EA Has Revealed Its Next-Generation Hair Technology

If you thought the future of gaming graphics was ray-tracing, it seems you were completely wrong. The future is the hair. Lovely, long, flowing hair. EA has shown off the work that a team of developers has been doing with the Frostbite Engine to bring in-game hair into the future.

Frostbite Hair Montage

Uploaded by Electronic Arts on 2019-05-20.

The team has been working hard on hair shading, scattering, smoothness, and volume, harnessing the power of Frostbite to make those locks look as real as possible. While the impact of the video is ruined slightly by the oddly jarring nature of the catwalk-like animations and the strangely formless mannequin, the hair really does look good. Okay, it doesn’t look real, but it certainly looks closer than pretty much anything we have right now.

Hair Montage: Volume Preservation

Uploaded by Electronic Arts on 2019-05-20.

The second video is definitely more of a step into the uncanny valley than the first. The realism falls apart in large part due to the unrealistic nature of the starting bouffant, but it is definitely more of a test of the hair’s reaction to direction and speed changes more than anything else.

While I have seen some people argue that it might be better to make Frostbite easier to work with, especially after horror stories like those that broke after the development of Anthem, I don’t really buy that. Different teams can do different things, and some people working on hair tech doesn’t mean that others cannot work on other aspects of the engine.

What we can see on display in the videos is a step in the right direction for hair rendering in game, and I’m interested in learning more about the work the team has put in.