Friday, June 05, 2009

June update + Antialiasing glitch

Well I've been getting some requests for updates. I haven't posted more because the situation is still the same; I'm still busy on the next CP episode and the website is still in development. I know It might seem like I'm not doing anything, but I've actually been making a lot of progress; it's just an inherently slow process to produce episodes at the quality level I strive for in Civil Protection. Each episode is much more than just recording and editing, it's more like a minature mod for the game.

On that note, I've been getting pressure on all sides to produce more episodes of Freeman's Mind. I'm still not producing any more until I finish the current CP episode, but after that, I may alter my plans to make it first priority and have them come up at a much more rapid rate. Many of you have said you prefer it over Civil Protection. I think you're only saying that because you don't know everything I have envisioned for the series. My imagination far exceeds my production capacity. On that same note however, I'm not even attempting the "jaw dropping" episodes in the near future because of how much more work they would entail. So due to the time involved with making those, I'll probably focus on easier projects, like FM. In the meantime, I'll continue blazing away on the next episode.

The next part of this post only applies to 3D graphics geeks, so you can skip it if you're just here for the videos. The glitch I'm listing below will NOT hold up production on the next episode.

- - - - - - - - - 

I've run into a minor nuisance in production that simply hasn't gone away. I'm a sucker for antialiasing; I think it cleans up the look of a 3D scene immensely. However I've gone through multiple generations of graphics cards and keep running into the same glitch when I enable antialiasing. For lack of a better term, I'm calling it "shimmering". This glitch seems to be especially noticeable in the Source engine in certain situations. It's similar to looking at a road in the distance on a hot day, giving the illusion of a puddle. It causes lines or gaps or something to be rendered that should not be there. It only happens for me for surfaces in the distance with antialiasing enabled. It's best seen in motion, but it's noticeable in screenshots. I recommend downloading "On A Rail" if you want to see it in action. Here is an example where it occurs from that video:



That's not just a reflection from the lights, this glitch occurs in 100% dark tunnels. While I'm on a Geforce 8800 right now, this has happened to me on multiple cards in the past and I've witnessed it happening on a friend's computer with a Radeon 4850. The ONLY solution I've found to this is to either turn off antialiasing completely or to render the scene using supersampling entirely; no multisampling whatsoever. This is not an ideal solution as supersampling is immensely slower and requires too much memory to hit the same quality levels as other antialiasing methods. If ANYONE knows what's causing this or can demonstrate a solution, please contact me at rosswscott@gmail.com or post here.

Feel free to test this for yourself! If you have a copy of Half-Life 2, a good spot to test this is on the first canal level (d1_canals_01) looking back at the dark train tunnel you see once you get outside. Here's an example of the effect for that level:



If this problem doesn't affect you, great, but I'm trying to find out WHY. Ask people who know a lot about 3D graphics. Ask ATI. Ask Nvidia. Ask on tech forums, it'll be a favor to me. Again, this glitch won't hold up production of any episodes, it's just a personal quest of mine to find out how to fix it and I'm hoping someone out there knows more about it than I do.

EDIT:
Viewer Carl Johnson (not the one from Grand Theft Auto) has made me aware that disabling AA and AF through the driver control panel, then setting the AA settings in-game will prevent this problem on ATI cards. Unfortunately I tried this and it didn't seem to have the same effect for me (since I'm currently on an Nvidia one), but that's encouraging to know this is fixable.

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally an update :)
Im really excited for the new cp episode...But im seeing forward to fm too.

Tom Edwards said...

It's almost certainly showing up at a seam between two polygons (bear in mind that brushes get chopped up every 1024 units when the map is compiled). Am I right when I say that it only appears on ceilings?

fire.esper said...

AA issues have been my pet peeve since I first switched to nVidia cards over ATI's. Seems to be some sort of quirk on Source's end...

Seems like Z-Buffer or Occlusion Culling going mad, but I'm no expert on these thing... I think switching to really high AA (16x or whatever) cures a lot of these glitches though.

UsodStallion said...

Thanks for the update again Ross. Best of luck.

Yes, I check your page frequently.

Anonymous said...

hmm, dont think ive run into this glitch personally, but then again i havent played for a while and never looked too closely at ceilings in tunnels... ill have to check it out.
thanks for the update though, always nice to hear from you.

Ross Scott said...

Tom Edwards: No, I'm afraid you're not. This appears on the ground and walls too. It's also not a point where there's a seam (within Hammer anyway). It can be a perfectly solid brush and the effect is ongoing (not just in one area).

fire.esper: I actually didn't have this particular problem on my old X800, but that had a different visual problem. Both ATI and Nvidia seem to have this problem now. As far as pushing AA to extremes, no, it does NOT cure this particular glitch. The only solution I've seen is PURE supersampling AA and even then, that's capped at 4x and slow as glue.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like the game is fine. If its an npc on the train then thats why.

Tom Edwards said...

It might be a solid brush in Hammer, but VBSP will have chopped it up if it's too big. Use mat_wireframe to examine what's happened in-game.

BTW, have you experimented with AF at all?

hinde74 said...

i dont know if it will help but iv got a nevida 9800 and i havent seen it happen to me so try that

Matt L. said...

Maybe theres a glitch where it super enhances normal backround light (eg. sunlight) to where it just comes through whatever. Similar to what you said about glimmers on roads too far away, but imagine if it was on a lighter surface (such as sand). There'd be glimmers, and glares from combined light bouncing back at you at that angle. As the angle gets lower relative to long surfaces, all the light from those angles are closer together and therefor "brighter". Maybe the renderer does this to an extreme and it just phases through materials once they arent in the vicinity.

Anonymous said...

AK-47

I havd seen many similar anti alising problems in other programs

Bryce 3D defenetly has it on lower sampling rate. Poser, Blender, 3dsmax,Vue 6, Cinima 4d all have some anti alising problems and boostiong sample rate helps but EATS UP A LOT OF RENDER TIME. So AA itself is troubeslome

So I basically photoshop those pixels.

Also , in this case I think it is just a general problem of pixels not acting correctly. In games there are a lot of tricks to simulate light and shadow by baking, faking, and shaking

But anti alising is more or less linear and light bases effect. So when many of the shortcuts they take to make lights,lamps,water and such intareact with the AA process, some artifacts arise.

And this deffientyl a softweare and not hardware issue. I rendered same image in bryce on totaly differnt machines with same effect.

My advice.. render the scene with and without AA, and then put a small mask over the area to revial the non AA part bellow.

that may seem crude, but in production similar tricks are used all the time, like camera projections for example

Jeremy said...

I'm getting weird graphical glitches in Team Fortress 2. They usually only appear when i have AA and Anisotropic filtering on.

Alex3942 said...

yey, an update! love FM and CP!
you rule!
have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Slow as glue? Your crazy...

Anyway, I keep AA turned off at all times due to slowdown(my computer sucks ass) but I know my friend gets this and a few screenshot from google images have this glitch.

Anonymous said...

yay FM episodes soon!

Jack said...

I'll tell you one thing,
It's a commmon problem, there are things called PATCHES.

Ross Scott said...

Tom Edwards: Well I can't tell because it's always at a distance when this happens, it never occurs close up. I'm still hesitant to believe this for two reasons:

1. It looks continual, not in one spot. It would have to be splitting the brush up every 4-8 units or so.

2. I've seen this happen in at least one non-Source game, it was far more extreme in that. Again, supersampling was the only way to solve it.

Yes, I have experimented with AF and practically every feature nHancer has to offer. It seems to make no difference.


Matt L.: I have no idea, but I doubt it's just Source. If it was the engine, it seems like this would happen in all situations, not just multisampling.


AK-47: I don't know about it being strictly software. This problem literally did not exist on my old x800, (although that did have a problem with actual seams, some sort of rounding error maybe). My conspiracy theory answer is that ATI/Nvidia are cutting corners on graphics quality to get more speed and in the majority of games this simply isn't noticeable.

Your solution would probably work, but that's too extreme for me. It's easier to just stick with the more reliable supersampling, even if it does make everything chug all to hell (and stay capped at 4x). That's only an option on Nvidia cards, and even then, only for Direct3D. It just seems insane to me as much money goes into making these cards we can't do AA properly.


Anonymous: Except for "Friday" my episodes are always completely smooth because I do frame by frame rendering so I never drop frames. The viewer doesn't see how slow things actually move when I'm recording. Believe me, some episodes CRAWLED.

Anonymous said...

i am not a great machimimator or anything but i might have a simple solution for this,

put the charachters in front of it, use angles that dont show as much of the back, and mabye just a bit of photodoctoring to cover it up with similar surrounding colors or just simply put something black in the backround just far enough so you dont see any of the material.

i might also suggest making it look caved in (because of a RAS) and use that as an excuse to keep it in the background

Anonymous said...

"Yay! updates!

Anyways, keep up the good work on CP, it seems like you work your a** off making each episode. I think you should keep doing both series(es?) because I personally like both of them equally.

As for that "shimmering," it doesn't look like something people can easily notice and criticize. In other words, it doesn't look that significant and is possibly negligible. I haven't noticed it at least, and I wouldn't have seen it in the screen shot if you hadn't circled it. It's really up to you, I'm just saying what me as a fan thinks.

phoenix said...

Hey good work Ross thanks for the Update can't wait for the CP and freeman's mind ain't bad either

yasen said...

perhaps you need more anisotropic filtering? 16X?

Anonymous said...

I'm not really a great computer person, but maybe its kind of like a pixel problem.
The pixels at a certain angle seem to disappear. Like how a straw loosk like its in two pieces in a cup of water at an angle, refraction.

Kind of like using Paint. You make a srtaight line, and it's straight. But as soon as you add a little angle to it, some of the square pixels stick together and make a rectangle pixel.

I know it might not help, but thinking outside the box never really hurts, right?

Anonymous said...

So I'm guessing part of the video involves the trainyard?

Alex3942 said...

I have a perfect simple solution!:
just ignore the problem, nobody even notices that...
If you watch on a rail you don't even notice it and if you do, it doesent bother you...

Northern said...

Just dropping a comment on the FM vs. CP, personally I prefer hearing Gordon's raving over the dialogue of a few soldiers.

It's just that FM is so much more accessible to people. Everyone's played HL and can appreciate the straightforward humor. So far the series has been excellent.

CP on the other hand takes a lot more time, it's not as striking and a random viewer can't really appreciate the production value of it.

So, if the aim is to please the crowd prioritising FM over CP does make sense.
However even if you decide to go with CP I understand, after all it does look a lot more personal.

In any case I'm really looking forward to the next FM episode.

Take care.

Otto said...

Dang. I've come across this quite often as well, but even when I'm playing I rarely give it any heed. If it makes you feel any better, you pointing this out completely took me by surprise as I've seen Episode 4 many times and never even thought about noticing some glitch like this. It looks natural enough to go undetected even in plain view anyway.

Definitely don't give up any other current visual effect for this little thing.

blackAngel said...

If you're right about the conspiracy theory, i guess graphic cards like Quadros would fix this problem. Not really a solution, but i guess if also quadros have the same problem, it's a bug from the engine.
But since you do frame by frame rendering, why not use the slower AA that works?
Or is that too bad quality?

Ross Scott said...

Guys offering workarounds: Don't worry about it. I tried to emphasize that this is just an annoyance, nothing that impacts production. I can always just use supersampling instead, I've already done that on a couple FM episodes.

Northern: Well I think CP you can actually show to people who know NOTHING about Half-Life and they'll still enjoy it. FM feels a little more targetted to gamers, though that's probably most of my demographic anyway.

Blackangel: I do use it, though AA limits on that are a little lower, plus it's slower. This is really just me wondering why the hell it's happening in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I never played Half life before yet I totally prefer FM than CP. :)

Anonymous said...

looks like z-clipping to me...

John Reed said...

I've tried to reproduce the problem on two computers, one with a GeForce 7600 GS and one with a 8600 GT, but neither did it, so I can't really find a fix. Have you tried fiddling with the antialiasing settings in the Nvidia Control Panel (should be in the menu when you right click the desktop)? Under the 3D Settings Menu, click manage 3d settings and direct it to the hl2.exe file that you use. Try fiddling with the antialiasing settings there, which override HL2's settings. Hopefully that might work, but if not, you can just turn it back off.

Serbdude said...

Hey Ross, I found a video on youtube you might want to see


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w89wPStlEQ


Might help generate revenue you know

Cryect said...

You using HDR with AA? It's a known issue in DX9 that when using the 2 together messes up results of black pixels often being full bright.

Cryect said...

Oh I should say SSAA instead of MSAA should work fine.

Miki said...

Maybe I have a solution to the problem: while you record, don't use the AA filter of the Source Engine but activate the AA manualy from the control panel settings of your video card.

goatfish said...

i don't know if i speak for everyone. but don't rush anything. who cares if you take awhile to complete an episode. i'd rather wait and have it be excellent, then see it now and be disappointed

S said...

There is something about your posts that really make me believe you are the most awesome person ever.

William said...

NOTE: I do nott own any source game, so all of this is a speculation on the screenshots . This is a theory and has not been tested.

Would it be possible to stop certain edges of brushes getting AA rendered on them if:
- One face (caulk or not) is parallel to another on another brush
- Two of these face's vertices (corners) on each brush (that are linked to form an edge) share the same coords along the edge?

My theory is simply that Source's maths output to render the polygons/faces on screen is rounded to a few decimal places to reserve memory. This is fine on-screen as one brush will be >.5
and the other <.5 of a pixel and so they fit together seamlessly.

However AA 'creates' the gaps even though the two brushes do not even have the tiniest gap between them because it (probably) takes the values that were used to render the faces on-screen which are rounded rather than re-harvesting values all over again.

I could be wrong however.

Jecalux90 said...

Why don't you try to run HL2 in DirectX 10? Is it possible? Maybe is a DX 9 glitch...

Szilvási Ádám said...

Miki: wouldnt make a difference

Cryect: finally some serious insights :D
would it be fixed using DX10?

theditor said...

So, Ross, can we be assured that the next Cp will feature lots of tunnels?

Anonymous said...

Hey its Reno. Was wondering if my tip helped at all.

f12bwth said...

I have an almost guaranteed way to remedy your issue. But you will not like it.

Go grab yourself a Workstation card. They NEVER have any texture edge errors. They also cost as much as a used car and don't render fast. But they are coded for accuracy not speed.

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=449&name=Workstation-Graphics-Video-Cards

Yokai said...

I'll watch it when it's out. Take your time. Although I'm curios if you have anyone helping you. If you don't maybe you should consider finding people to assist you in making the episodes; it would no doubt be a faster process :D

pdan4 said...

When certain textures are viewed at skewed angles, they blur very badly, and do odd things to light. There is a certain distance, about that far, where the mipmaps will start, and sometimes will do funky things, like that bad aliasing.

John said...

Break your computer.

ALWAYS WORKS FOR ME.

ultradude25 said...

@Everyone who is suggesting DX10

Source doesn't have DX10. Only a few games have used it so far. It's highly unlikely that EP3 will use it.
Half-Life 3 will probably be the earliest we will see DX10 in Source, and by then it may be using DX11.

Bloodshotbuddah said...

I don't see how people can pick a favorite when it comes to Freeman's Mind and Civil Protection. I love both but I gotta tell you CP is something special, the conversations Mike and Dave have are too damn hilarious and with CP you can mod the game so its more open ended, Freeman's mind is hilarious but once you finish the game then that's it, unless you start over again with different jokes but that would be stupid.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how people can pick a favorite when it comes to Freeman's Mind and Civil Protection. I love both but I gotta tell you CP is something special, the conversations Mike and Dave have are too damn hilarious and with CP you can mod the game so its more open ended, Freeman's mind is hilarious but once you finish the game then that's it, unless you start over again with different jokes but that would be stupid.

Serbdude said...

I hope a new CP episode comes out soon

goatfish said...

If you do a HL2 death episode....it should be in the train bridge....something like he's "admiring the view", then WAM!

Elie Nasr said...

I feel torn between FM and CP. They both have different style of comedy and, of course, there's the interaction between two or more characters vs just the one reflecting on himself and his situation.
In the end, I think CP is more ambitious (and dare I say: artistic?) while FM is more comedic and easier to get into. I can't wait for more of either one so I don't really mind. Take your time :P

Szilvási Ádám said...

ultradude25: Its quite misleading then, cos there are switches to use DX10 or DX9 when starting the game. (altough maybe ep1 or 2 instead)
Also it shows the DX version where you twinkle with video settings. Many features aren't even available if its not running in DX10, but 9.1 or sth. I mean EP1 runs with DX10 on my machine and thats the only way I can allow HDR in the first place. EP2 runs in DX9 and its unavailable.

Thats why I assumed... :D Well it makes sense cos Source isn't quite last year... :D

Anonymous said...

Normal antialiasing only works on the edges of 3D objects, so stuff like light and sprites and stuff. Super antialiasing and high res are your best bet to remove the problem.

micro said...

NEED FM NOT CP FM FAST FUNNY CP SLOW FUN

Karen said...

Dear Mr. Scott,
Me & my friends all agree that your "jaw-dropping" episodes of Civil Protection are well worth the wait. However, it is understandable that this would be a large addition to the amount of work you already have to do: I mean, your entire life isn't Civil Protection & Freeman's Mind, you have bills to pay, a job to go to, & friends and family like the rest of us. So, while it would be gladly appreciated if you did attempt these more difficult episodes, it is completely alright, with the section of your fan community that i belong to, if these episodes never come to be.
Sincerely,
Karen

Kantian said...

For me I've actually prefered CP over FM this whole time (I like both). I can't wait for the next FM though when he meets the first soldier. His reaction will be fun to watch =)

Anonymous said...

Enable anisotropic filtering?

Jeremy said...

I just started playing Half-Life: Source and I'm getting the same white lines you are. Immediately at the beginning of the game in the tunnel it was noticeable. I have an Nvidia card.

Ross Scott said...

Serbdude: Thanks, but I've tried that before, it lead to about $1-4 a month.

Miki: No I'm afraid that doesn't work.

goatfish: This next episode will be nice and polished, don't worry.

William: I'm pretty sure I've seen the situation in situations other than what you're describing

Jecalux90: Well I'm on XP for starters.

theditor: No, but the one after it sure will have them.

Karen: Well let me say that while it may take me a very long time, as long as Craig remains alive to voice Dave, I WILL create many of the ones I'm talking about. I'd hate for people to watch all these episodes and make assumptions about my full potential as far as film and ideas.

Vince Mays said...

Hey ross

You should make commentary for episodes and tell us how things are done

Franck said...

hi ross, I have a cuestion for u. are u related whith matt scott, one of the producers/designers/programers(I don't know really) of half life two episode two? I vas playing it whith the comentaries of producers on, and apperaed like one of the designers crew.

Anonymous said...

Accidentally stumbled upon FM today on YouTube.. and watched all episodes from both series.
What can I say.. wow. Great job.
Patiently waiting for new updates.
Best of luck - and keep up the good work ))

Anonymous said...

skip civil more freeman!

Anonymous said...

Its me reno again, just had a brilliant idea. Crop your movies. Like when you do tunnel shit and you get that in the distance, crop it out.

Anonymous said...

I never even noticed this glitch before you mentioned it, I honestly hope it isn't slowing down the production of your superb videos!

Also, I don't want to suggest for you to do anything, because what if you're already doing it? Then I would have kind of ruined it for you.

Also also, I enjoy both FM and CP, produce hem in what ever order and don't rush it, I like to see your best! (An analogy; Fm is like Friends while CP is like Frasier....except funny...)

mookae said...

well, "reno", would YOU be willing to crop your movies FRAME BY FRAME? it may work, but it'll add another week of delays to an already slow production

Soliton said...

Looking forward to the new CP.

Qman358 said...

ugh, JUST RELEASE FM 12! i really dont give to much of a crap about cp. its a great series, but i dont want to have to wait until august to see Gordon meet the grunts.

Anonymous said...

Reno: That wouldn't work, considering that the screenshots Ross provided showed the seam in the middle of the screen

Anonymous said...

DUDE you have the best online series yet!!!i love freemans mind as well as civil protection and hope you do more!thanks-bob

Crazy Cal said...

"ugh, JUST RELEASE FM 12! i really dont give to much of a crap about cp. its a great series, but i dont want to have to wait until august to see Gordon meet the grunts."

Yeah? Well other people do. If you can't be patient, go watch some series that you know has scheduled release dates, like RvB, or... err... RvB. But don't bitch to Ross about taking his time.

salsor said...

Haven't experienced this on Gainward ATI Radeon Rampage700 2048MB GS

Anonymous said...

Teehee! RvB!

professoboy said...

I'm really sorry I yelled at you on YouTube (yes, I'm machiner6). Hey, instead of Radeon, why not try Nvidia? I had many similar problems with ALL of my games and the internet, so dad got me an Nvidia for last Xmas. I'm just NATURALLY impatient. Thanks in advance, and maybe you could try "Minds of Cross and Green" from Decay, now that the PC mod version is out.