No Need For The Real?

Rather than actually doing all that logistical cleverness than makes stuff like the commercial with 40,000 rubber balls released down a San Francisco possible, why not just use a videogame?


  1. phuzz says:

    I concur,

    (apart from the chicken at the end it’s almost impossible tell which is the real ad, well, the chicken and the labels.)

  2. Mickiscoole says:

    Why didn’t you thank gametrailers??

  3. Cargo Cult says:

    Took me a while to figure out what was bouncing around in the artificial version – then I realised.

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    I actually thanked GameTrailers in person at GDC, this negating the need for any further in jokery.

  5. Ben Hazell says:

    How did you thank them sufficently, and still manage to cover the event?

  6. drunkymonkey says:


    Really makes you appreciate how good at graphics and animation the Cryengine actually is.

  7. espy says:

    Consider how much easier it would have been (calculation-wise) to have uses spheres instead of teapots. I mean, spheres would have been ok and would have fit with the original, but teapots are just bragging, really.

  8. roBurky says:

    Wait, so the rubber balls ad wasn’t done with CG?

  9. Ben Hazell says:

    No it was real – there was this whole phase where lots of firms made impressive stunt adverts… however two years on we now assume every advert is a clever stunt, when really they’ve just gone back to knocking them out with CGI…

  10. Hugh says:


    A lot of it was real, but, as with the Paint one, it was “topped up” with CG….

    But yes – they did release shed-loads (or should that be lorry-loads) of balls down a street in San Francisco

    There are some great photos on Flickr. This set is particularly cool!

  11. Wroth says:

    Espy, they still could’ve used a spherical collision mesh.

  12. Kadayi says:

    We are still a long way off from decent ultra realistic CGI tbh, in fact we might never get there. We are good at replicating perfect forms, not so good at building in the flaws that make objects look convincingly real though (surfaces are rarely perfect in reality, there’s dust, dirt, scratches and imperfections everywhere).

  13. yxxxx says:

    I have to say some of the ads that sony have come up with or there bravia tvs have been great. and that video was brilliant.

  14. John H says:

    The unfortunate thing is that when I first saw the advert, I assumed it was CG anyway. Same goes for the Bravia paint advert.

    The very existence of CG ruins my ability to be astonished by moving images.

  15. terry says:

    I want to do this sort of thing when/if I grow up.

  16. Zell says:

    Hate to be a downer, but if anything that comparison showed me that as gorgeous as modern game engines can be, they still have no chance of capturing all the nuances of reality. Better to stick to fantasy worlds. Uncanny valley territory!

  17. Meat Circus says:

    Reality has better shaders.

    Getting the correct drivers is a bitch though.

  18. Phil says:

    My sight is so poor after years of infrequent blinking and games induced eye strain NES graphics look photo realistic to me.

  19. Jens Arnesen says:

    Kadayi: “Never” is a very strong word. Remember when the first Far Cry came out? Everyone thought “this is as realistic as it gets!” – and look at Far Cry 2 trailers now, just a few years later. I think photo realistic videogames are not too distant into the future – perhaps 20-30 years, at a minimum. The medium is evolving insanely fast, and well-done CGI effects are almost indistinguishable from actual movie material already, it’s only a matter of time before they take the leap and leave you in control of it.

  20. terry says:

    Procedural rust, anyone?

    edit: dang I miss that comments preview :(

  21. Masked Dave says:

    (apart from the chicken at the end it’s almost impossible tell which is the real ad, well, the chicken and the labels.)


    All I saw was Crytech saying ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we looked this good?’

    That was a really damn poor advert for their engine. (If they’d compared it to any other game engine doing the same thing I’m sure it would have been great, but that’s not the point.)

    It’s like that solider game that’s advertising at the minute that starts with live action and then shows you exactly how much the game doesn’t look like that.

    You don’t compare yourself to what you’re not as good as.

  22. Zell says:

    Jens: Aye, but when you’re looking at the 20-year perspective it’s not the quality of the rendering that’s the choke point, but of simulation. Movies have absolute control over their environment. Games have to illustrate a dynamic reality, and the more precise they get at showing nuance, the more work you have to put into simulating the nuances. Sometimes, the obviously CG is better than the almost-perfect-yet-eerile-just-a-bit-wrong-on-some-animal-level.

  23. Muzman says:

    Yeah, it’s cute that what would have been pre rendered a few years ago is in real time and they went to a lot of bother, clearly, but it does serve to illustrate that it’s not there yet.
    (The traditional CG stumbling block of motion blur is still the biggest giveaway. It doesn’t help that the Crysis using folks didn’t even attempt to replicate the high speed work in the original ad, by the looks).
    Cute though. They should have just remade it instead of the whole picture in picture thing (with the crysis frame generally the smaller). Maybe that version is floating around somewhere.

  24. Sum0 says:

    I agree with Jens, photorealism is a matter of perspective. I remember the first time I saw Max Payne or even Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and they looked so real… Now, of course, they’re outdated, but it’s marching on so fast that we won’t be able to see the joins in a decade or so. (Look at the leap between HL1 and Crysis in 10 years, and then extrapolate…)

  25. Muzman says:

    It’s not a matter of perspective, it’s a matter of experience. The audience is gradually becoming more visually sophisticated and learing to recognise consciously the errors that present themselves in such material. Unconsciously you always knew something wasn’t quite right.

  26. caesarbear says:

    While it does look quite impressive, I am hoping that those of you claiming that you can’t tell reality from CG are just engaging in hyperbole. There is still a very long way to go before a computer can completely fool a human eye.

  27. Kadayi says:

    @Jens Arnesen

    I say we might never achieve it partly because, reality is so much more random than man made virtual creations tend to be. Even really high end animations don’t hold up under scrutiny, take for example the recent Beowulf film. Impressive CGI all the way through, and no doubt the result of some serious render farms, a single frame can look pretty realistic, but when it’s running and in motion, the illusion falls apart quickly. As Muzman says, the more CGI pushes, the more people become adept at spotting it. I recall when the Abyss came out and everyone was like ‘whoa’ about the water tentacle scene. Now you look at it and think…that’s some bad CGI, but at the time it blew people away.

  28. Al Fire 101 says:

    They actually dumped 250,000 bouncy balls and they have a new commercial out that is with play-doh. Its amazing and you can find it: link to

  29. Crispy says:

    The Bravia ad was originally made with the intention of getting across the three qualities of beauty, richness of colour and sharpness of picture. I hate to say it but the Far Cry attempt only really flirts with the beauty factor because it’s lacking in the other two departments. It’s a noble effort, though.