Chapter 15. Noise

In computer graphics, it’s easy to make things look good. By definition, geometry is drawn and rendered precisely. However, when realism is a goal, perfection isn’t always such a good thing. Real-world objects have dents and dings and scuffs. They show wear and tear. Computer graphics artists have to work hard to make a perfectly defined bowling pin look like it has been used and abused for 20 years in a bowling alley or to make a space ship that seems a little worse for wear after many years of galactic travel.

This was the problem that Ken Perlin was trying to solve when he worked for a company called Magi in the early 1980s. Magi was working with Disney on a feature film called Tron that was the most ambitious film in its ...

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