Battlefield 3 / Last Week

So I got BF3 on the day it came out, installed asap, was amazed. The graphics, particularly in the campaign, are stunning. I decided I was going to play the campaign first to get a feeling for controls etc before taking on multi-player. I got about half way through the campaign before I tried it. It feels very similar to BF2 in game style so I was quick to get into it. I didn't play any of the Battlefield games in between so cannot comment on the evolution of the series.

I have to admit I'm not great. I will hold my hands up and admit at one point I googled around for advice on how to not to die so quickly... not that it particularly helped. One thing I could relate to was the large number of forum posts with people complaining about the fact they could empty entire clips into enemies who would fire only two shots back and kill them!

BF3 View from above

Fantastic graphics over the huge levels

Turns out the answer is simple you need to shoot first and you need to shoot accurately. Obvious, yet this was my major problem. I had noticed when using a sniper rifle that despite getting an upgrade to allow reloading while aiming, I stopped aiming anyway. It made me pay more attention to what I was doing. I noticed I would often see the enemy first, I put that down to having fast computer, low ping and being observant. Problem was I would naturally then 'aim' (with scope) before shooting, accurate yes but not fast. By the time I had decided they were the enemy and started aiming they would have noticed me.

I then tried to avoid 'aimed' fire (ie shooting from the hip) and found that by starting the shooting that fraction of a second earlier makes a MASSIVE difference. Seems that getting the first hit to the chest is more effective on average then trying to get the first hit to the head. Obviously sometimes you get lucky and a bullet hits their head anyway making the whole process a lot quicker!

Anyway, once I had this realisation I became much more effective when running around.

BF3 Long Range Kill

400m headshot, first attempt 😀

At a similar time to this enlightenment I unlocked a 12x scope and bipod for my sniper rifle which dramatically increased my effectiveness at long range encounters.

The bipod allows the scope to be held perfectly still making lining up precise shots relatively easy. For the very long distance shots, the challenge becomes combining the delay for the bullet to travel and the bullet drop. The difference in height between the centre of the scope and the blood splatter shows the significant bullet drop over long range.

My longest headshot to date is 551m, while I enjoy trying to make this as large as possible I don't think it will increase much beyond this as the opportunity to make shots this long is so infrequent.

Gallery

Continue reading

New Computer!

A lot of things have changed since my last post... One big change is that I finally upgraded my computer. I have been using a Dell M1710 XPS laptop for over 5 years, has been great but lacks the credentials required for many modern games. Sporting a 512MB Nvidia Geforce Go 7950 GTX , it didn't tick the box for DirectX 10, aka 8000 series or newer graphics cards. It could run crysis on low/medium settings at about 1280x800, still looked good, on a faster system it just looked even better!

my new pc

Anyway, now I have plenty of juice 😎  earlier today I finished my first run through the new Deus Ex game, all graphics set to max and 1920x1200 resolution with faultless frame rates. I loved the first two Deus Ex games so seemed fitting to break the PC in with the latest one. 

This was the first computer I have ever built from scratch and I'm very pleased with the result. I bought all the parts from Overclockers UK who provided helpful pre-purchase advice. Turned out within the first 48 hours, one of my RAM sticks was faulty. I was planning a long drive the next day so gave them a call and was able to take a detour via their shop and swap the RAM there and then. Absolutely perfect, no down time for my computer and the extra petrol cost less that the postage back.

Parts

Intel Core i7 2600K & Asus P8Z68-V PRO Intel Z68 Mainboard
MSI GeForce GTX 570 OC Twin FrozR III Power Edition 1280MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
Cooler Master CM-690 II Nvidia Edition Advanced Dominator Case
Antec TruePower New Modular 750W '80 Plus Bronze' Power Supply
OCZ Agility 3 60GB SATA-3 Solid State Hard Drive
LG BH10LS30 10x BluRay-RW / 16 x DVD-RW Drive
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache
Kingston HyperX Genesis 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit
Akasa Venom CPU Cooler
TP-Link 300Mbps Wireless N PCI Adapter

Modifications

CPUz and GPUz

Shows my Core i7 running at 4.4Ghz

Using ASUS TurboV EVO automatic overclocking my CPU now runs up to 4.4Ghz, up from 3.4Ghz! I have also added three 30cm green cold cathrode lights to the inside of my case. This was mainly because I thought my lovely green window looked dull under a desk... now it lights my feet up! Whoop!

 

Gallery

Continue reading

Playing with HDR… Keeping it real

In my last post I showed some of the interesting effects that can be made with HDR. I tried to make it clear that the technique can also be used to create enhanced but realistic photos. As I explained, HDR is used to add additional light information to the photo which allows these extreme effects to be created. To demonstrate a more realistic processing I'm going to use the same starting image as last time:

Single Exposure of Table

Original

Software edit of simple table exposure

Software Edit

 

As can be seen in the original image the sky is overexposed while the shadows are very dark. While this can be edited in any decent photo software, the result will look similar to the right image. This edited image shows far more detail in the shadows and some more in the sky. This edit was only made possible due to the camera saving into a RAW format.

HDR Table with more realistic tone mapping

5 Image HDR

The final edit shows the same level of improvement over the original photo (in terms of detail) as the dramatic edits of the last post. The same type of processing is applied but less strongly allowing the photo to retain a more natural feel.

Playing with HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. HDR basically refers to an image having a range of brightnesses greater than the camera is capable of capturing, in a single photo. The way these are taken is with a series of exposures which with computer trickery are combined into a 32bit picture file. These cannot be displayed on normal computer screens/TVs so are 'photoshopped' back to a regular 16 or 8bit file. While this can give realistic results, it also allows for some wacky effects to be created.

I'm not going to go into the details on how to create these effects but will provide some links to tutorials at the bottom. I wanted to test the benefit of multiple exposure HDR over single exposure pseudo-HDR (the cheat method*). Additionally, I wanted to test how many exposures are needed for the best result. The three examples below show some of the effects HDR photography can lead to:

Mini in HDRSt David's Cathedral in HDRHDR of cars

 

Single Vs Multiple Exposure HDR

There are times when either are appropriate but traditionally, the 'best' results will always come from a multiple exposure HDR. If there is movement in the scene you will get ghosting, which is the name given to the strange grey halos found around the moving objects (this can include plants/leaves moving in the wind). Software can reduce ghosting and in certain cases, remove it completely but a detailed tree scene on a windy day is going to have too much movement. *In these cases you can try single exposure HDR; this is only effective if you camera saves in RAW mode. Continue reading