Computer Graphics

University of California - Berkeley

Frequency Analysis and Sheared Filtering for Shadow Light Fields of Complex Occluders


Monte Carlo ray tracing of soft shadows produced by area lighting and intricate geometries, such as the shadows through plant leaves or arrays of blockers, is a critical challenge. The final image often has relatively smooth shadow patterns, since it integrates over the light source. However, Monte Carlo rendering exhibits considerable noise even at high sample counts because of the large variance of the integrand due to the intricate shadow function. This article develops an efficient diffuse soft shadow technique for mid to far occluders that relies on a new 4D cache and sheared reconstruction filter. For this, we first derive a frequency analysis of shadows for planar area lights and complex occluders. Our analysis subsumes convolution soft shadows for parallel planes as a special case. It allows us to derive 4D sheared filters that enable lower sampling rates for soft shadows. While previous sheared-reconstruction techniques were able primarily to index samples according to screen position, we need to perform reconstruction at surface receiver points that integrate over vastly different shapes in the reconstruction domain. This is why we develop a new light-field-like 4D data structure to store shadowing values and depth information. Any ray tracing system that shoots shadow rays can easily incorporate our method to greatly reduce sampling rates for diffuse soft shadows.


Kevin Egan, Florian Hecht, Frédo Durand, and Ravi Ramamoorthi. "Frequency Analysis and Sheared Filtering for Shadow Light Fields of Complex Occluders". ACM Transactions on Graphics, 30(2):1–13, April 2011.

Supplemental Material

Supplemental Images

High resolution images generated with our method and ground truth.

Supplemental Video

A video showing the temporal coherence of our method and comparing it to brute force monte carlo sampling.