CD Projekt Red’s upcoming blockbuster title, Cyberpunk 2077 will use a hybrid Global Illumination technique, partly using rasterization and the rest based on ray-tracing. Speaking to PCGamer, the team said the following:
We implemented ray tracing into our engine to work as a hybrid solution, meaning that we can replace certain systems with its ray-traced version. For example, our core Global Illumination system uses light that comes from the sky, sun, and all location light sources to dynamically produce bounce light. In ray tracing mode, we use our main GI to produce only the bounced light, while the main light that comes from the sky is ray-traced, giving it much better shaping and details in shadows.CDPR
This means that the actual global illumination (indirect lighting) will be raster-based while the lighting from direct sources such as the sun, sky, and moon will leverage ray-tracing to save performance and have a more substantial impact on visual quality. Furthermore, it looks like at the time of launch only GeForce RTX GPUs will support ray-tracing, while AMD RDNA 2 and consoles will get it at a later date, with possible modifications. You can read more about GI and lighting in the below post:
The second intriguing topic from the discussion was with respect to NPC facial animation. Cyberpunk 2077 uses JALI, an AI-based facial animation algorithm to bring the characters of the night city to life:
Doing facial motion capture for every NPC in the game is impossible. You have to remember that we’re talking about recording massive amounts of lines with numerous actors across different localizations, cooperating with studios all over the world for sessions, and doing VO pickups all the way until the very last moments sometimes. Using JALI we’re able to successfully overcome many difficulties, for example, logistical ones, that this undertaking would otherwise pose with regular facial motion capture.
When I think about this relationship between CD PROJEKT RED and JALI in general, it reminds me of the quote from John Lasseter who once said that the art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art. In my opinion, what we’ve managed to achieve with Cyberpunk 2077 proves that.CDPR