Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


Zoë Wood


Computing complex lighting simulations such as global illumination is a computationally intensive task. Various real time solutions exist to approximate aspects of global illumination such as shadows, however, few of these methods offer single pass rendering solutions for soft shadows (self and other) and inter-reflections. In contrast, Precomputed Radiance Transfer (PRT) is a real-time computer graphics technique which pre-calculates an object's response to potential incident light. At run time, the actual incident light can be used to quickly illuminate the surface, rendering effects such as soft self-shadows and inter-reflections. In this thesis, we show that by calculating PRT lighting coefficients densely over a surface as texture data, additional surface detail can be encoded by integrating other computer graphics techniques, such as normal mapping. By calculating transfer coefficients densely over the surface of a mesh as texture data, greater fidelity can be achieved in lighting coarse meshes than simple interpolation can achieve. Furthermore, the lighting on low polygon objects can be enhanced by drawing surface normal and occlusion data from highly tessellated, detailed meshes. By applying such data to a decimated, simplified mesh, a more detailed and visually pleasing reconstruction can be displayed for a lower cost. In addition, this thesis introduces Hierarchical PRT, which extends some surface effects, such as soft shadows, between objects. Previous approaches to PRT used a more complex neighborhood transfer scheme in order to extend these lighting effects. Hierarchical PRT attempts to capture scene information in a tree data structure which represents coarse lighting relationships between objects. Potential occlusions can be found at run time by utilizing the same spherical harmonic representation used to represent surface lighting to instead store light "filters" between scene tree nodes. Such "filters" can be combined over a set of nodes in the scene to obtain the net shadowing of an object with good performance.

We present both visually pleasing results on simplified meshes using normal mapping and textured PRT and initial results using Hierarchical PRT that captures low frequency lighting information for a small number of dynamic objects which shadow static scene objects with good results.