Issue No. 09 - September (1986 vol. 6)
Eric Haines , Cornell University
Donald Greenberg , Cornell University
In one area of computer graphics, realistic image synthesis, the ultimate goal is to produce a picture indistinguishable from a photograph of a real environment. A particularly powerful technique for simulating light reflection-an important element in creating this realism-is called ray tracing. This method produces images of excellent quality, but suffers from lengthy computation time that limits its practical use. This article presents a new method to reduce shadow testing time during ray tracing. The technique involves generating light buffers, each of which partition the environment with respect to an individual light source. These partition descriptions are then used during shadow testing to quickly determine a small subset of objects that may have to be tested for intersection. The results of timing tests illustrate the beneficial performance of these techniques. The tests compare the standard ray-tracing algorithm to light buffers of varying resolution.
E. Haines and D. Greenberg, "The Light Buffer: A Shadow-Testing Accelerator," in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 6, no. , pp. 6-16, 1986.