One of the toughest computing tasks in animation–for games, movies, or even medical imaging–is also one of the most important for realism: accurately rendering reflections and shadows. But today’s best mass-market software only approximates the play of light. Now researchers at companies like Adobe and Intel are developing software that can, almost in real time, change the appearance of moving objects as they pass through shadow or reflect new aspects of their surroundings. In effect, the software determines what path the light in the scene would have taken to reach each pixel. If it identifies a reflective surface or an obstruction, it changes the pixel’s color value accordingly. The technology can handle multiple shadows and reflections–even reflections of reflections. Earlier versions, which took hours to execute these steps, were used mainly by architects and Hollywood animation studios. Daniel Pohl, an Intel researcher, says the technology needs fine-tuning, but he thinks that future personal computers with multiple processing cores could use it for everything from traversing virtual worlds like Second Life to viewing 3-D medical images. The software could reach consumers within five years.
See images of a scene that uses real-time ray tracing.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton has quit Google
Hinton will be speaking at EmTech Digital on Wednesday.
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