Siggraph: More milestones in vid games

EA exec: Biz closing gap with film

SAN DIEGO -- Glenn Entis, senior vp and chief visual and technical officer at Electronic Arts, touted accomplishments like increased realism in interactive graphics and also offered his take on upcoming challenges Monday at Siggraph, the computer graphics confab.

Entis was one of several featured speakers that this year replaced a single keynote session. The change was planned in order to address a wider range of topics, like games. As part of the series, author/graphic novelist Scott McCloud will speak today on "Comics: A Medium in Transition."

Entis said Monday that he believes there are thrills to come in the gaming space.

Offering history while underlining the rapid development of gaming technology, he pointed to rendering numbers, noting that game consoles run at 60 frames per second, 3,600 frames per minute and 216,000 frames per hour. Film rendering, he estimated, can equate to one frame in 20 minutes and three frames per hour. He also pointed out that the gap in quality is closing between the mediums.

In addition, Entis outlined a number of creative challenges in real-time computer graphics, including character development.

He also explained the hypothesis of the "uncanny valley," a perceptual zone where a digital character is close to lifelike but not quite right, causing audiences' empathy to dip. In such instances, he said, "the worst thing you can do is add more modeling. ... Motion has to be better than modeling."

Entis also said that characters need to respond and relate to their surroundings.

"If they don't react, the suspension of disbelief is gone," he said. "It's the responsiveness that makes them come alive."

Entis also cited the interest in content sites like MySpace, adding that user-created content is exploding.

"I think there is a tremendously powerful dialogue between the gaming community and the professional tools community, about making tools so much fun that people can't stand to get off of them," he said. "It's a very interesting area, and it may be the next stage."
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