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Submitted by John van der Burg, posted on December 21, 2001

Image Description, by John van der Burg

It has been a while since I submitted an IOTD, so I thought why not show something I'm working on now in my free time :) The images above are all rendered using Mystique, which is the name of my first real render system.

After seeing all these global illumination renders on the web (since it's such a hot topic) I wanted to give it a try myself too, and this is the result till now. Still the system is far from finished and can be (and will be) improved on a lot of fronts. Let me tell something about the images you see.

The upper left image shows a UFO only lit by skylight, no additional lightsources in the scene. Currently the skylight is just a constant color, but I am planning to support real sunlight as well. The image on the right of that is the same UFO lit by skylight and an additional omni lightsource.

The cars below the UFOs are also rendered using global illumination (all pics use GI) but in an indoor environment and with reflections. There is one omni light a bit above the back of the car.

The tiger on the left is Majid, a model of our game in production. However the model isn't finished yet. Just a box around the tiger and an omni behind the tiger. The tigher head uses one omni on the left and skylight. You can see that the model are actually 2 models (a half tiger, mirrored) since the normals do not match up yet, so you that edge.

And finally at the bottom you see a car with only skylight on the left, and with skylight and materials and an omni and specular on the right.

Please note that the antialiassing still sucks. And the images are still noisy.

Time for some tech info:
  • Can render scenes being exported from 3DSMax 4 and Maya 4
  • Current render plugins for mystique are: SimpleTracer, which is just a simple raytracer with reflections and all the standard stuff and MCTracer which is the render plugin used to render all above images. It uses montecarlo techniques with stratisfication on the hemisphere to generate the current samples for indirect lighting. I will upgrade this later on to Quasi-Montecarlo, which doesn't use real random stuff, but still on some sort of random way (to avoid aliassing) which should reduce the variance in the renders quite a lot. And this in combination with importance sampling should result in really nice quality. The diablos and first tiger pic however used more samples. Unfortunately I don't exactly remember how many. Probably 5x5x5 or 6x6x5.
  • Mystique is a .lib, and I created some gui for it as well.
  • Most images shown used 4x4x5 samples per pixel (5 for anti aliassing, which is just simple area filter, but that sucks)
  • Current ray acceleration plugins are: SimpleGraph, which only uses object bounds and after that polygons as acceleration. And an Octree plugin, which uses an octree *duh* :) Ofcourse the octree speeds up a lot, but I will build new plugins soon, because octrees are definitely not the best for this. KDTrees will be better, or other types of grids. Still have to do some testing and research on this.
  • Support for area lights (triangle lights at the moment, so you can make emitting objects)
  • Coming soon:
  • Texture support (shaders)
  • Quasi MC
  • Importance sampling
  • Non lamb surfaces
  • Caustics
  • Refraction
  • Sunlight and cloud simulation
  • Transparent surfaces
  • Better anti aliassing
  • Depth of field
  • Planned for later:
  • Subsurface scattering
  • Volumetric effects (light, fog)
  • You can see some more renders at in the Mystique section.

    - John

    Image of the Day Gallery


    Message Center / Reader Comments: ( To Participate in the Discussion, Join the Community )
    Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 05:44 PM

    nice job man :)

    Thanks :) But you already saw the pics :))

    this is going to make my global illumination stuff ( - and don't laugh please :) look a bit crap though ;)

    No way man. You are doing great stuff! And as you know your GI is pretty much the same as what I have now. But I am just a bit ahead by supporting poly models and some more advanced state of the system behind it. Don't be so shy, you are really doing very well and your work is definitely not crappy! :)

    - John


    December 21, 2001, 05:47 PM

    Just resent that mail ... you're not getting off that easy ;)

    I really like the fact, that you can exchange certain components ... it just makes experimenting with different approaches that much more manageable. I think you should also use a plugin-approach to the pixel-sampling for the anti-aliasing. I mean, you could start with a simple-sampler which just does one sample per pixel and then upgrade to an adaptive stochastic sampler, etc...

    Memory usage for photon-mapping ... either you used too many photons or your data structure for the individual photons was too big. 500,000 photons should be enough and the struct Jensen uses for a photon is 28 bytes, so the map (disregarding the kd-tree storage) is about 13.7 MB ... that is not a lot of mem. BTW, I also got the Jensen book recently and really like it.

    - Marco

    William Dahlberg

    December 21, 2001, 05:48 PM

    Cool stuff!
    A tutorial that explains it in normal language would be awsome!

    That Lamborghini really looks amazing!

    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 05:49 PM

    I started thinking about the system design in July this year, and really started implementing the system design in September. Then first built the simpletracer as system test and for adjusting the design. Then started with the GI plugin, did some photonmapping tests, after that converted my raytracer into a montecarlo tracer.
    But I don't work so much on it. Just when I'm in the mood to work on it and if I have time for it. You can code a slow, badly designed GI renderer with around the same resulting quality in 1 day if you want (and if you know how it works ofcourse).
    Finding out how it exactly works (the research) however takes the longest of all.

    - John

    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 05:50 PM

    except that lower-right yellow car, which looks kinda plastic and all fake'n'stuff

    I have to agree with you on that, it sucks :) But didn't many other cool pics to show :)

    - John


    December 21, 2001, 05:52 PM

    Here's some stuff, which I found interesting. It's probably a bit hard to understand, since it's just slides and no explanatory text in-between, but it's still quite a good resource.

    - Marco

    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 06:01 PM

    Just resent that mail ... you're not getting off that easy ;)

    Haha, no prob :)


    December 21, 2001, 06:52 PM

    The left jeap looks alot like a sand model (& right UFO) :)
    I am impressed about that.


    December 21, 2001, 07:19 PM

    The tiger is really really nice.




    December 21, 2001, 07:43 PM

    When did you photograph my Lamborghini?! :)

    Looks very nice!

    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 07:46 PM

    Cool, me too :)

    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 07:47 PM

    Actually I stole it from you. Didn't you miss something in your garage? :)


    December 21, 2001, 08:13 PM

    Hey John! I've seen those too:) Keep up the great work, and can't wait to see what's next.

    John van der Burg

    December 21, 2001, 08:28 PM

    Damn, you also have seen them already :)
    Hmm, maybe that might be because you are a friend and collegue :)

    Steven Wittens

    December 21, 2001, 09:10 PM

    The noise made the first pic remind me of the obscure, noisy image that is usual for UFO sighting pics :)

    And the tiger-face looks totally like a real stone statue. Amazing :)
    This shows that lighting really is the most important part of CG images.


    December 21, 2001, 10:21 PM

    Well done, very impressive. I absolutly love this stuff. In fact I just got my hands on Final Render for 3DSMAX, and I haven't stopped playing with is for over 5 days straight, its amasing what GI and photon caustices do to a 3d scene. Keep up the great work ;)

    David Olsson

    December 21, 2001, 10:57 PM

    John sent me those pictures a few days ago, I bet he showed them to me before you ! :)

    Wim Libaers

    December 22, 2001, 04:12 AM

    Of course lighting is the most important part of graphics. Without light, how are you going to see anything? ;-)

    Great pictures by the way, especially the less colourful ones.


    December 22, 2001, 06:19 AM

    Our bus looked just like the car on that lower right picture after we were stuck for 6 hours yesterday on Autobahn A72...



    December 22, 2001, 06:21 AM

    ...lower left of course (because of snow drifts)



    December 22, 2001, 07:10 AM

    what he ment by 'lighting' is the correct brightness of every area in a scene, calculated using global illumination techniques (eg.radiosity) is only what achieves convincing photorealistic CG images.


    December 22, 2001, 10:54 AM

    you're a very nice person yourself, always answering in a nice and very polite way (polite? does this word exist like that?). and i have to add, your work is very good, too. you're simply great. hope to see your pictures soon as plugin in my max:)

    other question, how long does it take to render such a picture?

    oh, and yeah, the noise based on the too less sampling rate is great, imho. i know it is bad if you use complex scenes with refraction and all and want to let it look like diamonds and glass etc, but for natural things its much bether.

    Lion V

    December 22, 2001, 11:51 AM

    The top-left UFO looks great.
    The noise really makes a difference- keep it; at least as an option.
    The actual models look nice, but you need mre alpha on the winows of the cars.
    Its a nice iotd


    December 22, 2001, 02:09 PM

    Who wants help SETI project?
    then go,
    there is a screensaver which is processing data from radio telescopes.
    Alien Search on your home.


    December 22, 2001, 03:20 PM

    I'm running the United Devices thingy ( myself.
    Difficult choice....
    Find alien noises/Help cure cancer/Find alien noises/Help cure cancer.
    ...well, not THAT difficult :/


    December 22, 2001, 03:40 PM

    Yeah, but aren't you going to feel silly when the first things that the aliens do is..... cure cancer. :)



    December 23, 2001, 07:37 AM

    Everyone here is aware that John is actually trying to remove the noise, right?


    December 23, 2001, 10:00 AM

    You guys put such nice looking pics depicting 3d rendered goodness up there, and then act like it's no big deal. Awesome, d00dz! :)


    Mikko Siren

    December 23, 2001, 12:02 PM

    DAMN.. When I saw those top UFOs and not the ground while I was waiting to the image to be loaded I though that after a while someone posted a photograph again =)
    Those UFOs(or what ever) and the lions(specially the lions head) looks like a real photographs to me.. Really awesome!!!!


    December 23, 2001, 01:05 PM

    wow, amazing stuff!

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