Jaroslav Křivánek

Global Illumination Across Industries

SIGGRAPH 2010 Course

Jaroslav Křivánek
Cornell University &
Charles University, Prague
Marcos Fajardo
Solid Angle SL
Per H. Christensen
Pixar Animation Studios
Eric Tabellion
Michael Bunnell
Fantasy Lab, Inc.
David Larsson
Autodesk Inc.
Anton Kaplanyan
Crytek GmbH

(hover mouse over name for presenter info)


Global-illumination (GI) computation has been the subject of intense research in computer graphics for many years, but it has only recently been extensively used in practical applications. Major industries, such as videogame and film production, architecture, and design, now use GI to produce CG imagery with increased realism. However, trade-offs differ in these applications, so each uses a significantly different GI computation technique.

This course provides an overview of GI computation in practical applications across and within industries. It focuses on juxtaposing the domain-specific decision processes that influence the choice of a particular solution. Each technique is presented in the context of the objectives and constraints set by the application. The course reviews the strong and weak points of each implementation and possibilities for further innovation.

Publication & Presentation

Jaroslav Křivánek, Marcos Fajardo, Per H. Christensen, Eric Tabellion, Michael Bunnell, David Larsson, Anton Kaplanyan. Global Illumination Across Industries. In In ACM SIGGRAPH 2010 Courses (SIGGRAPH '10) ... BibTeX entry.

Presented on: Thursday, 29 July 2010 | 2:00 PM - 5:15 PM | Room 502 A.

Syllabus & Course Notes

2:00pm ... Introduction to GI (Křivánek)
pdf notes | pdf slides | pptx slides & notes
2:15pm ... Ray Tracing Solution in Film Production Rendering (Fajardo)
pdf slides | ppt slides
2:40pm ... Point-based Global Illumination for Film Production (Christensen)
pdf notes | pdf slides
3:05pm ... Ray Tracing vs. Point-based GI for Animated Films (Tabellion)
pdf notes | pdf slides | ppt slides & notes
3:30pm ... break
3:45pm ... Adding Real-Time Point-based GI to a Video Game - Lessons Learned (Bunnell)
pdf notes | pdf slides
4:15pm ... Pre-computing Lighting in Games (Larsson)
pdf notes | pdf slides | ppt slides & notes
4:45pm ... Dynamic Global Illumination for Games: From Idea to Production (Kaplanyan)
pdf notes | pdf slides | pptx slides & notes
5:10pm ... Conclusions / Q & A (all)
pdf notes | pdf slides | pptx slides & notes

Course Overview

Jaroslav Křivánek: Introduction to Global Illumination

The course starts with an overview of the principles of physically-based lighting simulation and some fundamental techniques for GI computation.

Marcos Fajardo: Ray Tracing for Film Production Rendering

In the next talk, Marcos Fajardo presents his experience with using unbiased, physically-based GI methods in film production. Marcos is the lead developer of Arnold Renderer, an unbiased path tracer designed for animation and visual effects. For years Arnold was co-developed with Sony Pictures Imageworks, where it was used on a number of films.

Per Christensen: Point-based Global Illumination for Film Production

Point-based global illumination is the algorithm that played a crucial role in making GI a widely accepted tool for film rendering. Per Christensen, the main developer of the version of PBGI used in film production, presents the basic ideas behind the algorithm and discusses its integration in PIXAR's RenderMan.

Eric Tabellion: Ray Tracing vs. Point-based GI for Animated Films

Before point-based global illumination was developed, mainly ray tracing-based algorithms were used for GI effects in film production. For example, the irradiance caching algorithm was used on a number of animated movies created by PDI/DreamWorks starting with Shrek 2. Eric Tabellion presents the different GI techniques used in the company and discusses the pros and cons of ray tracing and PBGI in animated film rendering.

Michael Bunnell: Adding Real-Time Point-based GI to a Video Game

The point-based global illumination technique was first proposed by Michael Bunnell for real-time rendering of GI in games. Since then, Michael has worked on the integration of PBGI into several commercial game engines. He discusses some specific problems encountered in this process.

David Larsson: Pre-computing Lighting in Games

Baking pre-computed lighting into light maps is a traditional approach to including GI effects into game environments. The practice continues to be used today thanks to its advantages in terms of speed and game engine simplicity. David presents current approaches to light baking and discusses some challenging problems in pre-computed GI such as handling dynamic lights and geometry.

Anton Kaplanyan: Dynamic Global Illumination for Games, from Idea to Production

Since game environments are getting more dynamic these days, they are no longer as amenable to pre-computed lighting solutions. This is why developers are intensively searching for new algorithms fast enough to computed GI in real-time, in the course of the game play. One such technique is point-based global illumination. A different technique, dubbed Light Propagation Volumes, was developed by Anton Kaplanyan and colleagues in Crytek. Anton presents the principle of their technique as well as his experience with integrating the technique into the rendering engine and the art production pipeline.


Jaroslav Křivánek was supported by the European Commission's Marie Curie Fellowship PIOF-GA-2008-221716.