Featured demo – Inflorescence

Today’s featured demo is Inflorescence by mfx. Download it here. It’s about 4 minutes in length and 19.5 MB in size.

Since I’ve discovered Capped, I am happy to announce that you can now watch demos even if you have a sucky, I mean, graphics-card-challenged computer.

[Update: If the video doesn’t appear in your feed reader, please click through to the post or go direct to the source. If you know how to embed a video from Capped into an RSS feed so it shows up, let me know.]

My first impression? Very X-Files…

The demo makes heavy use of a technique called bump mapping. It allows you to create detailed surfaces with less polygons. For example, we have here a curved surface:

Surface without bump mapping

Perhaps we want it to be rougher in texture. Instead of pulling and pushing vertices out of alignment on the curved surface, we could use bump mapping. Tada!

Surface with bump mapping

Recalculating vertex normals so that light falls on the surface and create shadows correctly (due to physically shifting the vertices) is expensive. The cheaper way is to use the same 3D model, and add a processing step before the lighting calculations. Thus it looks like the vertices are physically changed, but aren’t.