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Nvidia's Ansel: Capture Images From Within Your Games Like Never Before

Nvidia's Ansel is designed to give you all the tools you need to create artistic in-game screenshots of your favorite scenes. Take control of the camera, change the lighting, add a vignette, or snap a 360-degree image.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang revealed a surprising new addition to the company’s portfolio of graphics technologies. The company founder talked about a new form of artwork that has emerged from the gaming community. Several digital artists have made a name for themselves by capturing breathtaking images of video game scenes. Huang said that some of those artists are able to capture such imagery only with access to custom builds of games, granting them access to change camera positions and other options. Huang said that he wanted these features to be accessible to anyone, so Nvidia created Ansel.

It's an in-game 3D camera system that lets you capture anything your heart desires, with all the control of a digital camera. Ansel includes features such as Free Camera, which gives you free reign over the camera’s position and motion, allowing you to break free from the standard in-game viewpoint. Ansel also offers the ability to apply filters to your images that let you change the look and feel of your screenshot. You can apply vignettes, change the brightness or the color levels, and even adjust the camera angle. You can also export EXR data so you can later edit the images in Photoshop to apply even more effects.

Ansel includes Super Rez technology, which can render images at 32x your monitor's native resolution. Huang said that Ansel will let you render an image with 1000x higher resolution than an iPhone 6 can capture. The maximum resolution capture of a game running on 4K screen works out to be 61,440 x 34,560 pixels. The incredibly high resolution will enable you to crop the image as you desire, without limiting the final output resolution.

Most impressive is the ability to choose between native resolution, high resolution, 360-degree, stereo image, and even 360-degree stereo image capture. When you grab an image in this way, you can use a VR HMD, such as an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift, to view it. If you don’t have an expensive PC-connected VR HMD, Nvidia also offers the ability to view the images from your phone with a Cardboard VR viewer and an app you can download. If you don’t have a Cardboard viewer, you can view the images in 360-degree pano instead. 

Ansel isn’t available with every game--developers do have to add support for it to their titles--but Nvidia said that developer response has been positive. There are already seven titles announced that support Ansel’s 3D camera system: The Division, The Witness, Lawbreakers, The Witcher III: Wildhunt, Paragon, No Man’s Sky and Unreal Tournament. Nvidia said that more titles will be announced in the near future.

Nvidia did not reveal when Ansel will be released, but you can download the Nvidia VR Viewer app today and check out some sample 360-degree screenshots.

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Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.