Caustics Mapping: An Image-space Technique for Real-time Caustics

August 11th, 2005

Caustics are complex patterns of shimmering light formed due to reflective and refractive objects; for example, those formed on the floor of a swimming pool. Caustics Mapping is a physically based real-time caustics rendering algorithm. It utilizes the concept of backward ray-tracing, however it involves no expensive computations that are generally associated with ray-tracing and other such techniques. The main advantage of caustics mapping is that it is extremely practical for games and other interactive applications because of its high frame rates. Furthermore, the algorithm runs entirely on graphics hardware, which leaves the CPU free for other computation. There is no pre-computation involved, and therefore fully dynamic geometry, lighting, and viewing directions are supported. In addition, there is no limitation on the topology of the reciever geometry, i.e., caustics can be formed on arbitrary surfaces. (Caustics Mapping: An Image-space Technique for Real-time Caustics. Musawir A. Shah and Sumanta Pattanaik. Technical Report, School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Central Florida, CS TR 50-07, 07/29/2005 (Submitted for Publication))