Global illumination

Recall that the ambient shading term (7.5) was introduced to prevent surfaces in the shadows of the light source from appearing black. The computationally intensive but proper way to fix this problem is to calculate how light reflects from object to object in the virtual world. In this way, objects are illuminated indirectly from the light that reflects from others, as in the real world. Unfortunately, this effectively turns all object surfaces into potential sources of light. This means that ray tracing must account for multiple reflections. This requires considering piecewise linear paths from the light source to the viewpoint, in which each bend corresponds to a reflection. An upper limit is usually set on the number of bounces to consider. The simple Lambertian and Blinn-Phong models are often used, but more general BDRFs are also common. Increasing levels of realism can be calculated, but with corresponding increases in computation time.

Steven M LaValle 2020-01-06