SIGGRAPH 2018: Create Stunning Visuals on a Limited Budget

Intel® Software Innovator Alice Mo Explains How to Make Great Graphics Using Only CPU

Computer graphics artist and Intel® Software Innovator   Alice Mo and her team at Edsenses will demonstrate how they’ve been able to save time and money by creating GPU-like graphics using only CPUs at SIGGRAPH 2018.  SIGGRAPH is a five-day event showcasing the latest tech in computer graphics (CG), animation, virtual reality, games, digital art, mixed reality and emerging technologies.

Project:  CG-rendered Game Trailer

Alice and her team will share their experience in how they managed to create stunning visuals in a limited timeframe using Intel® CPUs.  When it comes to CG rendering, a lot of companies are using the latest generation of GPUs as they claim that they render 10x faster than a CPU.  The problem is that GPUs are expensive, especially the higher-end ones like the Nvidia GeForce* GTX 1080 Ti graphics card.

Edsenses uses a more classical approach of rendering multiple passes for compositing, allowing them to have more control over the look and feel of the visuals and still get the same results in the same timeframe as a GPU.

Their process utilizes rendering separate passes of the visuals across multiple CPUs on different PCs.  This method doesn’t burden the CPU, therefore allowing it to render faster.  If the multiple passes occurred simultaneously on a single PC, it would take a lot longer to render, as it requires a lot of CPU or GPU power to calculate the render of each frame.  But when the layers are separated out, you can use different PCs to render different layers, creating a more productive and time-saving result for final visuals with a limited budget.

Designing a Game Trailer

Creating a trailer is very different than designing a game.  The trailer is more about creating elements of CG that allow you to work more on the lighting and cheat on the realistic side of the visual.  This means that if some part of the visual doesn’t turn out right, it can be fixed later in post-production, whereas in-game visuals need to be precise.  Every detail of the models and art need to be considered; otherwise the visuals will be unappealing and the game won’t run at 60fps.  A game that lags and doesn’t run smoothly will frustrate the gamer as players are unable to interact in real-time.  Even if the visuals were stellar, this would make the game meaningless and ultimately unplayable.

The End of Tomorrow (TEOT) is a game focused on humanity in the aftermath of an apocalyptic war.  The cause of the war isn’t known and the lead player in the story interacts with other live characters as well as non-playing characters to reunite and fight against the enemy for the future of their children.  A key part of the story is that each individual decision affects the story by either helping or damaging the lives of others, and the consequences of each decision can’t be undone.


Alice wanted to bring this project to SIGGRAPH because she felt that they could share some of their experiences with other small production companies.  Knowing that lots of companies want to create great visuals within a limited budget, they felt others could benefit from what they’ve learned about making visuals using CPUs without the heavy investment in GPU cards.

Project Challenges

The challenges Edsenses experienced are the whole inspiration behind this project.  They needed to create realistic visuals for their game trailer but were unable to buy the expensive graphics cards for GPU rendering.  They began exploring to find a method that allowed them to do compositing in rendering multilayers using the CPUs that they had on hand.

Technical Details

Their team uses Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors for visual simulation with Mental Ray*, Maya* and Adobe* After Effects compositing software to create their visual effects work.

Next Steps

The next steps for this project are two-pronged:  first they want to enhance the visuals for the game, and second, they want to improve the method so it can be scaled for larger projects.

Many game engines within the industry utilize multilayered texture for improved graphical effects so the team wants to implement it into their game as well.  Multilayer texturing helps to create a more realistic visual in games while using less calculation on the CPU and more on the GPU.  The technology that game creation is lacking is polygon count; it’s their hope that future gaming engines will support a higher polygon count with more efficient calculation with less stress on the CPU and GPU power.

They’re also working toward larger projects, including visual effects for the film industry.  These projects need a lot of powerful rendering engines of both CPU and GPU power, however their multilayer methods can still be utilized for future development in larger projects, saving time and money during production.

Intel® Software Innovator Alice Mo

Alice Mo is the General Manager of Edsenses and a member of the Intel® Software Innovator program.  Edsenses is a production services company that’s always been highly involved in CG production.  With a constant need for a lot of CPU calculation for effect simulation and rendering, they’ve brought in people who have specialized skills in different areas to be as efficient as they can.  The team is small, but each member is very experienced in his or her own field, whether it be crafting models for detailed characters and scenes, animation for film and games to bring the characters to life, or visual artists who specialize in creating concept visuals that are impressive and up-to-date in modern design.

Want to learn more about the Intel® Software Innovator Program?

You can read about our innovator updates, get the full program overview, and learn more about innovator benefits.  We also encourage you to check out Developer Mesh to learn more about the various projects that our community of innovators are working on.

Interested in more information? Contact Wendy Boswell

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