Real-Time Dynamic Shadow Generation

by Evan Closson
12/15/2001
real-time dynamic shadows screen shot real-time dynamic shadows user interface

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Introduction

This project was created for CSE528(Computer Graphics) at SUNY Stony Brook. It demonstrates the use shadow algorithms based in a small virtual environment. The idea of my project was to implement shadow algorithms to generate shadows that look good and have a flexible use with a low cost frame rate hit.

Importance of Shadows in Virtual Environments

shadows demonstrate spatial relationships

Shadows are a very important piece of the puzzle in a virtual environment. They play a major role in the determination of special relationships between objects in a virtual scene. Without shadows the realism of a scene is lost and the spatial location of models can be ambiguous. The picture on the right illustrates the importance of shadows in the determination of spatial relationships. The scene on the left consists of a thin blue rectangle, a purple cube and one light source off in the distance a bit. Where is the light coming from? Where are the objects in relation to each other? Is the blue rectangle resting on the floor? Can shadows answer these questions? In the scene on the right, shadows are being cast and the answers to these questions are easily found.

Real-Time Dynamic Shadow Algorithms

The Future of Shadow Algorithms in Real-Time

With the ever-increasing need for more realism and at a higher frame rate it is no surprise that the future of shadow rendering is starting to take a more hardware specific approach. The same algorithms are being used but fine tuned and accelerated with hardware specific techniques for the shadow rendering algorithms. NVIDIA Corporations? new graphics card the GeForce3 is the first graphics card to incorporate in it a shadow buffer ? a segment of memory that is dedicated to do one specific thing only ? help in rendering shadows in real-time.

The algorithm that the new NVIDIA card will use is based on a shadow mapping technique. Instead of mapping shadows though it maps un-shadowed areas. This simplifies the hardware and is the approach that shadow algorithms are starting to implement.

NVIDIA Corporations? new GeForce3 will revolutionize the way in which shadows are created in virtual environments. Right from the mouth of NVIDIA: ?NVIDIA shadow buffers represent a giant leap forward for the PC graphics industry. The unique hardware features of the GeForce3 Ti GPUs make realistic, real-time shadows available for the first time ever on consumer PCs and bridge the gap between cinema style shadow effects and the state-of-the-art for PC graphics.?

A Few Nice Pictures

real-time dynamic shadows screenshot real-time dynamic shadows screenshot real-time dynamic shadows screenshot