The Visual Computer

, Volume 24, Issue 7–9, pp 485–494 | Cite as

Caustic spot light for rendering caustics

  • Xinguo LiuEmail author
  • Zhao Dong
  • Hujun Bao
  • Qunsheng Peng
Open Access
Original Article


It is difficult to render caustic patterns at interactive frame rates. This paper introduces new rendering techniques that relax current constraints, allowing scenes with moving, non-rigid scene objects, rigid caustic objects, and rotating directional light sources to be rendered in real-time with GPU hardware acceleration. Because our algorithm estimates the intensity and the direction of caustic light, rendering of non-Lambertian surfaces is supported. Previous caustics algorithms have separated the problem into pre-rendering and rendering phases, storing intermediate results in data structures such as photon maps or radiance transfer functions. Our central idea is to use specially parameterized spot lights, called caustic spot lights (CSLs), as the intermediate representation of a two-phase algorithm. CSLs are flexible enough that a small number can approximate the light leaving a caustic object, yet simple enough that they can be efficiently evaluated by a pixel shader program during accelerated rendering.We extend our approach to support changing lighting direction by further dividing the pre-rendering phase into per-scene and per-frame components: the per-frame phase computes frame-specific CSLs by interpolating between CSLs that were pre-computed with differing light directions.


Image synthesis Display algorithm Caustic  Spot light 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinguo Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhao Dong
    • 2
  • Hujun Bao
    • 1
  • Qunsheng Peng
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Lab of CAD&CGZhejiang UniversityHangzhouP.R. China
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institut für InformatikSaarbrückenGermany

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