Tuesday Dec 23, 2008

Media

For the observant who are in the "know" about making real media, there are a few glimpses (here, and here, and here, and here), and also the fact that the individuals who through self-motivation decided to revamp the Java browser plugin are actually 3d graphics experts, that we're not completely oblivious.

There's a broad cultural divide between the real media world, and the world of current 2d graphics toolkits, such as web browsers, Flash, JavaFX 1.0, Java Swing, Silverlight, QT, Cocoa, etc, etc.

An important thing to note is that this, and this (meaning the flash content on this web site), and this (meaning the actual product - not the web site), all run on the same consumer hardware. What differentiates them is the skill of the artists/designers involved, and the performance and capability of the software systems that enable such artists.

In spite of being composed of the very most simplistic graphics imaginable, the AJAX site above delivers unconscionably poor, stuttering, animation performance. In spite of being a premier 3d game engine provider, the Flash content on Crytek's web site is very poor animation-performance-wise (although a lot better than the web browser's) - and still remarkably simplistic (compared to Crytek's real product) - and obviously lack of availability of artists is not part of the equation in their case. Meanwhile EVE online brings you amazing graphics, sound, animation and interactivity with silky smooth performance.

At the end of the day, however, these discrepancies clearly are about hardware. It's impossible to get a sufficient frame-rate for smooth animation of non-trivial graphics without hardware acceleration (GPU + CPU SIMD) - even for 2d. This is the very reason for the existence of GPU hardware. By contrast, the web browser, Flash, Java2D, & etc have a software architecture which is not designed around leveraging such hardware, and such is the result you get.

The state of the art in real media is created and advanced in the world of movies, TV, and video games, not that of the PC desktop and web browser. Nevertheless, modern video game engines demonstrate that interactive, real-time, very high production quality, high-performance multimedia (2d and 3d animation and graphics, audio, and video), is possible on today's desktops and on the web, not to mention devices with multimedia hardware acceleration.

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