Program The rantings of a lunatic Scientist

Posts tagged as Ray Tracing

More Bi-Directional Path Tracing

C/C++ GPGPU Graphics Java L2Program PhD

It’s still not perfect, far from it in fact, but it’s progress none the less. I’ve been reading a lot lately about Metropolis Light Transport, Manifold Exploration, Multiple Importance Sampling (they do love their M names) and it’s high time I started implementing some of them myself.

So it’s with great sadness that I am retiring my PRT project which began over a year ago, all the way back at the start of my dissertation. PRT is written in Java, for simplicity, and was designed in such a way that as I read new papers about more and more complex rendering techniques I could easily drop in a new class, add a call to the render loop, or even replace the main renderer all together with an alternative algorithm which still called upon the original framework.

I added many features over time from Ray Tracing, Photon Mapping, Phong and Blinn-Phong shading, DOF, Refraction, Glossy Surfaces, Texture Mapping, Spacial Trees, Meshes, Ambient-Occlusion, Area Lighting, Anti-Aliasing, Jitter Sampling, Adaptive Super-Sampling, Parallelization via both multi-threading and using the gpu with OpenCL, Path Tracing, all the way up top Bi-Directional Path Tracing.

But the time has taken it’s toll and too much has been added on top of what began as a very simple ray tracer. It’s time to start anew.

My plans for the new renderer is to build it entirely in C++ with the ability to easily add plugins over time like the original. Working in C++ gives a nice benefit that as time goes by I can choose to dedicate some parts of the code to the GPU via CUDA or OpenCL without too much overhead or hassle. For now though the plan is to rebuild the optimized maths library and get a generic framework for a render in place. Functioning renderers will then be built on top of the framework each implementing different feature sets and algorithms.

Dissertation is done!

C/C++ Dissertation GPGPU Graphics Java University

Rejoice! For after one hell of a long year finally the dissertation is done dusted and thankfully handed in!

This was the final result, a real-time path tracer written in C using OpenCL to compute frames and OpenGl to render them. Here is a simple cornell box style scene that was left to converge for a couple of minutes.

My project fair demo. My graders seemed to like it (I bagged 92% for the Viva!) and so did the PhD students and my coursemates… Not so much praise from the school kids, the phrase “Realistic? Looks nothing like Call of Duty” was used…. First time I’ve ever wanted to smack a child jokes but what can you do. The tech industry people didn’t seem to care for it either which was rather miserable because I had to stand there for 5 hours in a boiling hot room while no one wanted to know about my work.

But I can’t really complain about not getting any job offers because… I got offered a summer research position unconditional fully funded PhD Studentship at the uni! So this summer I’ll be staying in Swansea to effectively continue this project with the goal of getting Path Tracing working much much faster and on mobile devices (tablets most likely).

Here’s an album showing the progress from start to finish throughout the year.

Dissertation Update: Path Tracing in action

Dissertation Graphics Java University

Thought I’d post an update of my dissertation project seeing as I haven’t posted anything in a while and my interim document is now submitted. As part of my progress towards GPU Accelerated Path Tracing I’ve modified the Java Ray Tracer shown previously to render using the Path Tracing algorithm. It’s a bit slow and clunky but for the most part it gets the job done.

The only problem has been that Java just isn’t cut out for this type of work. I don’t want to flare up the whole “Java is not week, it’s not 1995 any more…” debate but path tracing is just too much work for Java to handle. Even when running with additional memory and with the work split across an 8 core i7 processor StackOverflow’s are all to common a sight, and when they occur they ruin the image being rendered.

Below are some comparison images showing Ray Tracing (left), Photon Mapped Ray Tracing (middle), and Path Tracing (right).

And finally, here are some images showing the results of an experiment I ran looking into the possibility of performing constant time filtering techniques to under-sampled images in order to make them an acceptable quality for moving scenes. With a lot of trial and error I found that a good technique was perform a relatively cheap 3×3 Box Blur filter to smooth out any of the large dark noise areas and then to apply a 3×3 or 5×5 Median Filter to help retain edge definition while still smoothing the remaining noise.

Experiments with Depth-Of-Field

Dissertation Graphics Java University

So this evening I thought I’d have a look’see at some of the more advanced ray tracing techniques that I didn’t have time to play with during my dissertation research. Namely, Depth-Of-Field and Specular/Glossy Reflections.

Essentially, Depth-Of-Field mimics the focus point of an eye or camera. Where there is a set focal distance where everything is crisp and in focus, and everything before and after the point becomes progressively more fuzzy as it gets further from that point. To perform DOF on a ray tracer we sample multiple rays for each of our original primary rays, each at a slight offset.

In the image below the dotted line represents the ‘true’ original ray path to the first intersection with a geometry. The solid line represents a sampled ray which has been offset from the origin by a random amount. Both rays pass through the same point in the focal plane which is exactly the focal distance away from both ray origins. Any objects at the focal plane will appear crisp and in focus while anything closer or further will appear out of focus. This can be visualized by the two rays (solid and dotted) intersections with the sphere. Each will return a different colour which when averaged will produce the blurred colour of the out of focus sphere.

Here is the effect of a 3×3 unit aperture using 25 random samples per ray. As you would expect the render took around 25 times longer to produce the final output, which is worrying because truth be told we really need 100+ samples (closer to 300-500) to produce smooth and clear results without noise.

Here the quality of the DOF simulation has been upped, however I had to turn off photon mapping to accommodate the increased workload. Here we are rendering with a 3×3 unit aperture but at 100 samples per pixel.

I think tomorrow I might look at some of the more efficient ways of computing DOF. There’s a rather neat method with relies on storing the depth that each pixel is in the image and using that to apply a weighted blurring function after the image has been rendered. Cheating I know but it will be a hell of a lot faster than multiplying the entire workload of the render by an incredibly large sample size.

Finally, this evening I had a ‘brief’ (3 and a half hours of reading, coding, swearing, reading, debugging, reading, swearing, crying, and coding) go at trying to implement Glossy Reflections (otherwise known as specular reflections). Well… As you can see in the image below it all works perfectly and it wasn’t a colossal waste of time and energy…. …. …. I’ll try again another time.

New Java Ray Tracer

Dissertation Graphics Java University

As part of the research for my dissertation on GPU Accelerated Path Tracing I thought it would be a good idea to have another crack at writing a Ray Tracer. Unlike my previous ray tracer which was slow, clunky, and produce sub-par results I think this time I’ve done a pretty good job.

The new ray tracer includes a bunch of advanced features such as Texture/Specular/Normal Mapping, Octrees, Photon Mapping, and Adaptive Super-Sampling.

The part of the ray tracer I am most pleased with has got to be Photon Mapping, which is the process of simulating natural and secondary lighting.

Before rendering begins photons are fired out of the light sources in the scene and are bounced around as they collide with objects. At each collision a photon is posed a choice, “Do you die? Or do you keep on living?”, if the photon dies it takes the colour of where it intersected and it is stored in the photon map; on the other hand if the photon decided to live it picks up a little bit of light from its current position and a reflection vector is calculated, it is then fired off in the new direction.

In the image below you can see the effect of Photon Mapping (left) and what the scene would have otherwise looked like without it (right).

An implementation of the K-Nearest Neighbor algorithm was used for searching the photon map for nearest photons to a given intersection location. The algorithm was optimized by storing intermediate photon maps for each object in the scene (triangular meshes were treated as single objects).

The effects of different K values on the K-Nearest Neighbour algorithm can be seen below. The K values used (in order) were: K = 1, K = 10, K = 50, K = 100, K = 500

Lambert shading gives diffuse colour for objects such that the further away they point from a light source the darker they appear.

Phong shading calculates the Specular Highlights that appear on glossy objects. The phong shading is added to the diffuse (lambert) shading to yeild the final colour.

Blinn-Phong shading is an optimization on phong shading which is faster to compute while offering similar results. Phong shading computes specular highlights using an expensive reflection vector calculation; Blinn-Phong shading improves on this by computing a half-way vector between the view direction and the light source to use for estimating the specularity of the surface.

Java Ray Tracer – Just a test

Graphics Java

A few months ago, inspired by our Graphics Course, I decided to write a Ray Tracer. I had written one once before, in C# of all things, the summer before starting university. But it was crude and took 3 minutes to render one sphere, incorrectly too… I knew I could do better. Here is the result of 3 days worth of playing around with Java between lectures.

I didn’t quite get triangles working at the time. It was an issue to do with Java’s implementation of floats not having enough precision. My next Ray Tracer will be in C++ so that shouldn’t be a problem. (I know… A bad programmer always blames his tools…)

Here are some other choice renders…