A New Dawn
In 2002, NVIDIA released a demo called Dawn to demonstrate the power and programmability of GeForce FX. It showcased a fairy character of extraordinary detail, seamless curves, and lifelike expressions. Among the many technology demos NVIDIA has released before and since, Dawn has remained the most memorable. It was the first time a fully animated and totally credible character was brought to life in real time. Even today, many games have yet to realize a character with Dawn''s level of detail.
Fast forward ten years, and NVIDIA has brought back Dawn once again, in a demo simply titled "A New Dawn". In A New Dawn, the demo starts not with the main character, but with a sweeping overview of a lush rainforest. Ferns gently sway in the moonlight, vines sprawl across an ancient tree, and budding flowers cast a gentle glow on the surrounding bark. As our character comes into view, we find her swinging on a vine in her new tree home. The tree is rendered to the finest level of detail using DirectX 11 tessellation. At its peak, over four million triangles are used to showcase Dawn''s environment.
Another area of dramatic improvement is Dawn’s hair. The original Dawn had individual hair strands, but they were few and far between. A mere 1,700 adorned her head and the shader only modeled for specular reflections. The original Dawn also used a rock hard hairspray to ensure her hair never budged a millimeter; all the GPU''s horsepower was directed at rendering her character as realistically as possible. New Dawn’s hair is a giant leap forward. Thanks to DirectX 11 tessellation, she has gone from a scant 1,700 strands to 40,000 soft locks of hair. Advanced shading allows her beautiful hair to move out of the jet-black color scheme. While still a brunette, you’ll see her hair gently flowing in the wind, reflecting and transmitting light from the environment.