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New Techniques Developed for Rendering Granular Materials

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:20AM

Some things are harder to for computers to render than others, because of the physics involved with making the resulting image realistic. Granular materials are an example of this because the light can be affected by each grain it hits, which adds up when there are millions of grains. To accelerate the process, researchers at Karlsruher Institut für Technologie have developed a new process that chooses the right technique based on scale involved.

For smaller scales, when only a few grains are involved, the classical approach of using path tracing for the light can be used. At larger scales this method would require hundreds to thousands of processor hours. Instead, the process changes to use volumetric path tracing, like that used to render clouds or fog. It turns out these methods can accurately represent light passing through granular materials, and can be quite efficient at doing so. Diffusion approximation can also be applied for when the grains are bright and strongly reflective, like with snow.

Compared to current methods, this new approach can be ten to several hundreds of times faster, depending on the material, without compromising image quality.

Source: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

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