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This is techno-sorcery!
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Ambient occlusion information is precious. It helps you simulate different effects and add depth to your objects. can be. Substance Designer is all about AO, where many effects completely depend on this element. Allegorithmic has presented a new solution for this part of your workflow.
Not so long ago, the only way to obtain this AO map was to bake it from your 3D mesh, which gives good results but relies on an offline process.
As we needed a dynamic solution to build interesting graphs, we created the first version of the Ambient Occlusion node which was driven by a height map only. This was very useful for creating most of the effects you enjoy today.
That said, while it’s extremely handy, the quality of the ambient occlusion node wasn’t comparable to a baked ambient occlusion map, and you had to choose between flexibility or quality.
We decided it was time to rework this node so that you don’t have to make this compromise, and we are extremely proud to introduce the new Ambient Occlusion node in Substance Designer 5.6!
The images above show a possible difference.
The raytracer bake takes 90 seconds to calculate the image, while the AO filter is stated to take 5 milliseconds being 18,000 times faster. The algorithm is based on the Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion research produced by NVIDIA.