NVIDIA's just-launched Maxwell-based GeForce GPUs bring a lot to the table - something Marco's in-depth article from last Thursday does well to highlight. Without question, one of the most impressive (and complicated) features NVIDIA packed into Maxwell was unparalleled rendering performance of Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI for short), a super advanced lighting system.
To help prove to the world just how impressive VXGI is, NVIDIA decided to create a demo that'd help prove Apollo moon landing naysayers wrong, based entirely on the materials present in the scene, as well as the sun's location. First and foremost, here's a recreation of one of the most famous Apollo landing photographs:
In order to make the scene as perfect with the original as possible, VXGI was brought in to calculate light throughout the entire scene. As the shot below shows, the scene is broken down into many different voxels, is sampled heavily - taking into account each and every snippet of material present - and then generates the result on-the-fly.
One of the biggest complaints people have about the moon landing is that when Buzz Aldrin descends onto the moon, there's a bright light on his opposite side. Many have speculated that this was a studio camera, especially since it was earlier proven that the sun was on the other side. But, as the shot below clearly shows, that bright light was actually Neil Armstrong. It just so happens that these spacesuits were so reflective, that at that correct angle, the sun basically turned Armstrong into a nightlight.
Granted, NVIDIA's not the first to suggest these things, but it is the first to provide a recreation that uses extremely realistic lighting. In creating the scene, the company made sure that the material properties matched the real materials present, and so when you see Armstrong turned into a bright light here, it's not because NVIDIA programmed it that way - it's the result of these intense lighting calculations.
Perhaps the best thing about this is, NVIDIA says that it will eventually release this demo to the public (likely exclusive to Maxwell owners) in the near-future so that we can see the results for ourselves - and also adjust many variables on our own. Without a doubt, this is an incredibly cool proof-of-concept for VXGI.