RADIANCE Digest Volume 1, Number 2

Hello Everyone,

Sorry that it's been so long since my last digest mailing.  Rather a lot
of mail has piled up.  I've keyed the subjects so that you can skip to
the one you're interested in more quickly.  Just search for /^PAT/, where
PAT is a topic key from the list below.  You can skip to the next section
with /^==/. The topics in this issue are as follows:

	LIB	Setting up the library path variable RAYPATH
	OCONV	Oconv parameters and errors
	PART	Partitioned ray tracing using -vs and -vl
	ASPECT	Aspect ratios and pfilt options
	LUM	Computing luminance and daylight factors
	SIG	Questions about `88 Siggraph paper
	COLOR	Dealing with different color formats
	RPICT	Rpict options
	OUT	Using Radiance to compute a simple outdoor scene
	ARCH	Architrion file translator
	ALG	Secondary source calculations and new algorithms


LIB	Setting up the library path variable RAYPATH

Date: Thu, 18 Oct 90 15:58:35 -0400
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: RADIANCE question

I'm working through the RADIANCE tutorial (got as far as adding the window
to the sample room before, have some time to go farther today for some
reason) and I have run into a problem.

I'm at the point in the tutorial where I've done:

$ oconv sky.rad outside.rad window.rad room.rad > test.oct

and am generating a picture with:

$ rpict -vp 2.25 0.375 1.5 -vd -0.25 0.125 -0.125 -av 0.5 0.5 0.5 test.oct > 

and it gives me:

rpict: fatal - cannot find function file "rayinit.cal" 
rpict: 30296 rays, 49.22% done after 0.0141 CPU hours

after working a bit (two, three minutes on a Sun 4/110).

Any idea(s) as to why this is dying?  All my previous images have been 
generated without trouble.


steve spencer

ps: I'm reasonably certain that I have entered all of the data files from
the tutorial document correctly.

Date: Thu, 18 Oct 90 13:14:31 PDT
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu
Subject: Re:  RADIANCE question

Hi Steve,

The problem appears to be that your Radiance library files are not in
their standard location, which is "/usr/local/lib/ray".  In the README
file in the distribution it describes where to put things.  The files
in ray/lib should go in the library location.  It's OK not to put them
there, but you need to assign the environment variable RAYPATH if they're
somewhere else.  For example, if the Radiance distribution is sitting
in /usr/local/src/ray, then you can put the following in your .login:

	setenv RAYPATH .:/usr/local/src/ray/lib

and everything should work.  Note that RAYPATH is like the Bourne shell's
PATH variable, since it can take any number of directories to search in
order.  Typically, you want to have "." first, and you may have your own
private library to use before the system directory, plus someone else's
library at the end.

Good luck.  Let me know if you have any more problems.


OCONV	Oconv parameters and errors

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 90 14:54:25 EST
From: Eric Ost 
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: oconv parameter question

Greetings Greg,

This message concerns parameters to 'oconv'.
In particular the '-n' and '-r' options.
I think I mentioned that we have modeled the new Computer Science building
from the blueprints and I have begun building Radiance versions of all
the geometry files.  During the course of converting the polygonal data files
into octtree format files I ran into the following error message:

oconv: internal - set overflow in addobject (TOP.187)

I traced its source to 'oconv.c'.  The manual page for 'oconv' states
that by increasing the setlimit ('-n') and resolution ('-r') parameters
this message may be avoided.  The file f3n.rad (the 3rd floor geometry)
only contains 1408 discrete polygons, yet even when I use 'oconv' as:

oconv -n 10000 -r 16384 -f f3n.rad > f3.oct

I still get the 'set overflow' error message.
I also have tried scaling the entire geometry up by a factor of 10.0,
which increases the inter-object spacing.  Even so, the error still occurs.
Do you have any ideas?  BTW: I can send you the geometry file if you wish.



Date: Wed, 24 Oct 90 13:09:32 PDT
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: emo@cica.indiana.edu
Subject: Re:  oconv parameter question

First, increasing n cannot eliminate this error.  I checked the manual page,
and it doesn't say to increase -n when you encounter this message.  Since
-r doesn't seem to help, though, I would guess that you have many surfaces
(more than 128) piled on top of each other causing the error.  You must
eliminate this problem in the scene description first.  (Perhaps it is due
to a translator bug.)


Date: Wed, 24 Oct 90 15:20:26 EST
From: Eric Ost 
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: Re: oconv parameter question

You're correct about the manual page not mentioning an increase in '-n'.
Sorry for the confusion.

This could be a bug in the translator.  I am going to re-check the code
I wrote yesterday.  It is a program to translate from WaveFront .obj
to Radiance .rad format.  Pretty simple, but it's possible that I have
an 'off-by-one' error... though, the first floor looked ok when I rendered
it.  The output file consists of triangles only.  I am using a simple 
method of splitting rectangles, etc., into several triangles.

What does it 'mean' for two objects to be piled on top of one another?
More than two objects sharing an edge in common?



Date: Wed, 24 Oct 90 13:31:55 PDT
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: emo@cica.indiana.edu
Subject: Re: oconv parameter question

If you are willing to share your translator, I'd love to distribute it!
By "piled up" I mean coincident.  In other words, overlapping coplanar
polygons.  I have seen this error before and it almost always comes from
this type of problem.

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 90 16:16:47 EST
From: Eric Ost 
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: partitioned ray-tracing

I started compiling Radiance on our Stardent but ran into a nasty
NFS bug which caused the machine to actually crash.
I'll probably get back to it after I finish with this next batch
of client requests.

My, perhaps naive, idea was to sub-divide the image into equal areas
per-processor and let it run.  For example, with a 4 processor
machine, a 1024x1024 image would be split into 4 256x256 sub-images.
What kind of speed-up could we expect?  4 times?
And, is Radiance amenable to this kind of modification of its
run-time architecture?


PART	Partitioned ray tracing using -vs and -vl

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 90 14:39:48 PDT
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: emo@ogre.cica.indiana.edu
Subject: Re:  partitioned ray-tracing

Yes, 4-way image partitioning yields a 4 times speed improvement, and yes,
Radiance is amenable to such a procedure.  The only time this would
not result in a linear speedup is if you were using the indirect (ambient)
calculation capability, which is a global calculation.

To split up your rendering into 4 pieces, you should determine the view
you want, then reduce the horizontal and vertical size (-vh and -vv) by
two.  (For perspective views, this means: newsize = 2*atan(tan(oldsize/2)/2).)
Then, use the -vs and -vl parameters like so:

	Upper left:	rpict -vs -.5 -vl .5 -x 512 -y 512 [args] > ul.pic
	Upper right:	rpict -vs .5 -vl .5 -x 512 -y 512 [args] > ur.pic
	Lower left:	rpict -vs -.5 -vl -.5 -x 512 -y 512 [args] > ll.pic
	Lower right:	rpict -vs .5 -vl -.5 -x 512 -y 512 [args] > lr.pic

Then combine the images with pcompos thusly:

	pcompos ul.pic 0 512 ur.pic 512 512 ll.pic 0 0 lr.pic 512 0 > full.pic

Note that a 1024x1024 images splits into four 512x512 images, not four
256x256 ones.  The reason for using -vs and -vl is to get the correct
skewed perspective in each quadrant.  These options were designed for
creating panoramic views a piece at a time, as might be needed for a
mural or something.


ASPECT	Aspect ratios and pfilt options

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 90 14:17:11 -0400
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: GJWard@Csa1.lbl.gov
Subject: re: aspect ratios (again)

Something's not right here.

I'd like generate a 640 by 484 pixel image (ratio is 1.322314) with a 50-degree
horizontal view angle.  I used the following command (a fragment of it...):

-x 640 -y 484 -vh 50.0 -vv 37.8125

The ratios 640/484 and 50.0/37.8125 are identical, 1.3223140495.

The image produced is only 640 pixels by 470 pixels.

Any idea where my last 14 scanlines went?  Thanks.


ps: oh, the output was the same whether I had "-p 1.0" in the command line 
or not.

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 90 11:38:22 PDT
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu
Subject: re: aspect ratios (again)

The ratios between angles in a perspective view do not give the aspect
ratio of the image, unfortunately.  It all has to do with tangents.
The actual aspect ratio is given by:

	view aspect = y/x = tan(vv/2)/tan(vh/2)

This is a large part of why I introduced the -p option to the programs --
it was simply too difficult to do this calculation every time.  Generally,
you can give the maximum resolution in both x and y that you will allow,
then it will fit an image with the proper aspect ratio within those bounds.
If you must have absolute control over the x and y resolution, just give
a -p of 0, and make sure you know what you're doing.  In any case, getinfo
will report the PIXASPECT of the image if it differs from 1.


Date: Wed, 31 Oct 90 08:35:32 -0500
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: re:RADIANCE

Any quick answer to 'nice picture, Steve, but what about anti-aliasing'?
I'm looking at the parameters and have a couple of ideas, but nothing is
jumping out at me right now.  (Given the date, that's probably best.)
What parameters should be changed to anti-alias the image produced?
(As if 'anti-alias' was a verb....jeez.)



Date: Wed, 31 Oct 90 08:41:43 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu
Subject: re:RADIANCE

Use pfilt for anti-aliasing (in computer science, we're verbing words all
the time).  First you should generate an image at higher resolution than
you'll need for the final result.  Then, reduce the resolution with something

	pfilt -x /2 -y /2 input > output

For the best results, use an input resolution that is three times what you
want in the final image, and employ the -r option of pfilt for Gaussian

	pfilt -x /3 -y /3 -r .67 input > output

The argument to -r sets the amount of "defocusing", larger numbers resulting
in less focused images.  A value of .67 seems to be about optimal for most
purposes.  (Note that the -r option takes somewhat longer than the default
"box" filtering.  Also, you can use the -1 option of pfilt to speed things
up if you know how to adjust or have already adjusted the exposure.)


Date: Wed, 31 Oct 90 12:04:21 -0500
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: re:RADIANCE

Thanks.  I guess I was looking in the rpict documentation instead of the
pfilt documentation.  


LUM	Computing luminance and daylight factors

Date: 6 December 90, 10:28:38 MEZ
From: MICHAEL.SZERMAN.00497119703322.KKAC%ds0rus1i.bitnet@Csa3.lbl.gov
To: GJWARD@Csa3.lbl.gov

Hi Greg,
Thanks a lot for your last information about RTRACE. Allthough it
is running well now, one problem still remains.
How do we have to convert the three radiance/irradiance values
of the RTRACE-output to get final luminance/illuminance in cd/m2 ?
Next we intend to make a parameter study on a simple scene.
Therefore we need values of illuminance and daylight factor. Is it
possible to receive the daylight factor directly from RADIANCE or
must we calculate it from illuminance by hand ?
Last we want to know, whether we have understood the following
expression in the right way. You have said "an 88% transmittance
glass window has a transmission of 96% ". Does this mean, that from
the outside radiation 96% goes into the glass and 88% from the glass
into the room ?
If that's right, then we would like to know if the difference of 8%
is dependent on your definition of the material glas or if we can choose

Date: Thu, 6 Dec 90 08:58:19 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: kkac@ds0rus1i.bitnet

Hello Michael and Gernot,

The conversion from spectral radiance or irradiance (rgb) to luminance
or illuminance is:

	(.3*r + .59*g + .11*b) {watts} * 470 {lumens/watt} 

To get the daylight factor, you must divide by the external irradiance,
which is pi times the "ground ambient level" printed by gensky.  There
is a program called rcalc that performs these types of calculations
handily.  For example, you can get luminance (or illuminance) from
radiance (or irradiance) like so:

	getinfo - < rtrace.out | rcalc -e '$1=141*$1+277*$2+52*$3' > outputfile

Note that you could have piped the output of rtrace directly into rcalc.
Getinfo with the - option reads from standard input and gets rid of the
first few info lines from the rtrace run.  The -h option of rtrace does
the same thing, but if you wish to keep the rtrace file, this information
can come in handy.

To compute the daylight factor for Feb. 10th at 14 standard time in San
Francisco, gensky gives:

# gensky 2 10 14
# Ground ambient level: 5.256781

(I trust you remember to use the -l, -a and -m options for your location.)
We then use this value in rcalc to get daylight factors from irradiance like so:

	rtrace -h -i octree | rcalc -e '$1=(.3*$1+.59*$2+.11*$3)/(PI*5.257)'

I hope this gives you enough information to do what you want to.

As for glass, the 8% difference between 96% (transmission through the
medium itself) and 88% (transmissivity) is due to reflection, and it
varies with incident angle.  This value is determined absolutely by the
index of refraction, which for glass is 1.52.  I debated about making N
a parameter, but decided not to.  If you want to change the index of
refraction, you will need to go to two parallel but opposing dielectric


[I modified the numbers in this message as part of a correction for
	lumens/watt.  -G]

Date: 21 January 91, 11:41:01 MEZ
From: MICHAEL.SZERMAN.00497119703322.KKAC%ds0rus1i.bitnet@Csa3.lbl.gov
To: GJWARD@Csa3.lbl.gov

Hi Greg,
One new question about RADIANCE:
We've heard that there could be difficulties by transforming computed
luminance values into screen luminance, because in reality esometimes a
greater absolute difference of luminance density, as a
monitor is able to reproduce.
We've got a publication, which shows that a combinated linear
(for luminance less than 200 cd/m*2) and log grading (for luminance
greater than 200 cd/m*2) transformation should be used.
How does RADIANCE solve this problem ?
And therefore, how realistic is the brightness of a RADIANCE picture?
We would be glad for quick answer, because we need the information
for a report in two days.
Thanks a lot,

Date: Mon, 21 Jan 91 16:32:51 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: kkac@ds0rus1i.bitnet
Subject: display intensities

Hi Michael and Gernot,

I make no attempt in any of the Radiance display programs to map the
monitor intensities to anything other than a linear scale.  As far as
I'm concerned, none of the arguments that has been given for using a
logarithmic or a power law mapping of intensities is the least bit
compelling.  Radiance images and displays are similar to photographs
in their relatively hard clipping of intensities outside the displayable
range.  If a spot is too bright, it comes out white.  If it is too dark,
it comes out black.  Brightnesses inbetween have a brightness with a
linear proportion to the actual computed brightnesses.  I feel that
the only way to get a better display is to increase the dynamic range.

There are ways to compensate for lack of dynamic range in displayed
images.  Ximage and x11image have commands for displaying the numeric
value over selected image locations, and this number is not limited
by the display.  Also, the user can readjust the exposure by picking
a spot to normalize against and entering '='.  This way, the viewer
can dynamically adjust the displayed brightness range without having
to rerun pfilt.

I hope this has answered your question.  I think that people may
eventually agree on the best, most appropriate brightness mapping
for displays, but the debate is still raging.


P.S.  I have tried logarithmic mappings, and I think they are much
more difficult to interpret since contrast is lost in the image.

SIG	Questions about `88 Siggraph paper

To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: questions


Could you answer some questions regarding the [`88 Siggraph] paper?
Here they are...

1. Why is the correction term for surfaces in "front" not symmetric,
i.e. why can we use a back light value to evaluate illuminance in front
of it but not vice-versa?

2. Are secondary values also computed for higher generation sampling?

3. How many rays have you used to compute diffuse illuminance values
(using the primary method)?

4. Is the simulation done in terms of actual physical units (could you
define a light bulb of 60 Watts) or do you use just numbers that turn out

5. Are these superquadrics? Where did you get the textures?

Hope you will find the time to answer..
Thanks, Ari.

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 90 20:41:37 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
Subject: Re:  questions

Hi Ari,

Sure, I'd be happy to answer your questions.  One by one:

1. Why is the correction term for surfaces in "front" not symmetric,
i.e. why can we use a back light value to evaluate illuminance in front
of it but not vice-versa?

A: The reason I allow surfaces in front of a value to make use of it is
because the proximity calculated to other surfaces will consider things
in front as obstructions.  Therefore, it will be excluded by the other
accuracy conditions if there is a problem.

2. Are secondary values also computed for higher generation sampling?

A: If by secondary values you are referring to the interpolation method,
the answer is yes.  In fact, this is where interpolation really starts
to pay off, since the number of rays would increase exponentially otherwise.
When the first ray is cast, it spawns a few hundred interreflection
samples as part of a new primary calculation.  These in turn spawn
more primary calculations at the next level and so on.  But, since
the results of each primary calculation are cached and reused for
neighboring samples, the actual number of primary calculations is
limited by the total surface area sampled.  This fails to bring
dramatic savings only when the geometric complexity is so great
that most samples result in a new primary calculation (a dense forest
scene for example).

3. How many rays have you used to compute diffuse illuminance values
(using the primary method)?

A: This parameter varies quite a bit from one scene to another.  I
cannot answer in general except to say that you must have enough
rays in the initial sample to produce a value within your desired
tolerance.  For a simple rectangular space, you can get away with
a hundred rays or so for 5-10% accuracy.  A typical furnished office
with daylight may take several hundred or even a thousand rays for
the primary calculation.  (This number can be reduced for subsequent
reflections with no loss in accuracy.)

4. Is the simulation done in terms of actual physical units (could you
define a light bulb of 60 Watts) or do you use just numbers that turn out

A: Yes, physical units are used throughout.  Total output is defined
for light sources as well as directionality.  I even have a program
to import light fixture data from manufacturers.

I am going to Lausanne to work on daylight simulation.  It should be
fun, except I don't speak a word of French!


COLOR	Dealing with different color formats

Date: Fri, 4 Jan 91 14:02:27 EST
From: Ken Rossman 
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov (Gregory J. Ward)

Yeah, I think twice now (well, once from the last distribution, several
months ago, and once just yesterday).  :-)

I have a couple of questions and comments, though, since I have you "on the
line" here:

  - I have yet to make rview work right on my display.  I had thought it
    was having problems with my 24-bit display originally (I have a
    Sun-4/110 with a cg8 frame buffer, which is 24-bit color), but the same
    thing happens on 8-bit color displays.  I tried 'rview'-ing some of the
    sample octrees that are included with the distribution, and I generally
    get just a square in the upper righthand corner of the window that is
    created by rview (using '-o x11'), and I see that it seems to be trying
    to resolve the picture in successive quandrants and all that, but
    that's about all I can tell of what it is doing.  Sometimes I only see
    a completely white square, on other images I see a larger, gray one,
    but the result is never quite what I thought it should be.  I take it
    that might mean I'm just not using the right defaults at runtime?  If I
    give it no defaults on the command line, does it pick reasonable ones
    that should show me something of what is going on?

  - I tried out ra_pr24, and noticed that it has the same ailment as many
    other pieces of code I have played with over the years in conjuncture
    with this particular 24-bit display.  A Sun 24-bit raster is stored in
    either XBGR order (for 32-bit rasters, where X is currently undefined),
    or in BGR order (for 24-bit rasters).  In either case, though, most
    folks would expect the channels to appear in RGB order, but they are,
    instead, the reverse of that.  When I view some of the images using
    ra_pr24, I get blues and reds reversed.

  - Just happened to notice in the man page for ra_bn, that in the text, it
    is referred to as ra_t16 instead.

FYI, /Ken

P.S. -- Thanks for this distribution!!!

[Ken included my response in his following letter. -G]

Date: Fri, 4 Jan 91 15:26:58 EST
From: Ken Rossman 
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov (Gregory J. Ward)

Hi Greg,
  There are probably one of two (or two of two) things wrong with
  running rview -- the exposure and the viewpoint.  Neither one is
  set to a reasonable default, since this varies considerably from
  one scene to another.

Well, that'll do it.  I was just playing dumb and not setting these
parameters at all when running rview before.  I tried messing with the
exposure a bit in rview, and that changes things a bit, but I know now that
the viewpoint isn't right (I don't know how to properly change that around
right now, because I don't know what relative units I am working with, and
what values might be reasonable -- these must also be picture dependent).

  The view parameters (particularly -vp and -vd) should be set according to
  where you want to be looking in the scene.

Right...  by the way, what is the equivalent command (if there is one) in
the interactive shell part of rview for this?

  There is often a view parameters file associated with an octree, which
  ends in a .vp suffix in general.  You may give this to rview with the -vf
  option.  The exposure is a problem that is easily solved after the
  rendering starts using the "exposure" command.  Just type "e 1" once you
  are in rview and it does the rest.  (It may be necessary to use ^R as
  well to redraw the screen and get a better color table allocation on an
  8-bit display.)
OK, I'll try all of those suggestions out.  I'm really starting to use this
software now, because I'm coming to the point where I will be having some
real applications for it (I think I mentioned a long time ago that one
thing I wanted to do was to do some *very* fancy presentation graphics (for
things like slide shows), and while this package isn't really aimed at that
kind of application, assuming I can get things like your 3D fonts working
right, it sure could look good for this kind of application!)...

  I'm really disturbed if 24-bit rasterfiles are actually BGR instead of

Sorry, but they area, in the case of Sun raster files.  Sun defines a
24-bit and a 32-bit file format, and they are, as I said before BGR and
XBGR order, respectively.

  I wrote the translator to hand files to another program, which must have
  this same confusion, since they work together so well.  I guess the only
  solution is to add an option to ra_pr24 to tell it to put out RGB
  sequences instead of BGR (which should be the default if it is correct!).

I had thought ra_pr24 was supposed to write out a standard Sun raster file.
If that's the case, then you do need to write out the files in BGR or XBGR
order.  What other program did you expect ra_pr24 to "feed"?
  Thank you for spotting the problem in the ra_bn manual page.

You're welcome.  And as always, thanks for all your efforts on this software!


Date: Fri, 4 Jan 91 15:44:03 EST
From: Ken Rossman 
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov (Gregory J. Ward)

That's got it!  I issued the following command (as per some of your
instructions in the previous message):

  rview -vf examp.vp -o x11 examp.oct

and the thing fired right up, and is looking good!

I'm curious, though.  Does rview know it is working in the 24-bit domain,
or does it operate in an 8-bit domain internally, and upward expand the
resulting image for 24-bit planes?  /Ken

Date: Fri, 4 Jan 91 13:29:15 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: ken@watsun.cc.columbia.edu

The program I was feeding with ra_pr24 is yet another converter for
a Kodak color printer.  I don't have access to any 24-bit color
Suns, so I've never tried ra_pr24 there.

The internal color calculations are floating point.  They use 4 bytes
per color within the program, and are converted to 3 1-byte mantissas
with a common exponent when written out to a Radiance picture file.
In every case, there is better accuracy available than can be displayed
on any existing hardware.  The drivers for true color under X11 still
need some work, since I have never gained access to a 24-bit machine
running X11 and have not debugged the code for x11image or rview there.


RPICT	Rpict options

Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 17:45:04 -0500
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: Radiance parameters

Quick question:  What parameters and values would YOU use to 'rpict' if you
wanted to make an image which did a good bit of interreflection of light
and distribute the light sources (give light sources some penumbra)?


Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 14:50:47 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu
Subject: Re:  Radiance parameters

I'm not sure I can give you a good answer about parameters, since it
depends a lot on the scene.  Could you describe it for me briefly,
including the number and types of light sources and if there is any
daylight in the space?  How long are you willing to wait?  What machine
are you using?  Unfortunatly, setting the calculation paramters is
more of an art than a science right now...


Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 17:56:39 -0500
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject:  Radiance parameters

Assume an interior.  No daylight.  Small spherical light sources either 
recessed in the ceiling or in lamp(s) with shades (like a Luxo lamp though
more crudely modeled, at least for now).  Tables, chairs.  Perhaps (later)
a few area sources simulating fluorescent light boxes in the ceiling.
(Jeez, I've just described my office.  Oh well...)

Is that enough description?


Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 15:19:45 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu
Subject: Re:  Radiance parameters


For penumbras, make sure that your sources are round, or if they are
polygons that they are roughly square.  This ensures that sampling over
their area will not result in inappropriate misses.  (In future
releases, you will be warned when this happens.)  You should also turn
off image sampling, since source sampling requires that every pixel be
calculated.  (You should probably render at a higher resolution, then
reduce the picture size and anti-alias with pfilt.)  Here are a
reasonable set of rpict parameters for source sampling:

	-dj .5		# Direct jitter set to .5 (1 is maximum)
	-sp 1		# Turn off image plane sampling

For interreflection, the first thing to remember is that you should save
the "ambient" values in an overature run to populate the scene.  I suggest
the following parameters to rpict:

	-ab 1		# Calculate 1 interreflection bounce
	-ad 256		# Use 256 divisions in initial hemisphere sampling
	-as 128		# Sample 128 directions for variance reduction
	-aa .15		# Set the interreflection interpolation error tolerance
	-ar 10		# Rolloff accuracy at 1/10th global boundary scale
	-af ambfile	# Save "ambient" values in a file
	-av v0 v0 v0	# YOU have to figure out a good value for v0!

The way to figure out v0 is to run rview without setting -av first, then
pick a point that's kind of in shadow, but not completely, and use the
trace command to get the value.  Use the same value for red green and blue,
unless you want a colored ambient component.

Run rpict at low resolution first as an overture to the main rendering,
and discard the resulting picture like so:

	rpict -dj .5 -sp 1 -ab 1 -ad 256 -as 128 -aa .15 -ar 10 -af ambfile \
		-av v0 v0 v0 -x 64 -y 64 octree >/dev/null

This stores some ambient values in ambfile to populate the scene and improve
the appearance of the final run:

	rpict -dj .5 -sp 1 -ab 1 -ad 256 -as 128 -aa .15 -ar 10 -af ambfile \
		-av v0 v0 v0 -x 1024 -y 1024 octree >picture.raw

Then, you can use pfilt to set the exposure, anti-alias and reduce the

	pfilt -x /2 -y /2 -r .67 picture.raw > picture.done

Since rpict is likely to take a long time for such a rendering, I 
find it useful to have it write progress reports every hour to a
separate error file using the following options:

	-t 3600 -e errfile

That way, when you log out with rpict running in the background, you can
always find out what's going on.


Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 18:21:43 -0500
From: spencer@cgrg.ohio-state.edu (Stephen N. Spencer)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject:  Radiance parameters

Wow.  Thanks for the well-commented information.  I'll let you know how it
turns out.  


OUT	Using Radiance to compute a simple outdoor scene

Date: Thu, 10 Jan 91 12:38:10 PST
From: djones@awesome.berkeley.edu (David G. Jones)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: cloudy day

A student wants to create an image of a sphere sitting on a plane
as it would look on a very cloudy day.  ie illuminated by a
uniform hemi-sphere (the sky).  He does not want to consider
inter-reflections (so he doesn't need to use your ambient calculation)

Is the only way of doing this to have very many point sources of light
on a hemi-sphere, or does RADIANCE have another way to handle this?


P.S.  He's a computer vision student and wants to compare
the appearance of a scene under various lighting situations.

Date: Thu, 10 Jan 91 14:31:19 PST
From: greg (Gregory J. Ward)
To: djones@awesome.berkeley.edu
Subject: Re:  cloudy day

Hi Dave,

You can use the -c option to gensky to produce a cloudy sky distribution,
which is not the same as a uniform sky distribution.  (Nature does not
usually produce uniform skies.)  He should use the interreflection
calculation, though, since that's by far the best way to account for
the sky's contribution.  Try the following description to get started:

	# A cloudy sky at 4pm (standard time) on March 13th

	!gensky 3 13 16 -c

	# the glow type for the sky

	skyfunc glow skyglow
	4 1 1 1 0

	# the actual source for the sky dome

	skyglow source sky
	4 0 0 1 180

	# the glow type for the ground and its source

	skyfunc glow groundglow
	4 1.3 .8 .6 0

	groundglow source ground
	4 0 0 -1 180

The parameters I recommend for rpict are as follows:

	set rparams="-ab 1 -ad 256 -aa .1 -av 4 4 4"

Note that the value for -av is that suggested by gensky.  Then, he should
run an overture calculation to save up some ambient values in a file,
like so:

	rpict $rparams -af ambfile -x 64 -y 64 octree >/dev/null

The final rendering is done with the same parameters, but at a higher

	rpict $rparams -af ambfile -x 512 -y 512 octree > picture.raw


ARCH	Architrion file translator

Date:  Wed, 13 Mar 91 16:24 MST
From: JALove%uncamult.bitnet@csa3.lbl.gov
Subject:  Architrion Front-end for Radiance
To: GJWard@csa3.lbl.gov

Several months ago, you informed me that an Architrion interface was
under development for Radiance.  Is it completed?  Are interfaces
available other than the McDonnell-Douglas BDS-GDS?  Thanks.

Date: Thu, 14 Mar 91 08:25:05 +0100
From: greg (Greg Ward)
To: JALove@uncamult.bitnet
Subject: Re:  Architrion Front-end for Radiance

The interface currently works only for Architrion text files, which is
the package we've been using on the MacIntosh where it runs.  Did you
have some other CAD program in mind?

Jennifer Schuman (jennifer@hobbes.lbl.gov) is the one working on it,
so you might want to ask her directly.  It is in pretty good shape
as far as I'm concerned.


Date: Thu, 14 Mar 91 16:46:33 PST
From: jennifer@hobbes.lbl.gov (Jennifer Schuman)
To: JALove%uncamult.bitnet@csa3.lbl.gov
Subject: Architrion-to-Radiance

Greg and I are working together on an interface/translator/preprocessor to
make Architrion files usable as Radiance scene descriptions.  It is available
to anyone who has the patience to work with it in its current "alpha" form. I'm
not too eager to release it just yet (better to wait a few months), but if
you're game then I'm willing.

The details are as follows.  Greg has written a translator called "arch2rad"
which takes an architrion 3d text file and, together with a "mapping" file, 
creates a Radiance scene description.  The mapping file is a text file which
assigns materials to the surfaces created in Architrion.

I have written an interface with HyperCard, to create this mapping file. The 
interface can also be used to create or modify materials.  Users map materials
onto surfaces by creating a series of rules based on Architrion object 
identifiers.  For example, if I have some blocks called "floor" in
Architrion, and have drawn some of them in red and some in blue, then I might
make 2 mapping rules to tell Radiance that I want my material called "marble"
applied to all red "floor" blocks and "carpet" applied to all blue "floor"
blocks.  It's pretty simple.  It just requires a little forethought when 
creating the original Architrion model, since how you name, layer, color and
place (i.e. position of reference face) blocks is important for locating

If you run the interface under A/UX, then it can also automatically generate
the Radiance octree.  If you are using the mac linked to a Unix machine, then
you must do some ftp-ing of files back and forth.

Arch2rad currently runs on the Unix side of this, while the interface is on the
Mac finder side.  This is a pretty inconvenient set-up at the moment, but I
expect to have arch2rad running on the mac, from within the interface, very
soon.  So if you're eager for the interface, I'd highly recommend waiting at
least until that task is finished.

As for documentation, unfortunately all we have is Greg's brief write-up of
the arch2rad procedure and my very messy scribbled notes.  Since I am my own
alpa tester for this (I'm currently doing a small design project with these
new tools), I jot down notes as I go.  There are little idiosyncracies in
Architrion that are critical with respect to Radiance rendering, and I would
like to have a small user's manual/handbook of "tips" for people working with
the interface.  Unfortunately, this project only gets worked on in my non-
existant spare time, so who knows when we'll have a polished release version.

I'm happy to send the software to you over the net.  Or call if you'd like to
chat about it.

Jennifer Schuman

ALG	Secondary source calculations and new algorithms

Date: Mon, 1 Apr 91 21:14:57 PST
From: chas@hobbes.lbl.gov (Charles Ehrlich)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: Another Rad Idea


I've been cogitating on the "problem" of backward ray tracing,
that being that only direct shadow rays to sources will be
computed for illumination levels, except when ambient bounces
are in effect.  In other words, no light bouncing off mirrors
will cast shadows, right?

What the scenario in which the user has the option of defining
any number of "virtual sources" by material name either on
the command line or by another material definition that cross
references to the specified materials as potential contributors
to radiance levels.  The thought here is that at every point
in the scene, rays would be traced to each light source (statistics
permitting) including each "virtual source."  When the virtual
direct ray hits its mark (only if, statistics permitting) it
then traces X number of additional rays to the light sources,
considers the material properties of the virtual source (like
if it is highly polished metal) and then figures out any
additional contribution the reflected images of sources should
have on the original scene location.  In this manner, it
would seem, the effect of light bouncing off of mirrors could
be acheived.

Realizing that this method potentially greatly increases the
number of shadow rays to be calculated, I've thought of one
way that the virtual sources could be implemented with potential
speed improvements.  Perhaps in the definition of the virtual
source, the material names of the sources to be considered
as potential reflects could be named.  Another possibility
might be to somehow "project" all pertinent light sources
onto the plane of the virtural source so that when a virtual
source ray strikes, it already knows which other sources 
would possibly be "in view" of the scene location.

Boy I hope this makes sense.  I put a lot of thought into it
because the project I'm currently working on has many, many
mirrors in it with sources projecting directly onto them. 

Take care,

From greg Tue Apr  2 11:31:14 1991
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 91 11:31:08 +0200
From: greg (Greg Ward)
To: chas@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: Hello Hello!

Hi Chas,

Nice to hear from you again.  Yes, I've had problems with the Macintosh
not writing out its files completely.  Often, I'll compile something
and everything looks OK, no error messages, but when I go to run
the program -- SPLAT!  Jennifer is now set up to make Mac distributions,
so she can get you fresh copies of all the binaries on floppies, or
you can get slightly older binaries from the distribution using:

	tar xf ~greg/ray/dist/ray1R3.1.tar ray/bin.mac
I can also upload the newest and grooviest versions as soon as I
recompile them on the IIfx at home.  (Fortunately, the IIfx doesn't
seem to have the same trouble writing out its files.)  I can probably
upload them as soon as (my) tomorrow.

I don't know what to say about your light source without examining
the files myself.  I assume that you are being careful to put endcaps
on your cylinders, watch the surface normal directions of all surfaces,
and be sure that the antimatter does not intersect the illum sphere.
For a sine surface distribution on the sphere, you can try something like:

	hive_bright = 1+A1*sin(Pz*2*PI);

A1 sets the degree of variation (1 being zero to 2 times the original
brightness), and the scale factor determines the frequency of the variation.

I have thought about various hacks for secondary sources such as those
you suggested, and all have failed my basic tests for inclusion in a

	1.  Must be general enough to be useful.
	2.  Must not be so complicated that it introduces nasty bugs.

Examples of borderline cases for the above tests that I have included
are instances and antimatter.  Both have been real pains in the hiney,
but essential for certain types of models.

I think you see the problem already with secondary sources.  Besides
being very complicated, it is not very general if you treat only
planar mirrors.  Also, what do you do about small mirrors and mirrors
that see each other?  Both cases can lead to an astronomical growth
in the calculation if you do indirect source testing.

Rather than dig into this can of worms, I am going to be trying what
I hope is a more general approach to secondary contributions.  I will
write a separate ray tracing procedure to follow rays from the light
sources and compute secondary source distributions at user-specified
locations.  This approach also has the advantage of not introducing
bugs into a working program.  I don't see how to get away from the
user-specification requirement at this point, since it requires a
fair amount of intelligence to know where the significant sources
of secondary illumination will show up.  However, the user will have
the capability to enclose objects and declare secondary emitting
"volumes" in this way.  Thus, even something as complex as a glass
chandelier could be tagged as a secondary source by enclosing with
a big "illum" and handing it to this other program.

Unfortunately, it will take me some time to implement all of this.
I don't expect to be really finished before the end of my stay
in Switzerland, which may be too late for your particular project.

I don't mind if you send this discussion yourself to the ray list.
If you don't, I will next time I make a digest.  (It's a bit overdue --
I was just waiting to announce 1.4 at the same time.)


Date: Mon, 15 Apr 91 22:58:33 PDT
From: chas@hobbes.lbl.gov (Charles Ehrlich)
To: greg@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: What else can't Radiance do?


I'm excited about your current plans/action to write
a forward ray tracing pre-processor.  I think that it
will greatly enhance Radiance's ability to simulate
more complex lighting schemes.  I  have questions,
however, as to just how general of a solution it is
going to turn out to be.  I also don't like the
fact that it requires an additional time-consuming
step in the ray tracing process.  It seems like
the pre-processor is very well suited for tasks like
modelling light sources with lots of refracting/reflecting
elements, but much less well suited for the kind of
application I described earlier, that of a room with
mirrors on the wall.

My first question is in what ways would the implementation
of a "smart backward ray tracing (SBRT)" solution as I described
before not be a general solution?  I've thought about this
for the last two weeks and could not think of one geometric
scenario in which the SBRT wouldn't work.  Was my presentation
of how it might be implemented clear?

My thoughts about the use of a SBRT in the scenario in question--
a room with mirrors--are that it seems like the SBRT would
be a much more efficient approach to determining secondary
contributions because the secondary source ray already
has a good idea of which sources to do shadow testing of
because it has a "favored direction" as determined by the
angle of incidence with the reflective/refractive surface.  In other
words, only those sources within a defined solid angle around
the incident ray's direction need to be shadow tested.  The 
secondary shadow testing would follow the actual path that 
the light would follow from the source to the originating point
in the scene.   In other words, the convention of doing
shadow testing to the geometric center of a polygonal source would
not prevent other parts of the polygonal secondary source from 
potentially reflecting light onto the originating point in the scene.
The same would hold true for cylinders and spheres as secondary
sources.  A completely different way of thinking about this
whole shadow ray thing is that there is more than one solution
to the equation of the light's path.  The first solution is
the shortest path whereas additional solutions exist where there
are reflective surfaces.

What is the feasibility of implementing the SBRT into
Radiance?  Just a quick guess about the number of additional
lines of code written and/or the percentage of existing
code that would have to be modified would be great.

My second question surrounds the RGB issue?  How much of
a problem is it that not all of "reality" is describeable
with the RGB color model...what percentage of real world
phenomenon are left out?

My thoughts on this one are that if accurate measurements
of a material's color and reflectance are going to be made
with expensive equipment, how much more difficult is it
to extract full-spectrum color reflectance information than
simply RGB?  Specularity?

What is the feasability and usefulness of implementing
new material types that used full-spectrum samplings of
a material's color instead of RGB?  I'm imagining a material
that uses an external data file not unlike the data files
used for illum distrubutions which contain iterpolatable
values at defined intervals along the spectrum.  Again, 
rough estimates of number of lines needed to be written/modified 
would be great.

The next question is an easy one.  What about cylindrical
sources?  You've given me reasons why they don't make sense,
but I continue to hang onto this idea based on an alternate
way of calcuating shadow rays.  The idea is to trace a shadow
ray to the "nearest point" along the centerline of the cylinder
rather than to say the midpoint of the centerline as you've
mentioned to me before as being the "only reasonable way" and
as such, it didn't make sense.  Again, how feasible is this idea?

My last few questions are much more general in nature.  If
you had unlimited funds and desire to make Radiance simulate
"reality" to the "nth" degree, what other things would you
implement?  And, is there a theoretical limit to the greatest
degree of accuracy (with unlimited processing power)
that a ray tracing solution (forward and/or backward) can
acheive?  What is Radiance's theoretical limit?

Yum, yum.  Food for thought.

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 91 14:48:03 +0200
From: greg (Greg Ward)
To: chas@hobbes.lbl.gov
Subject: digesting... digesting... BURP!!

Hi Chas,

Thanks for all of your "food for thought".  I'll do my best to answer
your queries, but I'm not always perfectly clear on your ideas when
I read them.  I think that these discussions would go much easier in
person, but that's not going to be possible for at least a while...

First, the smart backward ray tracing idea.  I'm not sure I understand
this one fully.  I think I get the basic tenet of searching for sources
during the normal ray tracing process, and I think the idea has merit
for large planar mirrors.  As I understand it, you call each mirror a
window into a virtual world, where you again look at each light
source.  The costs would be significant, especially for multiple
reflections in facing mirrors where the calculation could grow 
exponentially.  Using solid angles to limit tests would avoid some
of these costs, but even checking such a list if it's long takes
time.  I don't know how to make the method work for mirrors that have
texture or curvature.  The idea as given here would take a couple hundred
lines of code and a month or more of my time to implement.  I would
be interested to try it if I have the time.

Second, the cylindrical light source question.  I may do something with
this.  Not cylinders specifically, but I think it would be good to
generalize the light source testing procedures to be more forgiving
of geometry.  Also, I would like the calculation to adaptively sample
sources based on their proximity.  For example, nearby sources should
get more samples than a distant source of the same size.  Intensity should
also be used to determine sampling.  I don't see why I couldn't work
shape into such a scheme.  The main problem is complexity in the source
calculation, which should be avoided wherever possible since it is the
most heavily used part of the program next to intersection testing.
It has to be dirt cheap.  That's why I can't currently model cylindrical
sources -- I use a simple extended volume model that can't handle
surfaces with holes in them.  My guess for this one is 200 lines of code
and 5 week's time.  I will very probably tackle this along with the
forward ray tracer, since proper source sampling is critical to the
success of this effort.

I am not sure how well the forward ray tracing preprocessor would
perform in a house of mirrors.  It sort of depends on the source
sampling scheme I use.  If I specified each mirror as a secondary
source (illum), and the output distributions were all highly peaked,
source sampling would critical to obtaining an accurate result.

In general, I beleive the preprocessing time would not add nearly
as much to the rendering time as would be required without it.  This
is the basic precept of creating such a preprocess to begin with.
If it's not going to save time, then it's a mistake to use it.
The forward approach is not that good if the final surface is a
mirror.  For such cases, the SBRT method you suggest sounds better
to me also.

And now for color.  I wish I knew the answer to this question.  Since
I haven't played around with real spectral reflectance data, I can't
really give you an opinion.  It is not that difficult to implement
better spectral sampling in Radiance.  It would only require redefining
the color operations I've built in as macros.  Special programming
would be required in a few spots where the macros weren't used.  I'd
estimate a couple of weeks time.  The main reason I haven't done it is
because I don't have the spectral data.  You should first talk to a student
who has been working with Gary Meyer at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
He's been using Radiance to test various spectral sampling schemes.
He hasn't modified the code, just used multiple runs to increase the number
of spectral samples from 3 to 3*N.  His name is Roy Ramberg and you can
send e-mail to him at ramberg@cs.oregon.edu.  I'd be interested in getting
copies of your correspondance as well.

I have considered separate scaling factors for x, y and z, and decided
that it wasn't worth it.  Implementing all of the resultant surface
types, especially with sorts of skewed slices that would be
left at the end of elliptical cones, is very nasty.  Many months, many
headaches.  Also, you destroy the consistency of the lighting calculation
if you perform non-uniform scaling.  I think that any such operations
should happen before the file is imported to Radiance.  It's too
non-physical for my taste.  In the limited case of fitting doors and
things like that, it's OK, so it might be worth having a special
program called "xfscale" or something similar to do it.  I wouldn't
want to add it directly to xform, though.

I don't know how to answer your general question about what I would
implement or like implemented in Radiance given unlimited resources.
As far as the simulation itself, I can only do what I know to do, what
occurs to me along the way, and what you tell me I should do!  I could
make a long list of shit work that I would like done writing interfaces
to various CAD programs, material and object libraries, image file
formats, and so on.  Mostly, I would like to see completed a nice
front-end that would run Radiance and connect to one or more CAD
systems that could really do a decent job modeling architectural
environments.  Personally, I'm not sure Architrion on the Mac is it,
but it seems like a good place to start.

One theoretical limit to light simulation using ray tracing is its
inability to directly model diffraction and other wave effects.  Ray
tracing simulates light only as far as its particle behavior.  You can
fake wave interactions with surfaces, however, and this is usually where
they are most significant.  At any rate, diffraction is not so important
to lighting.  I would say that modeling polarization would be an
interesting addition to Radiance, and not too difficult to implement.
This has the most effect on multiple specular interactions, although
skylight is also polarized to some degree and this can affect the
amount of light entering windows at different angles.  (Note that small
inaccuracies are generally overwhelmed by the variability of daylight
in general.)

The main practical limitation of ray tracing (or any global illumination
calculation for that matter) is finding all sources of illumination with
a small sample set.  You must figure out where to look, since you can't
duplicate nature's feat of sending trillions of samples into the eye
every second.  In general, it is impossible to guarantee a solution to
within a fixed tolerance.  You can only say that you have some degree
of certainty that your error is not greater than some amount.  There
is no guarantee that you won't miss that solar ray that hit your watch
and bounced off a satellite, blinding some old woman in Leningrad.

Well, it's three o'clock and time to get to work!!!


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