Commit 3c51ca9c authored by Sadman Kazi's avatar Sadman Kazi

Add raytracer project blog

parent 6a4c0596
title: "Raytracer Project"
date: 2019-04-03T13:28:55-04:00
draft: false
Serene is a path tracer I made for my CS 488 (Introduction to Graphics) class'
final project. The goal of this project was to get as close to photorealism as
possible in a reasonable amount of time, and I am really happy with the results.
This all took about a full two weeks worth of work, and I honestly had a lot of
fun working on this.
Below is a showcase of various features of Serene.
## Core Features
### Global Illumination
Global illumination was implemented by using path tracing. This was achieved by
using Monte Carlo integration of the rendering equation, with variable sampling.
![Cornell room globally illumiated](res/cornell_diff.png)
*Figure 1: Globally illuminated cornell room with two spheres*
### Reflections
Reflections were implemented by recursively issueing rays from the point of intersection
of the previous ray, where the reflection angle is defined by the normal and incident ray.
![Cornell room with two diffuse balls](res/cornell_diff.png) ![Cornell room with one diff and one reflective](res/cornell_refl.png)
*Figure 2: (Left) Two non-reflective diffuse spheres. (Right) One diffuse and one reflective sphere*
### Refractions
Refractive materials bend light according to their index of refraction. Snell's
Law is used to find the change in angle as a ray crosses the boundary of materials
with different indices of refraction (IOR).
When the solution to this equation does not exist, there is total internal reflection,
and the material acts like a reflective one. Additionally, refractive materials
start acting more like reflective materials as incident angles grow closer to
becoming tangent with the surface. The Fresnel equation defines how much of the
light is refracted and how much of it is reflected, but it is quite expensive to
implement. Schlick's approximation to the Fresnel equation however gives very good
results, which is what I implemented in Serene.
![Cornell room with two diffuse balls](res/cornell_diff.png) ![Cornell room with one diff and one refractive](res/cornell_refr.png)
*Figure 3: (Left) Two non-refractive diffuse spheres. (Right) One diffuse and one refractive sphere*
![Old serene](res/serene_old.png)
*Figure 4: Another example, refraction infront of textured objects*
### Texture mapping
Texture mapping was implemented by using texture cordinates (u, v) of primitives,
generated from parametric points, and meshes (include with the wavefront obj files),
and using the u,v values to extract the diffuse color from a specified image file.
![Showcase](res/showcase.png) ![Earth](res/showcase_texture.png)
*Figure 5: (Left) A simple sphere in a simple room. (Right) Exact same scene, but with texture mapping*
### Depth of Field
I implemented a "blur" effect to emulate depth of field by introducing an aperture radius
amount to the render settings to mimic a realistic camera with a lens rather than a pinhole
camera. Instead of using the same `eye` point of the camera, rays are generated
stochastically around a circle with the radius equal to the aperture radius. When using
larger radiuses, objects closer to the focal plane (defined by the render setting
focal distance) are sharper, while objects outside the radius are sampled less,
resulting in a depth of field effect.
![](res/nodof.png) ![](res/dof.png)
*Figure 6: (Left) No depth of field. (Right) Depth of field with aperture radius 1.8. Both rendered with 500 samples*
### Normal mapping
Normal mapping was implemented by using tangents and bitangents of primitives and
meshes, and using those and u,v at specific points to modify the normals according
to a specified normal map.
*Figure 7: A sphere with snowball-like normal map.*
### Animation
Animation was implemented by adding a lua interface to add transforms (translations
and rotations) at key frames, and linearly interpolating the transforms between
the keyframes. Will show an example at the end (no spoilers!)
### Soft shadows
I implemented area light sources to represent physically accurate lighting, where
many points are sampled towards the area of a light source to find shadow rays and
the contribution is averaged out, resulting in soft shadows.
![Cornell room with two diffuse balls](res/cornell_diff.png) ![Cornell room with one reflective and one refractive](res/cornell_refl_refr.png)
*Figure 8: (Left) Soft shadows for diffuse objects. (Right) Soft shadows and caustics for reflective and refractive objects.*
### Stochastic (box-tent filter) Antialiasing
Since my final scene uses textures over large objects, it made little sense to implement
adaptive antialiasing in the renderer as was stated in my original proposal. Instead,
I used a sampled tent filter algorithm, to better approximate the sinc noise filter
(which is ideal for removing noise), to get better antialiasing performance without
having to use too many subpixel samples as with a simple box filter.
![Comparison of fitler graphs](res/filter.png)
*Figure 9: Comparison between sinc filter (blue), tent (triangle filter (red), and box-tent filter used in Serene (green).*
*Image credits: Nathan Reed. (*
These are the results:
![](res/cornell_box_40s_noaa.png) ![](res/cornell_box_10s.png)
*Figure 10: (Left) No antialiasing, 40 samples. (Right) Antialiasing 2x2, 10(x4) samples. Both took the exact same time to render.*
### Final Scene
The final scene is a snow globe and a toy deer on an old wooden table. I really
wanted to catch a serene vibe with this scene, and although I wish I had more
time to find more photorealistic models to use in the scene, I think the lighting
makes up for a lot of it, and I'm quite happy with how the countless hours I spent
on the project came together. The glass part of the globe uses a very low IOR, of
1.1, in order to make sure the inside of the globe can be seen. There are 200 snow
particles in the form of a sphere, interacting with the scene the same way as
every other object.
*Figure 11: The final scene, rendered with 500 samples, 512x512.*
Bonus animated version of this scene!
![Serene animated](res/serene.gif)
*Figure 12: Main scene animated, rendered with 100 samples, 256x256, 24 fps*
## Miscellaneous features
These are some features to improve my QoL while working on the project.
### Multithreading
One of the great things about raytracing is how so many code pathways are independent,
which means that it is open to benefit a lot from multithreading. It was a very
simple implementation, where the pixel space was segmented based on columns.
*Figure 13: Performance comparison based on (log2) number of threads, ran on a 4-core hyperthreaded intel CPU.*
### Cosine Hemisphere sampling
Instead of randomly sampling hemisphere points during ray casting, I used a stratified
sampling technique to segment the hemisphere into equal area points and sampled
based on that. This resulted in more evenly distributed points being sampled, and
much less noise overall. (Sorry don't have a comparison image for this, but
[here]( is someone else's
before and after.
### Progress bar
I got pretty frustated not knowing how long far along my renders were, so I made
a very simple progress bar that reports on the proportion of pixels that have been
*Figure 14: Progress bar.*
## Conclusion
Although it was a lot of work, I had a lot of fun working on the project and, most
importantly, learned a **lot**. As someone who didn't know anything about what
path tracing was even just a month ago, I am quite happy with the results that
I have achieved. However, there were a lot of improvements I had on my backlog,
that I couldn't get to. Most of those were performance improvements I wish I could
have implemented, e.g. segmentation based on samples instead of pixels, progressive
rendering, kd-trees for mesh intersection, image preview, etc.
Lastly, I am grateful for all the references I found on the internet, which are
all included in my report. Links to both the project source code and the complete
report coming soon, inshAllah.
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