Ray Tracing in Architecture
"Architecture is the masterly, correct, and magnificent
play of masses brought together in light."
-Le Corbusier (Architect and Urbanist 1927)
When presenting design proposals
to clients, it is very important that architects have realistic renderings
accompaning their designs. In the past, architects relied on hand-done
drawings created with ink and watercolors. Unfortunately, it is extremely
difficult to produce realistic illumination effects using the traditional
rendering methods. Even many computer aided design (CAD) programs
which accuratley model objects are unable to model light.
Some modeling programs even allow architects to introduce light into a picture, specifying the light's location, orientation, color, and distibution. These features help designers to create effects such as shadows and specular highlights, however, they still fail to model the physical reality that objects interact with light. In order to accurately model the true behavior of light in a given environment, we must consider all of the light in that environment, and acknowledge that real light is reflected, refracted, diffused, and absorbed.
Architects are primarily interested in creating visually realistic images. Backwards ray tracing, combined with radiosity techniques, is often the most useful method for architectural rendering. Because modeling light is so essential to the field, the development of programs that incorporate ray tracing has been a dream come true for many architects. Global illumination technology is succeeding in bringing architectural design to life.
Examples of Traditional Architectural
Examples of Ray Traced Architectural
Ray Tracing in Theater and Television
Because ray tracing allows visually realistic modeling of light, the technology can be usefully applied in the areas of theater and television lighting. Without the abilty to model physically correct images, stage lighting setups can take extreme amounts of effort. Many stage and television productions require hundreds of individual lights that must be positioned, aimed, and filtered. It is also necessary for lights to be switched, redirected, and dimmed while a production is actually in progress. Ray tracing allows set and lighting designers, actors, and directors to develop and visualize complex lighting setups months before a production ever opens.
Ray Tracing as a Tool for Engineers
Ray tracing is capable of considering all of the
light in a given environment (termed global illumination). Global
illumination is a physically correct model, which accurately simulates
light's behavior in a real physical environment. This proves to be
extremely useful to lighting designers, solar energy researchers, and mechanical
engineers. They can use ray tracing to do much more than render
photorealistic pictures. Engineers use the technology to predict
illumination levels, luminance gradients, and visual performance criteria.
Global illumination is a valuable engineering tool in that it allows us
to quantitatively analyze the distribution and directionality of light
and research radiant heat transfer. This is helping us to progress
in everything from lighting and heating rooms more effeciently, to
creating solar energy concentrators for aerospace applications.
Ray Tracing in Animation
Questions surrounding animation have interested computer
scientists for several decades. Advancements in computer graphics
including developments in ray tracing have opened up world of possibility
in the field. Traditionally, individual frames of animated works
were drawn by hand. Movement was simulated through a complex
series frame adjustment steps. There is still a strong sense of nostalgia
for traditional methods of animation, however, computer graphics are playing
a stronger and stronger role in the process.
Computer animation is executed on model worlds before they are rendered by a ray tracer. This technique can be highly optimized.
Ray tracing can be used to add "fancy" effects such as reflection and shadowing that are often difficult and time consuming for traditional artists to produce. Graphical technology is also capable of rendering photorealistic images that would be nearlt impossible to produce without computerized ray tracing.
Examples of computer graphics and ray tracing in modern animation include advanced reflection, shadowing, and specularity.
Beauty and the Beast