Global lighting effects produced by diffuse interreflections are typically simulated using global illumination methods such as radiosity or ray tracing. Although diffuse interreflections are crucial to produce realistic images, radiosity like methods are rarely used in production rendering because of slow performance, robustness problems, and control difficulty. This article presents a novel technology that produces natural looking lighting effects in a faster way than radiosity and ray tracing. The solution is view independent, and can be used in 3D real-time interactive applications, as well as for high-quality production rendering. Our method simulates a global illumination solution using the ambient light illumination model based on obscurances. The technology outlines surface profiles even without light sources, making it easy to rapidly compute realistic looking images. The simulation of ambient light distribution saves both light sources setting and rendering times. The results of computations are stored in texture maps, which allows storing multiple light samples per polygon without explicit meshing. This is vital in 3D real-time applications, and speeds up rendering in 3D animation packages as well. Once computed, obscurance maps allow for rapid recomputation of the illumination solution for moving light sources and for scenes with animated objects.
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