Disney Research


This paper generates the final images by combining separately rendered R, G, and B images. The timings reported (low-order, high-order, total, and TTUV) are average timings over color channels. For computing timings of the combined RGB images, the reported numbers should be multiplied by a factor of 3.

We address the problem of modeling and rendering granular materials—such as large structures made of sand, snow, or sugar— where an aggregate object is composed of many randomly oriented, but discernible grains. These materials pose a particular challenge as the complex scattering properties of individual grains, and their packing arrangement, can have a dramatic effect on the large-scale appearance of the aggregate object. We propose a multi-scale modeling and rendering framework that adapts to the structure of scattered light at different scales. We rely on path tracing the individual grains only at the finest scale, and—by decoupling individual grains from their arrangement—we develop a modular approach for simulating longer-scale light transport. We model light interactions within and across grains as separate processes and leverage this decomposition to derive parameters for classical radiative transport, including standard volumetric path tracing and a diffusion method that can quickly summarize the large scale transport due to many grain interactions. We require only a one-time precomputation per exemplar grain, which we can then reuse for arbitrary aggregate shapes and a continuum of different packing rates and scales of grains. We demonstrate our method on scenes containing mixtures of tens of millions of individual, complex, specular grains that would be otherwise infeasible to render with standard techniques.

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