SIGGRAPH 2017 – Past, Present and Future Challenges of Global Illumination in Games

Just got back from Los Angeles, where I presented in the Open Problems in Real-Time Rendering Course at this year’s SIGGRAPH:

Global illumination (GI) has been an ongoing quest in games. The perpetual tug-of-war between visual quality and performance often forces developers to take the latest and greatest from academia and tailor it to push the boundaries of what has been realized in a game product. Many elements need to align for success, including image quality, performance, scalability, interactivity, ease of use, as well as game-specific and production challenges.

First we will paint a picture of the current state of global illumination in games, addressing how the state of the union compares to the latest and greatest research. We will then explore various GI challenges that game teams face from the art, engineering, pipelines and production perspective. The games industry lacks an ideal solution, so the goal here is to raise awareness by being transparent about the real problems in the field. Finally, we will talk about the future. This will be a call to arms, with the objective of uniting game developers and researchers on the same quest to evolve global illumination in games from being mostly static, or sometimes perceptually real-time, to fully real-time.

You can also download my slides with notes here.

Super grateful to have been part of this initiative. Lots of great content was presented. Thanks to everyone who came to the course!

Channeling Your Inner Light

An attempt at more blogging, but this happened in the meantime, which is why you might find some of tweets below to be from a few months ago. 😉

A topic of discussion that comes up every now and then between programmers, technical artists and lighting artists is the concept of light masking, or Lighting Channels, and whether this concept is still valid. I’ve had this discussion many times before with developers out there (and somehow I’m sure you have too). Artists and programmers alike, opinions diverge. To get a new sample on the matter I decided to ask the twitter-verse:

Light Channels – Yay or Ney (Twitter Poll) Continue reading “Channeling Your Inner Light”

Finding Next-Gen – Part I – The Need For Robust (and Fast) Global Illumination in Games

Figure 1: Direct and Indirect Illumination from a single directional light source. [1]

This post is part of the series “Finding Next-Gen“. Original version on 2015/11/08. Liveblogging, because opinions evolve over time.

Global Illumination?

Global illumination (GI) is a family of algorithms used in computer graphics that simulate how light interacts and transfers between objects in a scene. With its roots in the Light Transport Theory (the mathematics behind energy, how it transfers between various media, and leads to visibility), GI takes into account both the light that comes directly from a light source (direct lighting/illumination), as well as how this light is reflected by and onto other surfaces (indirect lighting/illumination).

As seen in Figure 1, global illumination greatly increases the visual quality of a scene by providing a rich, organic and physically convincing simulation of light. Rather than solely depending on a manual (human) process to achieve the desired look, the mathematics behind GI allow lighting artists to create visually convincing scenes without having to worry about how they can manually replicate the complexity behind effects such as light scattering, color bleeding, or other visuals that are difficult to represent artistically using only direct illumination.

Continue reading “Finding Next-Gen – Part I – The Need For Robust (and Fast) Global Illumination in Games”