Casting Shadows in Real Time

Elmar Eisemann, Ulf Assarsson, Michael Schwarz, Michael Wimmer
SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 Half-Day Course


Shadows are crucial for enhancing realism, and they provide important visual cues. In recent years, many important contributions have been made in representation of both hard shadows and soft shadows. With the tremendous increase of computational power and capabilities of graphics hardware, high-quality real-time shadows are now a reachable goal. But with the growing volume of available choices, it is particularly difficult to pick the right solution and assess product shortcomings. Because currently there is no ideal approach available, algorithms should be selected in accordance with the context in which shadows are produced. The possibilities range across a wide spectrum, from very approximate but really efficient to slower but accurate, adapted only to smaller or only to larger sources, addressing directional lights or positional lights, or involving GPU or CPU-heavy computations. This course is a guide to better understanding of the limitations and failure cases, advantages and disadvantages, and suitability of the algorithms for different application scenarios. It focuses on real-time, interactive solutions but also discusses offline approaches.

Course Notes

PDF (34.4 MB)
  author    = {Elmar Eisemann and Ulf Assarsson and Michael Schwarz and Michael Wimmer},
  title     = {Casting Shadows in Real Time},
  year      = {2009},
  month     = dec,
  booktitle = {ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 Courses},

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