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Nvidia Ansel introduces VR photography to games

Despite all the jazz surrounding virtual reality and gaming, there’s been little word on how the medium might bridge the gap between virtual reality experiences and regular games. But Nvidia knows what’s up. This week, the GPU manufacturer introduced its new screen capturing toolset Ansel, enabling in-depth screenshots on for both regular displays and virtual reality.

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There are a few reasons Nvidia may have developed this tool, aside from attracting more consumers. Finding the right timing for a beautiful screenshot while you’re getting eaten by a massive blob often carries deadly consequences. Nvidia draws a picture of how consumers are limited in their passion for screenshots, while professional game photographers are not. Many internet roamers have stood in awe at the work of photographers like Duncan Harris or Leonardo Sang. But they have access to developer specific tools that give them more room to find the shots they’re after. “That changes now however,” says Nvidia, “with the introduction of NVIDIA Ansel, a revolutionary, accessible game capture tool built in cooperation with leading game developers.” It’s aptly named after one of the world’s most recognized photographers: Ansel Adams.

A major feature coming along with Ansel is 360-degree photography. Take a photo in 360 degrees and then either transfer it to your phone or using Virtual Desktop to view the photos in a device like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. If we know the gaming community, the internet will see an influx in gaming VR photography soon.

Ansel also comes with a free camera mode. By activating Ansel, the game will pause and a freecam will be enabled. There’s no limit to how many screenshots you can take and the freecam will likely be well used by screenshot enthusiasts. A set of effect sliders activate upon roaming around with freecam, including Brightness, Vignette, Sketch, Color Enhancer, Field of View, Roll, and Capture type. Once you’ve set everything to your liking, you simply click “Snap” to save.

The company is especially keen to point out its ability to capture Super Resolution screenshots. Utilizing the CUDA Cores on the company’s GeForce GTX GPUs, you can render and save screenshots that are “tens of thousands of pixels in size.”

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Related: Ahead of the curve, Nvidia acts quickly to add Vulkan support to its GPUs

It also seems like Nvidia has put some thought into post-processing. Those who like filters can use them to tweak the atmosphere in the screenshots. There’s also an option to export images in OpenEXR format, which enables you to view HDR Super Resolution screenshots. According to the company, it results in almost no anti-aliasing and great amounts of detail. The company posted the image below to give an example of exactly how ridiculous a screenshot of that quality might look.

If you’re interested in making use of Ansel you need to fulfill certain requirements. First off, and expected from Nvidia, is that you must own one of their GeForce GPUs. As long as you’re sitting on something between GeForce GTX 650 and a GTX 1080 (which hasn’t been released yet), you’ll do fine.

Nvidia has yet to announce a release date but says that it’s coming soon. Games that will support the technology on launch include Tom Clancy’s The Division, The Witness, Law Breakers, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Paragon, No Man’s Sky, and Unreal Tournament.