're all simple fragment shaders, you can view and modify them in a WebGL-enabled browser such as Chrome or Firefox. Two of them are from the IQ Shader Toy - look for 'Clod' or 'To the Road of Ribbon'. Others have likely been posted to the Heroku GLSL Sandbox.

(You should be able to download the GeexLab stuff for the rest, but there's something freeing about being able to find and modify shader code directly in a browser.)
posted by suckerpunch at 6:19 AM on February 7, 2013

Oh, yeah, ShaderToyMark. Shoulda linked that to begin with.
posted by suckerpunch at 6:33 AM on February 7, 2013

I still remember getting a GeForce DDR back in 2009, and finding the thing to be absolutely stunning -- it was essentially the first consumer-grade GPU, and its hardware-based T&L engine completely absolutely blew away anything else that came before it. Heck, NVIDIA's Grove demo still looks impressive to me.

I'm guessing that this is why the compilation starts at 2000 -- hardware T&L was a pretty big leap for realtime graphics.

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, there's an Intel Extreme Graphics demo compilation that's composed entirely of PowerPoint screenshots and ASCII art.
posted by schmod at 6:52 AM on February 7, 2013

i want to play the giant lazer cat video game
posted by fuzzypantalones at 6:59 AM on February 7, 2013

it was essentially the first consumer-grade GPU

Rendition and 3dfx, or the RIVA128 if you want to say that the V1000 and Voodoo don't count.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:03 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

When the Half Life 2 Lost Coast HDR demo came out, which ran at 2fps on my PC at the time, I remember being stunned at the video clips of it.

When I run around Half Life 2 now, I'm still impressed at the way it all looks
posted by 13twelve at 7:15 AM on February 7, 2013

QuickDraw 3D Accelerator card from Apple, released in 1995 for a price of $399, "accelerates 3D interaction up to 12 times". It shipped with 512 KB of texture memory and "A game called 'Gerbils!' so you can experience the fun side of 3D graphics."

And check out these demos.

I'm nostalgic about the QuickDraw 3D software API--it taught me how to do an object-oriented API with C.
posted by jjwiseman at 8:33 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to see a video of "prehistoric" demos for contrast, The spinning wireframe cubes from Fairlight intros, The bazillion flat shaded teapots and tensor lamp demos from the Amiga. In 91 or so I got my hands on a video tape of a demo from a "virtual reality" company, It was a teapot with phong shading. Shit was mind blowing.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:57 AM on February 7, 2013

Gotta admit, watched the whole thing and truly enjoyed it. Thanks!
posted by cthuljew at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2013


posted by charlie don't surf at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2013

it was essentially the first consumer-grade GPU

Rendition and 3dfx, or the RIVA128 if you want to say that the V1000 and Voodoo don't count.

The term GPU wasn't really used until Nvidia started talking about the GeForce. They specifically started using that term to distinguish from previous 3d accelerator cards (such as their own TNT cards), which didn't really do anything other than texturing. Which is more than the previous 2d accelerators did, but really it's not really that much more. OTOH the GeForce did some of the actual geometry math. The power and flexibility of what can be done on a GPU has increased dramatically since then, but the GeForce is a pretty reasonable place to draw the line.

I assume that 2009 was a typo and schmod meant he got his GeForce 256 DDR in 2000 - when they were introduced. (the non-DDR branded GeForce 256 was introduced a few months earlier, in 1999)

The tree in the first demo is absolutely about offloading geometry math onto the CPU. And you can see through the first bunch of years what new features they were demoing. But it didn't take too long before they were general enough it's hard to really show off new things that were made possible - then it just came down to the same stuff but with added complexity, to show off the increased power or bandwidth or whatever.
posted by aubilenon at 10:35 PM on February 7, 2013

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