One nice property of mesh-based shapes like triangle meshes and
subdivision surfaces is that the shape’s vertices can be transformed into
rendering space, so that it is not necessary to transform rays into object space
before performing ray intersection tests. Interestingly enough, it is
possible to do the same thing for ray–quadric intersections.
The implicit forms of the quadrics in this chapter were all of the form
- ② Transforming the object-space bounding box of a quadric to rendering space does not necessarily give an optimal bounding box. However, the matrix form of a quadric described in Exercise 6.1 can also be applied to computing optimal bounds. Read the article by Barnes (2014) on this topic and implement the approach he described in pbrt. How much are bounding boxes improved with this approach? Measure the effect of your changes on rendering performance for a scene with many transformed quadrics.
- ① Improve the object-space bounding box routines for the quadrics to properly account for , and compute tighter bounding boxes when possible. How much does this improve performance when rendering scenes with partial quadric shapes?
- ② There is room to optimize the implementations of the various quadric primitives in pbrt in a number of ways. For example, for complete spheres some of the tests in the intersection routine related to partial spheres are unnecessary. Furthermore, some of the quadrics have calls to trigonometric functions that could be turned into simpler expressions using insight about the geometry of the particular primitives. Investigate ways to speed up these methods. How much does doing so improve the overall run time of pbrt when rendering scenes with quadrics?
- ① Fix the buggy Sphere::Sample() and Disk::Sample() methods, which currently do not properly account for partial spheres and disks when they sample points on the surface. Create a scene that demonstrates the error from the current implementations and for which your solution is clearly an improvement.
- ② It is possible to derive a sampling method for cylinder area light sources that only chooses points over the visible area as seen from the receiving point, similar to the improved sphere sampling method in this chapter (Gardner et al. 1987; Zimmerman 1995). Write a new implementation of Cylinder::Sample() that implements such an algorithm. Verify that pbrt still generates correct images with your method, and measure how much the improved version reduces variance for a fixed number of samples taken. How much does it improve efficiency? How do you explain any discrepancy between the amount of reduction in variance and the amount of improvement in efficiency?
- ② Implement one of the approaches for sampling the spheres according to the projected solid angle in their visible region (Ureña and Georgiev 2018; Peters and Dachsbacher 2019). Measure the change in pbrt’s execution time when the alternative algorithm is used and discuss your results. Then, measure the MSE of pbrt’s current approach as well as your approach for a few scenes with spherical light sources, using an image rendered with thousands of samples per pixel as a reference. How do the results differ if the light is always unoccluded versus if it is sometimes partially occluded? How does the BSDF of scene surfaces affect the results?
- ① Currently pbrt recomputes the partial derivatives and for triangles every time they are needed, even though they are constant for each triangle. Precompute these vectors and analyze the speed/storage trade-off, especially for large triangle meshes. How do the depth complexity of the scene and the size of triangles in the image affect this trade-off?
- ② Implement a general polygon primitive that supports an arbitrary number of vertices and convex or concave polygons as a new Shape in pbrt. You can assume that a valid polygon has been provided and that all the vertices of the polygon lie on the same plane, although you might want to issue a warning when this is not the case. An efficient technique for computing ray–polygon intersections is to find the plane equation for the polygon from its normal and a point on the plane. Then compute the intersection of the ray with that plane and project the intersection point and the polygon vertices to 2D. You can then apply a 2D point-in-polygon test to determine if the point is inside the polygon. An easy way to do this is to effectively do a 2D ray-tracing computation: intersect the ray with each of the edge segments, and count how many it goes through. If it goes through an odd number of them, the point is inside the polygon and there is an intersection. See Figure 6.47 for an illustration of this idea. You may find it helpful to read the article by Haines (1994) that surveys a number of approaches for efficient point-in-polygon tests. Some of the techniques described there may be helpful for optimizing this test. Furthermore, Section 13.3.3 of Schneider and Eberly (2003) discusses strategies for getting all the corner cases right: for example, when the 2D ray is aligned precisely with an edge or passes through a vertex of the polygon.
- ② Constructive solid geometry (CSG) is a solid modeling technique where complex shapes are built up by considering the union, intersection, and differences of more primitive shapes. For example, a sphere could be used to create pits in a cylinder if a shape was modeled as the difference of a cylinder and set of spheres that partially overlapped it. See Hoffmann (1989) for further information about CSG. Add support for CSG to pbrt and render images that demonstrate interesting shapes that can be rendered using CSG. You may want to read Roth (1982), which first described how ray tracing could be used to render models described by CSG, as well as Amanatides and Mitchell (1990), which discusses accuracy-related issues for CSG ray tracing.
- ② Procedurally described parametric surfaces: Write a Shape that takes a general mathematical expression of the form that describes a parametric surface as a function of . Evaluate the given function at a grid of positions, and create a bilinear patch mesh that approximates the given surface. Render images of interesting shapes using your new Shape.
- ② Adaptive curve refinement: Adjust the number of levels of recursive refinement used for intersection with Curve shapes based on the on-screen area that they cover. One approach is to take advantage of the RayDifferential class, which represents the image space area that a given ray represents. (However, currently, only Rays—not RayDifferentials—are passed to the Shape::Intersect() method implementation, so you would need to modify other parts of the system to make ray differentials available.) Alternatively, you could modify the Camera to provide information about the projected length of vectors between points in rendering space on the image plane and make the camera available during Curve intersection. Render images that show the benefit of adaptive refinement when the camera is close to curves. Measure performance, varying the camera-to-curves distance. Does performance improve when the camera is far away? How does it change when the camera is close?
- ② Implement one of the more efficient ray–curve intersection algorithms described by Reshetov (2017) or by Reshetov and Luebke (2018). Measure the performance of pbrt’s current Curve implementation as well as your new one and discuss the results. Do rendered images match with both approaches? Can you find differences in the intersections returned that lead to changes in images, especially when the camera is close to a curve? Explain your findings.
- ③ Ray-tracing point-sampled geometry: Extending methods for rendering complex models represented as a collection of point samples (Levoy and Whitted 1985; Pfister et al. 2000; Rusinkiewicz and Levoy 2000), Schaufler and Jensen (2000) have described a method for intersecting rays with collections of oriented point samples in space. Their algorithm probabilistically determined that an intersection has occurred when a ray approaches a sufficient local density of point samples and computes a surface normal with a weighted average of the nearby samples. Read their paper and extend pbrt to support a point-sampled geometry shape. Do any of pbrt’s basic interfaces need to be extended or generalized to support a shape like this?
- ③ Deformation motion blur: The TransformedPrimitive in Section 7.1.2 of Chapter 7 supports animated shapes via transformations of primitives that vary over time. However, this type of animation is not general enough to represent a triangle mesh where each vertex has a position given at the start time and another one at the end time. (For example, this type of animation description can be used to describe a running character model where different parts of the body are moving in different ways.) Implement a more general Triangle or BilinearPatch shape that supports specifying vertex positions at the start and end of frame and interpolates between them based on the ray time passed to the intersection methods. Be sure to update the bounding routines appropriately. Meshes with very large amounts of motion may exhibit poor performance due to individual triangles or patches sweeping out large bounding boxes and thus many intersection tests being performed that do not hit the shape. Can you come up with approaches that could be used to reduce the impact of this problem?
- ③ Implicit functions: Just as implicit definitions of the quadric shapes are a useful starting point for deriving ray-intersection algorithms, more complex implicit functions can also be used to define interesting shapes. In particular, difficult-to-model organic shapes, water drops, and so on can be well represented by implicit surfaces. Blinn (1982a) introduced the idea of directly rendering implicit surfaces, and Wyvill and Wyvill (1989) gave a basis function for implicit surfaces with a number of advantages compared to Blinn’s. Implement a method for finding ray intersections with implicit surfaces and add it to pbrt. You may wish to read papers by Kalra and Barr (1989), Hart (1996), and Sabbadin and Droske (2021) for methods for ray tracing them. Mitchell’s algorithm for robust ray intersections with implicit surfaces using interval arithmetic gives another effective method for finding these intersections (Mitchell 1990), and more recently Knoll et al. (2009) described refinements to this idea. You may find an approach along these lines easier to implement than the others. See Moore’s book on interval arithmetic as needed for reference (Moore 1966).
- ③ L-systems: A very successful technique for procedurally modeling plants was introduced to graphics by Alvy Ray Smith (1984), who applied Lindenmayer systems (L-systems) to model branching plant structures. Prusinkiewicz and collaborators have generalized this approach to encompass a much wider variety of types of plants and effects that determine their appearance (Prusinkiewicz 1986; Prusinkiewicz et al. 1994; Deussen et al. 1998; Prusinkiewicz et al. 2001). L-systems describe the branching structure of these types of shapes via a grammar. The grammar can be evaluated to form expressions that describe a topological representation of a plant, which can then be translated into a geometric representation. Add an L-system primitive to pbrt that takes a grammar as input and evaluates it to create the shape it describes.
- ① Given an arbitrary point , what bound on the error from applying a scale transformation of is given by Equation (6.30)? How much error is actually introduced?
- ② The quadric shapes all use the Interval class for their intersection tests in order to be able to bound the error in the computed value so that intersections behind the ray origin are not incorrectly reported as intersections. First, measure the performance difference when using regular Floats for one or more quadrics when rendering a scene that includes those shapes. Next, manually derive conservative error bounds for values computed by those shapes as was done for triangles in Section 6.8.7. Implement your method. You may find it useful to use the Interval class to empirically test your derivation’s correctness. Measure the performance difference with your implementation.
- ② One detail thwarts the watertightness of the current Triangle shape implementation: the translation and shearing of triangle vertices introduces round-off error, which must be accounted for in the extent of triangles’ bounding boxes; see Section 3.3 of Woop et al. (2013) for discussion (and a solution). Modify pbrt to incorporate a solution to this shortcoming. Can you find scenes where small image errors are eliminated thanks to your fix?