Friday, June 24 2005

We're getting much closer to having Lost Coast ready to release. Originally planned as a section of the Highway 17 chapter of Half-Life 2, Lost Coast is a playable technology showcase that introduces High Dynamic Range lighting to the Source engine.

Once Lost Coast is released, we will include HDR in our future product releases. For instance, Day of Defeat: Source will feature HDR lighting for all of its levels the day it is released.

One of the fundamental pieces of HDR rendering lies in "dynamic tonemapping." In the Source engine, by varying the exposure of a scene based on how much light is visible, we can accurately simulate a range of brightness that is beyond what a computer monitor is physically capable of displaying. A real-world example of this effect happens every time you walk from a very dark room to an outdoor area with very bright sunlight -- your eye takes a few moments to adjust to the variance in the amount of light hitting the retina. If you have a video card that supports HDR, you'll be able to see this in the engine when Lost Coast is released.

Lost Coast HDR video - 12MB - Windows Media formatStatic screenshots of HDR fail to capture this effect, but if you click on this image you can watch it happen in a scene from the Lost Coast. Note that the left-hand side of the screen is running in Fixed Aperture (non-HDR) mode, and the right-hand side with High Dynamic Range.

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