I worked on making deformable vector displacement on the volcanoes in Lava.

This was to reduce geometric complexity, by having a 3D displacement map on a coarse mesh. The displacement map was generated by converting a manually modeled displacement from ZBrush and MudBox into a Ptex or UVs.

Geometric complexity is not usually a problem in film (and is usually seen as a restraint in games), but, in this case, our model needed to work at both far distances and very, very close, without consuming the entire rendering system’s memory.

Vector displacement at Pixar was traditionally not deformable, being stored in object space. I transitioned the studio to using tangent space maps, defined by the inherent UV space on any model, through the winding order of each face’s vertices.

I contributed to the open-source repository of Ptex with an additional filtering mode to preserve vector displacement continuity across filtering edges.