Dynamic lighting system colors 3-D environments

Aug 21, 2004

An automatic lighting system that can speed up the development of interactive stories and videogames can enhance players' experiences, too, by adding more tension and emotion to a scene, says the Penn State researcher who developed the system.

ELE, Expressive Lighting Engine, is an intelligent system that allows game developers to use lighting to direct attention to particular objects or characters, create mood and provide visual depth, said Magy Seif El-Nasr, an assistant professor in the Penn State School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). As well as automatically placing lights to illumine a scene, ELE also selects their positions, colors and angles.

"Lighting in game engines is static and restrictive, and it doesn't change with interaction," she said. "ELE draws on cinematic and theatric lighting design theory and enables game designers to fully use lighting's subtle but powerful effects."

Seif El-Nasr and Chinmay Rao, a graduate student at Penn State, reported at the Siggraph Poster Session in Los Angeles (Aug. 6-12) that ELE can guide players to important elements in 3-D scenes. The researchers determined this through tracking the eye movements of users playing a simple level of a first-person shooter game. With ELE's lighting choices, users more successfully scanned scenes and identified enemies.

This built on one of Seif El-Nasr's earlier user studies, the results of which she reported at the American Association for Artificial Intelligence's July meeting. In that study which also involved eye tracking, players of the game Unreal Tournament missed "seeing" the enemy so couldn't respond fast enough to enemy attacks. Those results appeared in a paper titled "Light AI" authored by Seif El-Nasr.

In addition to benefiting users, ELE also helps game designers, she noted. Current lighting design is time-consuming, often requiring weeks of tweaking. That makes it difficult to adapt a scene's lighting to reflect changes in a scene's tension or action.

ELE can respond quickly, said Seif El-Nasr who tested the system on the Unreal 2.0 engine (used in Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004).

Because the system is dynamic, ELE also can be used to change the level of difficulty in a game. Characters can be lit up to be obvious for novice players, for instance. For more experienced players, the lighting could include more shadows, Seif El-Nasr said.

Another benefit of the automatic system is that designers who want to override ELE can do so.

"ELE allows artists to control its behavior at a high level or a low level," the Penn State researcher said. "Additionally, ELE supplies artists with a language to write rules for specific lighting changes or set up."

While developed initially for 3-D environments, ELE can improve simulations used in educational and military training simulations, Seif El-Nasr said.

Penn State's Intellectual Property Office currently is seeking patent protection on the software methods embodied in ELE.

Source: Penn State

Explore further: Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

20 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

Oct 24, 2014

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

Oct 24, 2014

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

Oct 24, 2014

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

Oct 24, 2014

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

Oct 24, 2014

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0