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HDR Lighting Update
Wednesday 12 July 2006 @ 14:15 EDT

A lot of questions have surfaced regarding HDR lighting and the possible effects it will have performance wise.

On the forums, Coroner addressed those concerns. Read in full story: ...

"Regarding the performance impact of HDR in TCE:

TCE's HDR lightmap technology doesn't influence performance at all. This part is responsible for smooth and realistic light falloff and characteristics. Since it is all calculated and rendered in TCE's modified q3map2 version and then stored to lightmaps as before, there is no performance influence. I have to add that HDR effects in many commercial games (including HL2) are not including a perceptive tonemapping of the physical light intensities. All the tweaks that were done to light source falloff (arghrad and other tools) and all the attempts like gamma predistortion (q3map2) seem a bit odd having the real thing running, like professional renderers have for some time. All the stuff with, e.g., linear lights were an attempt to fake (in less compile time) what perceptive tonemapping gives us for granted and without errors. Unfortunately, back in Q3TC times, when I tried a similar HDR/tonemapping approach first the time was not yet come for it and rendering times with 3 bounces and very high skylight resolution were too long to justify a complete change of the light compile, also with regard to map changes required ... I better stop rambling, what I wanted to say is that to my knowledge, no professional game does a proper lightmap calculation (with proper light source settings yet), at least not HL2.

The dynamic HDR effect (dynamic eye adaptation) has some framerate impact since it adds a shader path to all surfaces. Current hardware like my GF6800GT dont really notice this. The dynamic HDR effect in TCE is more gently compared to HL2 and should not give much disadvantage to players that can afford to switch it on. As always, switching it off and just upping gamma like there is no tomorrow can give players an advantage. I, however, believe and hope that TCE can stand and get rid of these "visual lamers" at one point. We have been around for so many years, I am confident we will get there.

Since we are not selling TCE and are not Valve or Ubisoft, I think we can afford to also mention downsides and limitations of TCE's dynamic HDR. These exist because we don't have access to the engine and because it is not our fulltime job. I was, however, quite proud to be able to incorporate a dynamic HDR effect at all and as HL2 HDR - which is stupid fake - TCE's dynamic part of HDR is fake, too, maybe less stupid. Granted. But it looks more realistic and has two time constants for neural and pupil adaptation and all that stuff. Unfortunately we cant do some stuff the Source engine can do with reflexions. And we can only estimate the distribution of light in the scene in ways that still will be improved in the future. Anyhow, we have less framerate impact then HL2.

Thanks for reading,


Posted by Diane
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