Intel has developed a new software technology called Light Field Mapping (LFM) that helps to create more life-like 3-D images for interactive applications, such as games, by correctly modelling the reflective properties of 3-D objects.
Three-dimensional graphics can be used to produce synthetic images that often cannot be distinguished from reality – such as those in movie special effects. However, producing graphics with this level of realism takes a long time to compute, making it difficult to deliver top quality in interactive uses, such as video games.
LFM is a method for efficient representation and interactive visualisation of surface light fields. This method approximates the radiance data by partitioning it over elementary surface primitives and decomposing each part into a small set of lower-dimensional discrete functions.
The resulting light field representation is compact and can be directly used for hardware-accelerated rendering that accurately conveys the physical realism of the original data at interactive frame rates on a personal computer.
Additionally, the representation can be further compressed using standard image compression techniques leading to extremely compact data sets that are up to four orders of magnitude smaller than the uncompressed light field data.
‘The big challenge for the 3-D graphics industry today is how to bring the realism we know we are capable of delivering into interactive 3-D graphics,’ said Radek Grzeszczuk, senior research scientist with Intel’s Microprocessor Research Labs.
‘The combination of a fast and simple rendering routine, small data sets and ease of content creation features in LFM will help bring more realism to computer graphics without sacrificing interactivity.’
Intel believes that LFM also has a great potential for improving the 3-D scanning industry because it can correctly reproduce the appearance of physical objects, even those with very complex surface reflectance properties. Intel Labs researchers are working on developing a complete solution for acquisition, delivery and visualisation of 3-D models that are highly realistic and acquired completely automatically, with minimal human intervention.
Over the next few months, Intel will be talking to game developers about the use of Light Field Mapping technology in future 3-D game engines. Intel will also be talking to 3D scanner developers in the same timeframe.