All Basic Game Tech

RayTracing – Implementing the Raytracing Algorithm


We have covered everything there is to say! We are now prepared to write our first ray-tracer. You should now be able to guess how the ray-tracing algorithm works.【我们开始来实现算法】


First of all, take a moment to notice that the propagation of light in nature is just a countless number of rays emitted from light sources that bounce around until they hit the surface of our eye. Ray-tracing is, therefore, elegant in the way that it is based directly on what actually happens around us. Apart from the fact that it follows the path of light in the reverse order, it is nothing less that a perfect nature simulator.【光线在自然界的传播只是从光源发射的无数光线,它们会反射到我们的眼睛表面。



The ray-tracing algorithm takes an image made of pixels. For each pixel in the image, it shoots a primary ray into the scene. The direction of that primary ray is obtained by tracing a line from the eye to the center of that pixel. Once we have that primary ray’s direction set, we check every object of the scene to see if it intersects with any of them. In some cases, the primary ray will intersect more than one object. When that happens, we select the object whose intersection point is the closest to the eye. We then shoot a shadow ray from the intersection point to the light (Figure 6, top). If this particular ray does not intersect an object on its way to the light, the hit point is illuminated. If it does intersect with another object, that object casts a shadow on it (figure 2).ray-tracing基于图片的pixel,对于每一个pixel,我们从眼睛所在位置向pixel位置发出射线,然后我们检查场景每一个物体与光线的相交关系。很多情况下会与多个物体相交,这时候我们处理离眼睛最近的那个对象。发射shadow light,如果这光线只与这对象相交,则是亮的,否则是其他物体投下的阴影区域】



If we repeat this operation for every pixel, we obtain a two-dimensional representation of our three-dimensional scene (figure 3).【遍历pixel获得图像结果】



Here is an implementation of the algorithm in pseudocode:【伪代码】



The beauty of ray-tracing, as one can see, is that it takes just a few lines to code; one could certainly write a basic ray-tracer in 200 lines. Unlike other algorithms, such as a scanline renderer, ray-tracing takes very little effort to implement.ray-trace的美妙在于,一个基本的实现就200行左右,如上图所示】


This technique was first described by Arthur Appel in 1969 by a paper entitled “Some Techniques for Shading Machine Renderings of Solids”. So, if this algorithm is so wonderful why didn’t it replace all the other rendering algorithms? The main reason, at the time (and even today to some extent), was speed. As Appel mentions in his paper:【这技术在1969年首次提出,但是在实际使用中没有推广的原因在于渲染时间还是很长】


“This method is very time consuming, usually requiring for useful results several thousands times as much calculation time as a wire frame drawing. About one half of of this time is devoted to determining the point to point correspondence of the projection and the scene.”


In other words, it is slow (but as Kajiya – one of the most influential researchers of all computer graphics history -once said: “ray tracing is not slow – computers are”). It is extremely time consuming to find the intersection between rays and geometry. For decades, the algorithm’s speed has been the main drawback of ray-tracing. However, as computers become faster, it is less and less of an issue. Although one thing must still be said: comparatively to other techniques, like the z-buffer algorithm, ray-tracing is still much slower. However, today, with fast computers, we can compute a frame that used to take one hour in a few minutes or less. In fact, real-time and interactive ray-tracers are a hot topic.【换句话说就是慢,射线求交慢,但是在硬件越来越好的情况下,这越来越不是问题。但是相对于光栅化来讲,还是非常慢,但是实时的光线追踪已经是很热门的研究课题。】


To summarize, it is important to remember (again) that the rendering routine can be looked at as two separate processes. One step determines if a point is visible at a particular pixel (the visibility part), the second shades that point (the shading part). Unfortunately, both of the two steps require expensive and time consuming ray-geometry intersection tests. The algorithm is elegant and powerful but forces us to trade rendering time for accuracy and vise versa. Since Appel published his paper a lot of research has been done to accelerate the ray-object intersection routines. By combining these acceleration schemes with the new technology in computers, it has become easier to use ray-tracing to the point where it has been used in nearly every production rendering software.【总结一下光线追踪渲染可以分为两步,首先决定这个对象对于这个像素是否可见,然后对于这个点调色。不过这两步都需要射线求交计算,都非常耗时。】