We’re long past debating whether or not video games are art. As the hardware powering them advances at a breakneck pace, games continue to grow more achingly beautiful each year. Whether it’s the gritty streets of New York in The Division, or the vivid pastels of No Man’s Sky, my favorite hobby really showcases what’s possible with a digital canvas and millions of lines of code. Capturing those stunning little moments, though? That borders from frustrating to randomly successful. Fortunately Nvidia is introducing a new technology called Ansel that not only makes snagging those screenshots easier, but gives users powerful control over the resulting photographs — and even turns them into 360-degree photos automatically.
Nvidia’s Ansel tool lets you freeze time within a game at any point, and then move the camera around freely to capture the perfect angle. Once you’ve captured your perfect photo, you can then manipulate it with what appear to be simple sliders for adjusting tons of complex post-processing filters.
That’s not even the coolest part. Ansel supports EXR capture, which saves your photo in the highest color spectrum for HDR and exporting over to Photoshop. Oh, and let’s talk about resolution: up to 32x your game’s resolution, or 8-Gigapixels.
I lied, that’s not the coolest part either. Ansel can capture 360-degree panoramic screenshots. It automatically stitches the 360-degree panorama in mono or stereo and you can view the resulting image in Google Cardboard or your desktop VR headsets. In fact if you have Cardboard you can download the NVIDIA VR Viewer app right now, and it comes bundled with a variety of Ansel 360 screenshots for you to sample.
The downside is that this is far from a being a ubiquitous tool. It’s being developed in partnership with a few studios and will be incorporated out of the gate in games like The Witness, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Paragon, No Man’s Sky, Law Breakers, Paragon, and Unreal Tournament. Hopefully down the road this becomes a universal tool available as part of Nvidia’s GeForce driver software, and one that also lets us capture those same 360-degree screenshots from our favorite VR games.
There’s no firm release date for Ansel, but I’ll be checking it out first hand at Nvidia’s Editor’s Day event this weekend.