Global Illumination using Photon Ray Splatting

Robert Herzog Vlastimil Havran Shinichi Kinuwaki Karol Myszkowski Hans-Peter Seidel
Computer Graphics Forum (Proceedings of Eurographics 2007) 26(3):503-513, 2007
We present a novel framework for efficiently computing the indirect illumination in diffuse and moderately glossy scenes using density estimation techniques. Many existing global illumination approaches either quickly compute an overly approximate solution or perform an orders of magnitude slower computation to obtain high-quality results for the indirect illumination. The proposed method improves photon density estimation and leads to significantly better visual quality in particular for complex geometry, while only slightly increasing the computation time. We perform direct splatting of photon rays, which allows us to use simpler search data structures. Since our density estimation is carried out in ray space rather than on surfaces, as in the commonly used photon mapping algorithm, the results are more robust against geometrically incurred sources of bias. This holds also in combination with final gathering where photon mapping often overestimates the illumination near concave geometric features. In addition, we show that our photon splatting technique can be extended to handle moderately glossy surfaces and can be combined with traditional irradiance caching for sparse sampling and filtering in image space.