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Encyclopedia > Sprite (computer graphics)

In computer graphics, a sprite (also known by other names; see Synonyms below) is a two-dimensional/three-dimensional image or animation that is integrated into a larger scene. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... This article is about the scientific discipline of computer graphics. ... Look up image in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The bouncing ball animation (below) consists of these 6 frames. ...


Sprites were originally invented as a method of quickly compositing several images together in two-dimensional video games using special hardware. As computer performance improved, this optimization became unnecessary and the term evolved to refer specifically to the two dimensional images themselves that were integrated into a scene. That is, figures generated by either custom hardware or by software alone were all referred to as sprites. As three-dimensional graphics became more prevalent, the term was used to describe a technique whereby flat images are seamlessly integrated into complicated three-dimensional scenes. Computer and video games redirects here. ...

Contents

History

In the mid-1970s, Signetics devised the first video/graphics processors capable of generating sprite graphics. The Signetics 2636 video processors were first used in the 1976 Radofin 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System. Signetics, once a major player in semiconductor manufacturing, made a variety of devices which included integrated circuits, bipolar and MOS, the Dolby circuit, logic, memory and analog circuits and Motorola clone CPUs, some of which were included in the first Atari video games. ... The 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System is a video game console released by German company Radofin in 1976. ...


The Elektor TV Games Computer was the first PC capable of generating sprite graphics, which Signetics referred to as "objects". The term "sprite" was coined for the Texas Instruments TMS9918 [1]. The Elektor TV Games Computer is a programmable computer system released by Elektor circa 1978. ... Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), better known in the electronics industry (and popularly) as TI, is an American company based in Dallas, Texas, USA, renowned for developing and commercializing semiconductor and computer technology. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


During most of the 1980s, hardware speed was in the low, single-digit megahertz and memory was measured in mere kilobytes. Beside CISC processors, all chips are hardwired. Sprites are rare in most video hardware today. MegaHertz (MHz) is the name given to one million (106) Hertz, a measure of frequency. ... The terms storage (U.K.) or memory (U.S.) refer to the parts of a digital computer that retain physical state (data) for some interval of time, possibly even after electrical power to the computer is turned off. ... Depending on the context in which it is used, the word kilobyte may mean either 1,000 or 1,024 bytes. ... A Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) is an instruction set architecture (ISA) in which each instruction can indicate several low-level operations, such as a load from memory, an arithmetic operation, and a memory store, all in a single instruction. ... To execute instructions, a computers processor must generate the control signals used to perform the processors actions in the proper sequence. ...


The CPU can instruct the external chips to fetch source images and integrate them into the main screen using direct memory access channels. Calling up external hardware, instead of using the processor alone, greatly improved graphics performance. Because the processor is not occupied by the simple task of transferring data from one place to another, software can run faster; and because the hardware provided certain innate abilities, programs that use CISC or BIOS were also smaller. Direct memory access (DMA) is a feature of modern computers that allows certain hardware subsystems within the computer to access system memory for reading and/or writing independently of the central processing unit. ... A Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) is an instruction set architecture (ISA) in which each instruction can indicate several low-level operations, such as a load from memory, an arithmetic operation, and a memory store, all in a single instruction. ... For other uses, see Bios. ...


Separate locations in memory were used to hold the main display and the sprites. Some sprite engines could only store a small amount of positions in their registers and the unchallenged CPU was programmed to update them several times per frame. Software blitting was complicated by some very strange addressing modes into video ram.


Hardware sprites

In early video gaming, sprites were a method of integrating unrelated bitmaps so that they appear to be part of a single bitmap on a screen. Computer and video games redirects here. ... .BMP or . ... A computer display monitor, usually called simply a monitor, is a piece of electrical equipment which displays viewable images generated by a computer without producing a permanent record. ...


The blitter is a hardware implementation of the painter's algorithm. For each frame the sprites are first bit blited (short for "bit block transfer") into the fast, large, double, and costly frame buffer and then the frame buffer is sent to the screen. The blitter was renamed to graphics accelerators as more complicated rendering algorithms are used. The blitter has a high initial cost for simple scenes. A Blitter (acronym for BLock Image TransferrER) is a chip that specialises in bitmap data-transfer using bit blit methods. ... The painters algorithm is one of the simplest solutions to the visibility problem in 3D computer graphics. ... Bit blit (bitblt, blitting etc. ... The framebuffer is a part of RAM in a computer allocated to hold the graphics information for one frame or picture. ... “GPU” redirects here. ...


The sprite engine is a hardware implementation of scanline rendering. For each scanline the appropriate scanlines of the sprites are first copied (the number of texels is limited by the memory bandwidth and the length of the horizontal retrace) into very fast, small, multiple (limiting the # of sprites on a line), and costly caches (the size of which limit the horizontal width) and as the pixels are sent to the screen, these caches are combined with each other and the background. It may be larger than the screen and is usually tiled, where the tile map is cached, but the tile set is not. For every pixel, every sprite unit signals its presence onto its line on a bus, so every other unit can notice a collision with it. Some sprite engines can automatically reload their "sprite units" from a display list. The sprite engine has synergy with the palette. To save registers, the height of the sprite, the location of the texture, and the zoom factors are often limited. On systems where the word size is the same as the texel there is no penalty for doing unaligned reads needed for rotation. This leads to the limitations of the known implementations: Scanline rendering is an algorithm for visible surface determination, in 3D computer graphics, that works on a row-by-row basis rather than a polygon-by-polygon or pixel-by-pixel basis. ... For other uses, see cache (disambiguation). ... This article is about the picture element. ... Genlock (for Generator Lock) is a common technique where the video output of one source, or a specific reference signal, is used to synchronize other television picture sources together. ... The term screen has a number of meanings: A window screen is a wire mesh that covers a window opening to keep out insects even when the window is open. ... For other uses, see cache (disambiguation). ... The term background can have any of the following meanings: Background (computer software) refers to software that is running, but not being displayed. ... A tile-based game is a game that uses tiles as one of the fundamental elements of play. ... PCI Express bus card slots (from top to bottom: x4, x16, x1 and x16), compared to a traditional 32-bit PCI bus card slot (bottom) In computer architecture, a bus is a subsystem that transfers data or power between computer components inside a computer or between computers, and a bus... Display list - a group of GL (graphics language, e. ... Synergy (from the Greek synergos, συνεργός meaning working together, circa 1660) refers to the phenomenon in which two or more discrete influences or agents acting together create an effect greater than that predicted by knowing only the separate effects of the individual agents. ... A palette, in computer graphics, is a designated subset of the total range of colors supported by a computer graphics system. ...

Computer, chip Sprites on screen Sprites on line Max texels on line Texture width Texture height Colors Anisotropic zoom Rotation Background Collision detection Transparency Source
Amiga, Denise display list 8 16 arbitrary 3,15 no no bitmap yes color key
Atari, ANTIC display list 2,8 128, 256 1,3 yes color key [2]
C64, VIC-II display list run by CPU 8 12,24 21 1,3 1,2 no 1 tile layer yes color key [3]
Game Boy 40 10 80 8 8,16 3 no no color key [4]
GBA 128 32 256 8 8 yes yes affine mapped tile layer alpha
NES, RP2C0x 64 8 64 8 8,16 3 no no 1 tile layer partial color key [5]
Out Run, dedicated hardware 128 32 8 8 yes no 3 tile layers alpha [6], [7]
PC Engine, HuC6270A 64 8 16,32 16,32,64 15 no no color key
Sega Master System
Sega Game Gear
64 8 64 8 8,16 15 no no 1 tile layer color key [8]
Sega Mega Drive 80 20 320 8,16,24,32 8,16,24,32 15 no no 2 tile layers yes color key [9]
SNES 128 32 256 8,16,32,64 8,16,32,64 16 no (background scaling only) no (background rotation only) affine mapped tiles color key, averaging
Texas Instruments TMS9918 32 4 64 8,16 8,16 1 1,2 no 1 tile layer yes color key
Computer, chip Sprites on screen Sprites on line Max texels on line Texture width Texture height Colors Anisotropic zoom Rotation Background Collision detection Transparency Source

Many third party graphics cards offered sprite capabilities. Sprite engines often scale badly, starting to flicker as the number of sprites increases above the number of sprite units, or uses more and more silicon as the designer of the chip implements more units and bigger caches. ... Spherical texture mapping Texture mapping is a method, pioneered by Edwin Catmull, of adding detail, surface texture, or colour to a computer-generated graphic or 3D model. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... This article is about rotation as a movement of a physical body. ... In physical simulations, video games and computational geometry, collision detection includes algorithms from checking for intersection between two given solids, to calculating trajectories, impact times and impact points in a physical simulation. ... Transparency is possible in a number of graphics file formats. ... The Original Chip Set (OCS) was a chipset used in the earliest Commodore Amiga computers. ... The Original Chip Set (OCS) was a chipset used in the earliest Commodore Amiga computers. ... An Atari 800XL, one of the most popular machines in the series. ... AntiC (or JLint) is a programming tool for finding programming errors in source code. ... Close_up of C64 Commodore 64 (C64, CBM 64) was a popular home computer of the 1980s. ... The VIC-II (Video Interface Chip II), specifically known as the MOS Technology 6567/8562/8564 (NTSC versions), 6569/8565/8566 (PAL), is the integrated circuit chip tasked with generating composite video graphics and DRAM refresh signals in the Commodore 64 and C128 home computers. ... The Game Boy ) line is a line of battery-powered handheld game consoles sold by Nintendo. ... “GBA” redirects here. ... “NES” redirects here. ... Out Run (also spelled OutRun and Outrun) is a 1986 racing game designed by Yu Suzuki and Sega-AM2 for the video arcade market. ... The PC Engine was a video game console released by NEC, a Japanese company, in 1987. ... The Sega Master System ) or SMS for short (1986 - 2000), is an 8-bit cartridge-based video game console that was manufactured by Sega. ... The Sega Game Gear is a handheld game console which was Segas response to Nintendos Game Boy. ... The Sega Mega Drive ) is a video game console released by Sega in Japan in 1988, North America in 1989, and the PAL region in 1990. ... The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as Super Nintendo, Super NES or SNES, is a 16-bit video game console released by Nintendo in North America, Brazil, Europe, and Australia. ... // The TMS9918 Video Display Controller (VDC) was used in systems like MSX, ColecoVision, Texas Instruments TI-99/4, Memotech MTX500/MTX512/RS128 and Sega SG-1000/SC-3000. ... Not to be confused with Silicone. ...


Background

No sprite engine was implemented which would not cache the sprites texels, but use a FIFO at the pixel-output instead. This would allow sprites of arbitrary width. So while blitter based hardware uses a unified model for foreground and background and a fixed flat frame-buffer, sprites need a special background engine. It has to provide scrolling backgrounds for tile-based games and pseudo-3D (mode 7) backgrounds. This article is about FIFOs in computing and electronic design. ... A tile-based game is a game that uses tiles as one of the fundamental elements of play. ... Pseudo-3D is a term that means that something uses 2-d graphics to simulate three dimentional graphics. ... The term Mode 7 originated on the Super NES video game console, on which it describes a simple texture mapping graphics mode that allows a background layer to be rotated and scaled. ...


A similar discrimination is known from software rendering. A technique called "dirty rectangles" is used to redraw only those parts that have changed since the last repainted and a scrolling frame buffer is used. On more powerful CPUs the whole frame-buffer is flat and redrawn completely. CPU can stand for: in computing: Central processing unit in journalism: Commonwealth Press Union in law enforcement: Crime prevention unit in software: Critical patch update, a type of software patch distributed by Oracle Corporation in Macleans College is often known as Ash Lim. ...


Move to 3D

An example of sprite animation from the popular game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In this frame the sprouts of grass and brown puffs of smoke are integrated into the scene using sprites. Other objects in the frame such as the character (Link), the flower just behind his feet, and the rock walls and ground are more complicated three dimensional objects that employ texture mapping.
A closer look at the graphic can help reveal imperfections of this rendering technique. Take a look at the puffs of smoke about the character and to the left. Notice that one sprite at the bottom of the largest puff of smoke is cutting into the ground, revealing its actual geometry is not an amorphous puff but a flat plane. Also notice that the grass near his feet is interacting with the flower near his feet in a strange way. The base of the grass is closer to the camera than the flower yet the blades appear to be behind. For this to be a correct perspective the grass would have to be leaning toward the ground away from the camera at an obtuse angle. Even though the original image that created the grass sprite was clearly created using textured polygons, it is being added to this scene as a sprite. These imperfections escape the notice of most viewers because they are rare, and often do not last very long as they and the camera move.

Prior to the popularizing of true 3D graphics in the late 1990s, many 2D games attempted to imitate the look of three-dimensionality with a variety of sprite production methods. These included: Image File history File links SpriteExamplefromZeldaWindwalker. ... Image File history File links SpriteExamplefromZeldaWindwalker. ... The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (or Zeruda no Densetsu: Kaze no Takuto in Japan) is the ninth game in the well-known The Legend of Zelda series of video games. ... Spherical texture mapping Texture mapping is a method, pioneered by Edwin Catmull, of adding detail, surface texture, or colour to a computer-generated graphic or 3D model. ... Image File history File links SpriteExampleRevealed. ... Image File history File links SpriteExampleRevealed. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

  • Rotoscoping - The filmed performances of live actors were sometimes used for creating sprites, most famously in the case of Mortal Kombat which added a relative element of realism to a fighting game. The method was used in a number of other fighting games, mostly in the mid 90s.
  • Claymation or the use of posable models which were used for characters that could not be portrayed by actors. Famous early examples include Goro of Mortal Kombat and various enemies from Doom. Used to a greater extent in games like Clay Fighter.
  • Pre-rendered CGI models - Introduced into mainstream by Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country and later used to a great extent in PC real-time strategy and RPG games prior to the move to true 3D. Since computers of the day could not run complex 3D graphics, footage of pre-rendered three-dimensional character models were often used which created (a relative) illusion of 3D.

More often sprite now refers to a partially transparent two dimensional animation that is mapped onto a special plane in a 3D scene. Unlike a texture map, the sprite plane is always perpendicular to the axis emanating from the camera. The image can be: scaled to simulate perspective, rotated two dimensionally, overlapped with other objects, and be occluded, but it can only be viewed from the same angle. This rendering method is also referred to as billboarding. I like cheese. Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame, for use in animated films. ... Mortal Kombat was the first entry in the famous and highly controversial Mortal Kombat fighting game series by Midway, released in arcades in 1992. ... Screenshot of The King of Fighters XI (2005, SNK Playmore). ... The term Claymation is a registered trademark created by Will Vinton Studios to describe their clay animated movies; the more generic term is clay animation, but the portmanteau claymation has entered the English language as a genericized trademark. ... Goro is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. ... ClayFighter was a fighting game released for the SNES in 1993 and later ported to Sega Genesis in 1994. ... Computer-generated imagery (commonly abbreviated as CGI) is the application of the field of computer graphics (or more specifically, 3D computer graphics) to special effects in films, television programs, commercials, simulators and simulation generally, and printed media. ... Nintendo Company, Limited (任天堂 or ニンテンドー Nintendō; NASDAQ: NTDOY, TYO: 7974 usually referred to as simply Nintendo, or Big N ) is a multinational corporation founded on September 23, 1889[1] in Kyoto, Japan by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce handmade hanafuda cards. ... For the television series, see Donkey Kong Country (TV series). ... A real-time strategy (RTS) video game is one that is distinctly not turn-based. ... Computer role-playing games (CRPGs), often shortened to simply role-playing games (RPGs), are a type of video or computer game that traditionally use gameplay elements found in paper-and-pencil role-playing games. ... Spherical texture mapping Texture mapping is a method, pioneered by Edwin Catmull, of adding detail, surface texture, or colour to a computer-generated graphic or 3D model. ... Virtual camera Refers to a motion camera which is not real (this could also refer to a set of still cameras which are designed to behave as a motion camera), or is taking images of objects which are not real. ... A cube in two-point perspective. ... A term indicating that the state of something, which is normally open, is now totally closed. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Sprites create an effective illusion when:

  • the image inside the sprite already depicts a three dimensional object
  • the animation is constantly changing or depicts rotation
  • the sprite exists only for a short period of time
  • the depicted object has a similar appearance from many common viewing angles (such as something spherical)
  • the viewer accepts that the depicted object only has one perspective. (such as small plants or leaves)

When the illusion works viewers will not notice that the sprite is flat and always faces them. Often sprites are used to depict phenomena such as fire, smoke, small objects, small plants (like blades of grass), or special symbols (like "1-Up"). The sprite illusion can be exposed in video games by quickly changing the position of the camera while keeping the sprite in the center of the view. Sprites are also used extensively in particle effects and commonly represented pickups in early 3D games especially. Upon contact with this Super Mushroom, Mario earns 1000 points and doubles in size In video games, power-ups are objects which add extra abilities to the game character, and/or increase the players score upon being collected. ... The term particle system refers to a computer graphics technique to simulate certain fuzzy phenomena, which are otherwise very hard to reproduce with conventional rendering techniques. ... Pick-up is a slang term that is commonly used in a gaming context. ...


Sprites have also occasionally been used as a special-effects tool in movies. One such example is the fire breathing Balrog in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; the effects designers utilized sprites to simulate fire emanating from the surface of the demon. Small bursts of fire were filmed in front of a black background and made transparent using a luma key. Many bursts were then attached to the surface of the animated Balrog model and mixed with simulated smoke and heat waves to create the illusion of a monster made from fire. A Balrog fighting Gandalf, as depicted by Ted Nasmith. ... In graphics, keying is an informal term for compositing two full frame images together, by discriminating the visual information into values of color and light. ...


The term "sprite" is often confused with low resolution 2D graphics drawn on a computer, also known as pixel art. However, sprite graphics (bitmaps) can be created from any imaginable source, including prerendered CGI, dynamic 3D graphics, vector art, and even text. Likewise, pixel art is created for many purposes other than as a sprite, such as video game backgrounds, textures, icons, websites, display art, comics, and t-shirts. This monster (The Gunk) is an example of pixel art drawn using Microsoft Paint. ... This article is about the storage organization of raster images. ... Prerendered objects in video games are rendered by the creator of the game while it is being made. ... Computer-generated imagery (commonly abbreviated as CGI) is the application of the field of computer graphics (or more specifically, 3D computer graphics) to special effects in films, television programs, commercials, simulators and simulation generally, and printed media. ... The rewrite of this article is being devised at Talk:3D computer graphics/Temp. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... A roguelike is a computer game that borrows some of the elements of the 1980s computer game Rogue. ...


With the advancement in computer graphics and improved power and resolution, actual pixel art sprites are becoming increasingly infrequent outside of handheld game systems and cell phones.


Application

Sprites are typically used for characters and other moving objects in video games. They have also been used for mouse pointers and for writing letters to the screen. For on-screen moving objects larger than one sprite's extent, sprites may sometimes be scaled and/or combined. Operating a mechanical 1: Pulling the mouse turns the ball. ...


Billboarding is one term used to describe the use of sprites in a 3D environment. In the same way that a billboard is positioned to face drivers on a highway, the 3D sprite always faces the camera. There is both a performance advantage and an aesthetic advantage to using billboarding. Most 3D rendering engines can process "3D sprites" much faster than other types of 3D objects. So it is possible to gain an overall performance improvement by substituting sprites for some objects that might normally be modeled using texture mapped polygons. Aesthetically sprites are sometimes desirable because it can be difficult for polygons to realistically reproduce phenomena such as fire. In such situations, sprites provide a more attractive illusion.


Synonyms

Sprites have been known by several alternative names:

  • Player-Missile Graphics was used on the Atari 400/800 and Early Atari Coin Op games to refer to hardware-generated sprites. The term reflected the usage for both characters ("players") and other objects ("missiles"). They had restricted horizontal resolution (8 or 2 pixels, albeit with scalability, and a potential 192 lines of vertical resolution), limiting their use somewhat.
  • Movable Object Block, or MOB was used in MOS Technology's graphics chip literature (data sheets, etc). However, Commodore, the main user of MOS chips and the owner of MOS for most of the chip maker's lifetime, applied the common term "sprite".
  • On the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Game Boy, sprites were referred to as OBJs (short for "objects"), and the region of RAM used to store sprite attributes and coordinates was known as OAM (Object Attribute Memory). This still applies today on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS handheld systems.
  • BOB's or 'Blitter Objects', popular name for graphics objects drawn with the dedicated graphics blitter in the Amiga series of computers, which was available in addition to its true hardware sprites.
  • Software sprites were used to refer to subroutines that used bit blitting to accomplish the same goal on systems such as the Atari ST and the Apple II whose graphics hardware had no sprite capability.
  • The computer programming language DarkBASIC used the term Bob (for "blitter object") to refer to its software-sprite functions, before switching to the more conventionally-used "sprite" term.
  • 3D Sprite is a term often used to refer to sprites that are essentially texture mapped 3D facets that always have their surface normal facing into the camera.
  • Z-Sprite is a term often used for 3D environments that contain only sprites. The Z-parameter provides a scaling effect that creates an illusion of depth. For example in adventure games such as King's Quest VI where the camera never moves, normal 2D sprites might suffice, but Z-sprites provide an extra touch.
  • Impostor is a term used instead of billboard if the billboard is meant to subtly replace a real 3D object.

An Atari 800XL, one of the most popular machines in the series. ... MOS Technology, Inc. ... Commodore, the commonly used name for Commodore International, was an American electronics company based in West Chester, Pennsylvania which was a vital player in the home/personal computer field in the 1980s. ... “NES” redirects here. ... The Super Nintendo Entertainment System or Super NES (also called SNES and Super Nintendo) was a 16-bit video game console released by Nintendo in North America, Europe, Australasia, and Brazil between 1990 and 1993. ... For the entire Game Boy series of handheld consoles, see Game Boy line. ... “GBA” redirects here. ... NDS redirects here. ... The Atari ST is a home/personal computer that was commercially popular from 1985 to the early 1990s. ... The Apple II was one of the most popular personal computers of the 1980s. ... It has been suggested that DarkBASIC Professional be merged into this article or section. ... A surface normal, or just normal to a flat surface is a three-dimensional vector which is perpendicular to that surface. ...

Sprite culture

Main article: Spriting

"Spriters" mostly use them to become sprite comic artists, for the purpose of creating a comic. It has been continued by Adobe Flash animators who create sprite cartoons. In these communities, spriting has been made into small sections; recoloring, edits, customs/scratching, splicing, etc. Sprites can be alternated by using techniques such as the ones above. By doing this, Spriters can create their very own "Sprite character" to use in "Sprite sheets" to show that the sheet was made by that spriter but the spriter must put a "sprite tag" on the sheet saying something like "Please do not steal" or "give credit" or "If you wish to put this on your site, do not remove this tag", etc. Sprites can be edited from any game where sprites are available. Making pictures with sprites is called a "Hoax" which is the sprites in a group or doing certain actions but a "Hoax" is not a true image from a game. An example of a sprite. ... A strip from Bob and George, a popular sprite comic. ... Adobe Flash, or simply Flash, refers to both the Adobe Flash Player, and to the Adobe Flash Professional multimedia authoring program. ...


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