TressFX: Realistic Hair in Tomb Raider from AMD and Crystal Dynamics

As graphics have improved with gaming, the desire for more and more realism has been a driving force in technology.  One of the hardest things to model has always been realistic hair, and AMD seems to have made some progress on this front.  In conjunction with Crystal Dynamics, the two have set out to remedy this issue.  In the upcoming Tomb Raider, with her tell-tale, pulled-back hair, the team found an opportunity to advance gaming in general, all the while revitalizing the image of a classic gaming character, Lara Croft.  The outcome is quite revolutionary, both for the Tomb Raider franchise and computer gaming on a whole, utilizing the Graphics Core Next architecture.

AMD and Crystal Dynamics are on to something here, it would seem.
AMD and Crystal Dynamics are on to something here, it would seem.

What does this mean?  The answer is the first time the world has ever seen physics and hair lighting in real-time.  The simple answer is TressFX.  Each strand is a physical object, with it’s own shadow, bringing character’s to life more than ever before, starting with the reboot of the Tomb Raider series, starting with Ms. Lara Croft.

The Graphics Core Next architecture uses DirectCompute to take advantage of parallel pixel processing.  Combine this with AMD’s Order Independent Transparency, it allows for maintenance of resource-hogging amounts of pixels, as well as allowing for further complexity in the actual rendering process.

Here's one without TressFX...
Here’s one without TressFX…
...and here's one with.
…and here’s one with.

The DirectCompute component also allows for individual physics to be applied to each strand of hair in a chain, allowing them to react to external stimuli, like wind and other movement.  This is furthered by collision detection that inhibits strands from crossing through each other, equating to a realistic, physically dynamic head of hair on Lara, and of course, future characters to come.

Graphics cards that utilize Graphics Core Next are particularly proficient in this method of rendering.  This harmonious relationship between Tomb Raider’s programming structure and AMD’s hardware capabilities is just further evidence that video games will continue to get prettier and prettier.

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