## What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, you could point out a number of things to answer that question. There’s some pretty obvious aliasing, a random pixel on the ground which should be in shadow but isn’t, it’s noisy, boring etc. But that’s not my point. The point is: It’s too dark! I know it’s too dark because I know how I rendered it, and I rendered it wrong. It still kind of looks acceptable (well to me at least) though. I’m not sure that I would say that it’s implausibly dark if I didn’t know…

In my previous post, I wrote very briefly about anÂ  important improvement to the irradiance caching algorithm – irradiance gradients – and I’m going to expand on rotational gradients this time. Gradients The gradient of a function represents both the direction and rate of change of that function as the inputs vary. For a one dimensional function this is simply the derivative of the function. As you move into higher dimensions, you need to consider which coordinate system the inputs for the function are specified in, as this will change…

Solving the rendering equation with even just one bounce of indirect lighting can take a long time. The majority of time spent rendering a frame is in estimating the lighting integral. For example, rendering a single bounce of indirect lighting at 720p resolution with 256 sample rays for a Monte Carlo estimator requires about 237 million rays to be cast. This doesn’t even include the rays needed for sampling the lights for direct lighting, so in practice, the total will be even higher. One interesting observation made by Greg Ward…

## Better Sampling

A couple of days ago, I compared the images my ambient occlusion integrator produced with those of Modo using similar settings. I noticed immediately how much ‘cleaner’ the render from Modo was. Clearly there was an issue with the way I was picking my samples, so I set about improving things. My approach for generating the ambient occlusion rays was to generate uniform random samples over the hemisphere about the normal. Based on two random numbers in the range [0,1), I calculate the normalized sample direction using the following function:…

## The Holidays: Time for fun work!

For the first time in about three years, I’ve had two weeks off work. I’ve spent a lot of time just relaxing and taking a break from things, but I’ve also been able to get back to doing some graphics work. Ever since Vivendi bought Activision, the project that I was leading has been “put on hold”, so I’ve been back on the game team. It’s not as fun for me, that’s for sure, but luckily, I have my code at home to play with, so all is not lost!…