Lighting Design Tools for Interactive Entertainment

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Abstract

Interactive entertainment is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, collecting more than $1 billion in revenues. According to the first quarter Video Gaming report published in 2005, gamers have expanded beyond the expected 8-34 old male demographic to include women, Hispanics, and African Americans. Interactive entertainment is also flourishing in global markets, including North America, Japan, China, and Korea. Recently, India has also entered this market with their first international release of a AAA 3D game title Ghajini –The Game. For such a global and fast growing industry, the development of better tools and processes to facilitate the development cycle is becoming an important problem. A typical AAA video game production cycle is around 6 years of development with development budgets of $50+ million dollars. While research in developing production tools has been underway for areas such as animation, writing, character scripting, and event scripting, other areas such as lighting design have received very little attention. This chapter discusses our research exploring the design and development of production tools for video game lighting, starting with our first lighting design tool the Expressive Lighting Engine (ELE) and finishing with our latest lighting design tool the System for Automated Interactive Lighting (SAIL). We will describe these tools in detail and present a research study discussing how such tools were received by visual designers. The chapter ends with speculations on the future and the utility of such tools.