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GTA 5 photorealistic footage created using a machine learning model

GTA V
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

A GTA 5 photorealism video shows what the next GTA might look like by enhancing the game’s visuals via machine learning.

GTA 5 was a graphical marvel when it first released back in 2013, and while it’s had a few upgrades since then, it’s certainly starting to show it’s age. This beautiful photorealistic enhancement of GTA 5 not only makes Los Santos look like a real place, it also gives us an idea of what GTA 6 could aspire to. 

The video was posted to Youtube by Intel ISL and shared onto the r/videos subreddit. Sadly, you can’t play this photorealistic version of GTA 5, as this isn’t a mod that you can download. The photorealistic visuals are achieved by passing the game through an image enhancement network that uses photos of real world locations to alter the rendered image. 

This isn’t as simple as just getting an AI to enhance video footage of the game though. Instead, the team behind the footage also uses GTA 5’s rendering buffers to gain geometric information like surface normals and distance to the camera, along with other material information like lighting and reflectivity.

The results are incredibly impressive though, and you can definitely let yourself be fooled into thinking that you’re watching live action footage. What sets this method of image enhancement apart from most other techniques is that it is temporarily stable, which means you don’t get artifacts popping up when the image moves. 

The image data for this mod is actually based on German cities, which leads to some interesting mistakes like it turning the barren hillsides of Los Santos into verdant hills. Since it’s working on data from a temperate climate, the model expects hillsides to be covered in vegetation and so it “fixes” the error. Sorry AI model, that’s just what hills in LA look like.

Still, while this video presents an interesting “What If?” scenario for GTA 5, there’s plenty of life left in Rockstar’s open-world magnum opus. After all, a PS5 version is still due to launch this year, which was announced at last year’s Future of Play showcase, and should give us another reason to revisit the misadventures of Trevor, Michael, and Franklin. We can’t wait to see how it compares to this photorealistic video. 

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