This shader wasn’t really impressive to anyone but me i guess. Together with the sound, Deus Ex creates a really strong atmosphere. And i really like how it looks. I only can assume how they did this. I think they animate the UVs for the distortion and also move a tiled normalmap from top right to bottom left.
I don’t think that there is any vertex animation, because on the one hand, i can’t see any movement when looking at it from the side. On the other hand they would have to “lock” the border verts and this seems a bit too complicated to me.
After reading this text my friend Falk mentioned, that this trick is pretty easy to do via UDK. Ok….anyway i really like it and i didn’t noticed it in other games. He also confirmed my thoughts: it is UV animation plus a “overlayed” and moved tile able normalmap.
I found a tool which is able to give me a wireframe. You can clearly see, that there are not much UV intersections which made my theory of animated UVs worthless. But how did they move the fabric? An animated normal map would only have pushed/pulled out the folds.
I didn’t found any interesting texture in the memory. But then i went through all the options of the debug tool and found “Disable Texture Filtering”. And this is how it looked like. At first i thought it’s maybe a bug…
…but then i checked the textures again and found a small nice noise texture. And in combination with the picture above it’s pretty clear. They don’t use any normal map or UV distortion. They use parallax mapping (like said by JacqueChoi). I wasn’t sure because i thought an “animated” parallax map would mean an complete bake of a high resolution folding simulation. But now it’s more clear.
Of course the base for the folds is this. I’m not sure..looks like an object space normal map…i’m not sure if the b/w texture is used.
And instead of heaving a higher resolution texture with round half spheres (like I thought first), the scale this small noise texture and let the texture filtering do the work. Foxes!
Looks really nice and even the silhouette is moving! Works perfect for the pennants I would say. At least if you look towards at them. Seen from the side there’s no movement (like in Deus Ex):
Here’s the wireframe. Even if the banner looks really tesselated, the vertices aren’t moving in the game. I guess they’re used to mask areas where the silhouette moves a lot (at the bottom of the banner) or less (at the top/side of the banner):
It seems (but I can’t prove it) that in Batman they used normal maps for displacing the texture (while in Deus Ex it was a small grey-scale-texture). Like I said, I can’t prove it but these wavy normal maps look perfect for such use:
Here is another nice example for a “oh look a moving mesh – no wait, only the texture wiggles!”-effect:
As you can see from the side, the mesh is static. But here the surrounding metal-structures (which hold the cloth in place) help to hide the trick while in deus ex the borders of the fabric were exposed.