NVIDIA Shakes Its Flowing Mane With Life-Like HairWorks 1.1 Demo

This is far and away the most thought we’ve ever given to a wig on a manikin, but after you see Nvidia’s latest tech demo, you’ll understand why we’re rather excited. The video is of Nvidia HairWorks 1.1, a simulation and rendering tool for creating lifelike hair and fur in video games.

hairworks manikin

In this clip, Nvidia shows off a Fabio-style hairdo with about 500,000 hairs that bounce and sway as the camera circles. If this was a real wig, it might unseat YouTube’s most boring video ever. But as an example of what Nvidia can do with hair physics, it’s pretty darn cool. Previous demos of HairWorks showed up to 22,000 strands of hair, making the jump to half a million much bigger. The video was recorded with ShadowPlay on an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, which has some serious muscle, though it’s not the most powerful card in Nvidia’s lineup.

What’s cooler than making life-like human hair? Putting flowing manes on vicious monsters, of course. Nvidia HairWorks plays a role in bringing more than a dozen creatures to life in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The bears and wolves look pretty ferocious, but the more hardcore monsters end up with some of the more amazing manes.

The HairWorks technology also plays a huge role in bringing tigers and other animals to life in Far Cry 4. According to Nvidia, the animals sport hundreds of thousands of hairs, though the Fabio model in Nvidia’s latest demo appears to have the most hairs at 500,000.

Unfortunately AMD Radeon users won’t get to experience this sort of detail: HairWorks 1.1 is an Nvidia effect, so you’ll need Nvidia graphics hardware to enjoy it. At this point in gaming, you probably won’t stick with Nvidia just so can enjoy watching individual hair strands bounce on game characters, but it’s fun to see what Nvidia can do.