All of us are aware of how closely GTA V (Grand Theft Auto V) portrays real-life Los Angeles and Southern California, also how decent and good its graphics are considering how old the game truly is. Even the modder community in the past few years have always tried to make this even more realistic with the various techniques, but a new machine learning project from Intel ISL called “Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement” might have turned that realism into a photorealistic direction.
First reported by Gizmodo, researchers by making the GTA V undergo various processes, have created a surprising result i.e., a visual look that has obvious similarities to the kinds of photos one might casually take through the smudged front window of the car. Though we have to see it in motion to really acknowledge it, the combination of slightly washed-out lighting, smoother pavement, and believably reflective cars just proves the fact you’re looking out at the real street from a real dashboard, even if it’s all virtual at the same time.
The Intel researchers suggest some of that photorealism comes from the data they fed their neural network. The group offers a more in-depth and thorough explanation of how image enhancement actually works. The researchers say their enhancements go beyond what other photorealistic conversion processes are capable of, by also blending geometric information from GTA V itself. Those “G-buffers,” as the researchers call them, can include data like the distance present between objects in the game and the camera, and the quality of textures, like the lustrous nature of cars.
Video game developers are always looking for more authenticity in their games. The more realistic images look, the more appealing and engaging video games can be, specifically in virtual reality. Researchers from Intel Labs have introduced a new method to intensify the realism of unnatural images and were able to achieve this by using a machine-learning database called Cityscapes.
Scientists have suggested a new approach for sampling image patches while training the network. The team also achieved multiple design improvements in deep network modules that are leveraged for photorealism enhancement. The method they have developed certainly shows significant improvements which were made. In the image below, GTA V is shown on the left, and the resulting photorealistic enhancement from the researchers at Intel Labs is shown on the right.
The scene on the right side of the above image looks like it was taken with a dash camera, while the left side of the screen shows an image that is clearly a videogame. The same enhancement can also make landscapes and cityscapes much more realistic than before. Trees, grass, and dirt paths look just as they would in the real world rather than the slightly cartoonish form they take on in GTA V.
While we might not see an official “photorealism update” roll out to GTA V tomorrow (or may try to pull this off in upcoming GTA VI), you may have already played a game or watched a video that’s made possible from another kind of machine learning i.e., AI upscaling. The process of using machine learning has started making graphics to higher resolutions, has appeared in several different mod projects focused on upgrading the graphics of older games. Here, a neural network is making predictions to fill in missing pixels of detail from a lower resolution game, movie, or TV show to reach higher resolutions.
Photorealism shouldn’t be considered the only graphical goal for video games to have, but this Intel Labs project does show there’s possibly much room to grow on the software side of things.