# Lab 6: Light

Please put your answers to written questions in this lab, if any, in a Markdown file named `README.md`

in your lab repo.

## Introduction

If you've started `Project 3: Intersect`

, you might already have implemented the first two parts of the raytracing pipeline—**ray generation** and **object intersection**.

This is, of course, not our end goal. What we really want is for our raytracers to be able to produce **realistic images**, which would require rethinking *how we assign colors to pixels*. To that end, we're going to explore the subject of **lighting**: what it is, how it works, and how you can implement it.

### Objectives

- Learn about
**lighting**, especially**lighting models**, - Implement the
**Phong lighting model**, and - Extend it to implement
**other lighting effects**, like reflection.

## Conceptual Context

We will be covering quite a bit of background knowledge in this lab before we can get to any actual tasks. This is important information for both `Project 4: Illuminate`

and `Project 6: Action!`

, which is why we're emphasizing it so heavily. Skim at your own risk!

### What Is Lighting?

**Lighting** is the simulation of how light interacts with objects. It is an essential part of **photorealistic rendering**—the generation of a physically-*plausible* image from a scene.

Unfortunately, accurately simulating light is really hard. Instead, we *approximate* it using simplified **lighting models**, such as the Phong, Cook-Torrance, Minnaert and Oren-Nayer models.

Each lighting model mathematically describes the interactions between objects' **surfaces** and **light**, though they might differ in their **underlying physical bases** and assumptions.

### The Phong Lighting Model

In this lab, and in your raytracer, you will be using the **Phong lighting model**.

#### What It Is

The Phong lighting model is represented by an equation which has three main terms—**ambient**, **diffuse**, and **specular**.

Here is a simplified version of that equation:

And here it is again, as an image:

## Extra: why do we use this lighting model in particular?

We use the Phong illumination model in CS 1230 because it's **conceptually straightforward** and fairly **easy to implement**.

Other models based on more complicated physical phenomena can and *do* provide **more realistic results**, but they also tend to require more understanding to get right, as well as more material parameters.

#### How It Works

The Phong lighting model determines the **output color** of each pixel in your rendered image based on the following **inputs**:

- The
**position**of and**surface normal**at the point of intersection, - The
**material properties**of the intersected**surface/object**, - The
**placement**and**properties**of**light sources**in the scene, and - Other adjustable
**global parameters**, such as the weight for each component of the lighting model.

This output color is effectively the simulated **intensity** of the "light" traveling along a "ray" from the intersection point to the camera.

## But I thought rays shot out *from* the camera, not *towards* it!

It actually doesn't matter which direction you imagine rays "travel", since they're fairly reversible. We usually adopt the view that's most convenient for our use case:

When thinking about light travelling ** from** a light source, hitting a surface, and bouncing

**a camera, it makes more sense to think about the decreasing amount of light as it travels from source to destination. Physically speaking, this interpretation is "more correct".**

*towards*When generating rays, we have to pretend that those rays shoot out **from** the camera. Otherwise, if we instead generated rays starting from light sources, we'd have to generate infinitely many rays and check each one to see they reach our infinitesimally small camera. Needless to say, this is not at all efficient.

Given this, it may seem like raytracing is ** "backwards"**. Well... it sort of

*is*!

Further reading: forward and backward raytracing, bidirectional path tracing.

## Task Context

In this lab, you will complete a single **function** which implements **Phong lighting**: it will produce an **output** RGBA color, given some **input** data.

The above function can be found in ** lightmodel.cpp**. This is the

*only*file you have to modify.

That said, we strongly recommend that you at least take a look at the rest of the stencil, particularly `param.h`

and `main.cpp`

. The former declares global parameters (discussed in a later section), along with some of the data structures you'll be working with, and the latter gives you a broader-picture understanding of what you're implementing.

### It's Always Arrays

In order that you may focus solely on the lighting part of raytracing, you **will not** have to generate rays and obtain intersections. We will provide you with all the necessary data, e.g. intersection position, surface normals, and global parameters.

This data will come in the form of a **2D array of structs (each containing the necessary data)** with height and width equal to the final image we're expecting.

Your function will work at the **pixel level**, and you will use it to map every element in this array to an output RGBA color.

## Spoiler: About the program you're writing...

This function is technically a **shader** program. A shader computes the color of each pixel with given per-pixel data. You'll get to learn more about shaders in lab 10, and you'll use them in Project 6: Action!.

### Global Parameters

On top of this array of data, you'll also need some additional **global parameters** (e.g. weights for lighting model components, and the positions of light sources).

These, too, will be provided to your function in the form of global variables in `param.h`

:

```
float ka; // weight for ambient light
float kd; // weight for diffuse light
float ks; // weight for specular light
float kr; // weight for mirror reflection
float c1; // attenuation coefficient 1
float c2; // attenuation coefficient 2
float c3; // attenuation coefficient 3
```

### A Note On Light Sources

In Project 4: Illuminate, you will be required to support **point lights**, **directional lights**, and **spotlights**. You will also have to implement shadows.

In this lab, however, you will work only with **point lights**, and you will *not* have to implement shadows.

As a reminder, point lights are sources which emit light uniformly

in all directionsfrom a single position.

### Clamping

One last thing!

As you already know, we display our images using the `RGBA`

color format, which is a tuple of four integers, **bounded** in the range `[0,255]`

.

However, there is **no bound** on the color intensity we might obtain from the Phong lighting equation (below), i.e. we could get a value anywhere from zero to **infinity**.

Thus, we must **map** our output color values to something between `0`

and `255`

. Though there are many other ways to do this, here, we've chosen the simplest: **clamping** our output values to the range `[0,x]`

, then scaling them linearly to `[0,255]`

. Purely based on our coefficient selection, it happens that `x = 1`

is a good choice for this purpose.

In the helper function at `src/lightmodel.cpp`

, implement the above clamping operation. This helper function will take a tuple of **three** `float`

values and return a single `RGBA`

struct.

## Extra: we mentioned "other ways to do *this*". What is "*this*"?

"... we must

mapour output intensity values ..."

"This" refers to **tone-mapping**.

It describes the **mapping** of wider set of intensities/colors into a narrower set. Tone-mapping is typically done to convert **high dynamic range (HDR)** images to more limited-range, **24-bit RGB** formats like JPEG or PNG, while **approximating** the appearance of HDR.

Tone mapping is crucial to computer graphics as most rendering methods produce intensity values with high dynamic ranges. In fact, it is even crucial to real-world photography, since there is no (meaningful) bound on light intensity out *there*, either!

## Extra: we mentioned "*other ways* to do this". What are these *other ways*?

Many different methods of tone-mapping exist, each producing images with **unique visual effects**.

Mapping can either be globally-consistent across the whole image (e.g. uniform scaling), or be locally-adaptive, so that overly-bright and overly-dark areas can be shown with minimal loss of detail. Images #3 and #4 below show how a locally-adaptive form of tone-mapping can improve the visual clarity of the final image.

The method of tone-mapping we chose, clamping, is extremely naïve: it *will* cause us to lose information in areas with strong illumination. But, it is very simple, stable, and effective enough for the scope of this lab—if you are interested, you will have the chance to discover more tone mapping techniques later in this course.

## Implementing The Phong Lighting Model

Remember this simplified version of the Phong lighting equation?

Here it is in full!

This is one of the most important equations you'll learn in CS 1230. You are not *really* expected to understand this in full right now, but you will know it like the back of your hand by the end of this course. For now, simply bask in its glory (and complete the next task).

A *very* detailed breakdown of each symbol in the equation is available in the collapsible section below. Using this as reference, answer the following questions:

- Supposing that you wish to output a single RGB color, how many
**times**would you need to perform the above calculation for a given intersection point? - How many
*distinct,***scalar**-valued**material parameters**are necessary for the above RGB color computation(s)? Please list all of them.

Jot these down for your lab checkoff later.

## Click here for a full breakdown of the equation's terms.

Subscript | What It Represents |
---|---|

A given wavelength (either red, green, or blue). | |

A given component of the Phong illumination model (either ambient, diffuse, or specular). | |

A given light source, one of |

Symbol | What It Represents |
---|---|

The intensity of light.E.g. | |

A model parameter used to tweak the relative weights of the Phong lighting model's three terms.E.g. | |

A material property, which you can think of as the material's "amount of color" for a given illumination component.E.g. | |

The total number of light sources in the scene. | |

The surface normal at the point of intersection. | |

The normalized direction from the intersection point to light | |

The reflected light of | |

The normalized direction from the intersection point to the camera. | |

A different material property. This one's called the specular exponent or shininess, and a surface with a higher shininess value will have a narrower specular highlight, i.e. a light reflected on its surface will appear more focused. | |

The attenuation factor. More on this later. |

### The Ambient Term

The first thing to do in implementing Phong lighting will be to add in the **ambient** term. This simply adds some uniform amount of light to everything in the scene, independent of light sources. It is used to *fake* the effect of **indirect lighting**, so as to avoid having to perform expensive simulations of indirect light from rays which bounce multiple times.

In your Phong lighting function, **add the ambient term to the return value**. Refer to the equation above.

### The Diffuse Term

Next, we'll add the **diffuse** term to make surfaces facing light sources appear brighter. This emulates the real-world phenomenon of **Lambertian reflectance** (aka ideal **diffuse reflection**), wherein a surface scatters incident photons uniformly across the hemisphere centered on its normal.

To quantify how much a surface is facing a light source, we use the dot product **surface normal** at the point of intersection and **normalized direction** *from* the intersection point *to* the light source.

**If a surface is facing away from a light source, it should not be lit by that light source**, i.e. it should add

**(not**

*zero**negative*!) intensity to the result.

In your Phong lighting function, **add the diffuse term to the return value**. Refer to the equation above.

- For now,
**ignore attenuation**(setto 1). - Make sure to normalize all your directions.
- Consider how you might determine if a surface is facing away from a light source.
- Remember that you have to sum over
*all*the lights in the scene.

## Extra: what do the sub-terms in the diffuse term mean?

Ignoring attenuation, there is first the product of light intensity, the diffuse coefficient, and the material's diffuse color. This should be easily understood.

Besides that, there is also the dot product

This is based on **Lambert's cosine law**. It was Johann Heinrich Lambert who first introduced the concept of perfect diffusion in his 1760 book on optics, *Photometria*. He had observed that most flat, rough surfaces would reflect light in a way *roughly* proportional to the **cosine** of the angle between their surface normal and the direction toward the incoming light.

Fortunately for us, we can easily and efficiently compute **cosines** using a **dot product of normalized vectors**. Thus, by using the dot product above, we can suggest **diffuse reflectance**.

On finishing this task, you should be able to see the image below.

### The Specular Term

Specular, adj.

Relating to or having the properties of a mirror.

Our third step is to add the **specular** term, which creates a **specular highlight** that makes objects appear shiny or mirror-*like*. This approximates the **specular reflection** of incident light, which peaks in intensity when the reflected light is "close" to the direction of the eye. Again, we use a dot product,

In order to make this specular highlight wider or narrower, we can lower or raise the exponent

In your Phong lighting function, **add the specular term to the return value**. Refer to the equation above.

- Again,
**ignore attenuation**(setto 1). - Make sure to normalize all your directions.
- Remember to consider the case of a surface facing away from a light source.
- Remember that you have to sum over
*all*the lights in the scene.

You will have to calculate *reflections* in this and later tasks. We suggest that you calculate these by hand, and be aware of which way each vector you're using is pointing.

You may use built-in `glm`

functions. However, it will be on you to make sure you get the interfaces right.

On finishing this task, you should be able to see the image below.

### Attenuation

Finally, we get to the **attenuation** factor. In the real world, the intensity of light is usually **diminished with increasing distance from light source** (with the notable exception of collimated light, i.e. *ideal* lasers). For example, the intensity of a point source's light is scaled by a factor of

This is demonstrated in the image below: the objects farthest from the light source are noticeably darker than those closest to it. This effect is not entirely attributable to the differences in angles formed by the light directions, camera directions, and surface normals (refer back to the diffuse and specular terms).

Modify your Phong lighting function to account for attenuation. Use the following, generalized substitution:

Experiment by changing

## Reflection

We can extend the Phong illumination model by adding some other components to make the image look even better.

One interesting and simple extension is mirror reflection, as in the figure below:

We can achieve reflection via recursive raytracing: at each intersection with a reflective surface, we can perform raytracing again from that intersection point in the reflected direction. We then add the color returned by that recursive call to the color of our intersection point, scaled by a reflective material parameter

When you implement your fully-fledged raytracer, you will simulate multiple recursive light bounces using this method. For this lab, you'll implement a simpler version, with:

- Only once bounce of mirror reflection, and
- No actual recursive call to your full raytracing function—instead, we provide a function that tells you what the reflected illumination would be if you were to actually trace the ray.

Calculate the reflected view direction.

Perform 'raytracing' again to get reflected illumination. We provide you with a function `getReflection(source, dir)`

to acquire the reflected illumination.

## End

Congrats on finishing the Lighting lab! Now, it's time to submit your code and get checked off by a TA.

## Submission

Submit your Github repo for this lab to the "Lab 6: Light" assignment on Gradescope, then get checked off by a TA during lab hours.