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Capturing and simulating the interaction of light with the world around us.

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Driven by the increasing demand for photorealistic computer-generated images, graphics is currently undergoing a substantial transformation to physics-based approaches which carefully process visual information characterizing both object shape and the interaction of light and matter. Progress on all fronts of this transition—acquisition, physical models and simulation techniques—has been steady but mostly independent from another. When combined, the resulting methods are in many cases impracticably slow and require unrealistic workarounds to process even simple everyday input. My research lies at the interface of these research fields; my goal is to break down the barriers between acquisition, simulation techniques and the underlying physical models, and to use the resulting insights to develop realistic methods that remain efficient over a wide range of inputs. I will cover three areas of recent work: the first involves volumetric modelling approaches to create realistic images of woven and knitted cloth. Next, I will discuss reflectance models for glitter/sparkle effects and arbitrarily layered materials that are specially designed to allow for efficient simulations. In the last part of the talk, I will give an overview of Manifold Exploration, a Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique that is able to reason about the geometric structure of light paths in high dimensional configuration spaces defined by the underlying physical models, and which uses this information to accelerate computation of rendered images and animation sequences.

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