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Radiosity

We've thrown together a quick solution with the Light Tracer that looks pretty good. But there are times when we need absolute accuracy, when we want real-world lights and surface reflectance. This is where radiosity rendering comes in. This entire business about light being interreflected around a scene had its start as a tool for thermal engineers. They were concerned mostly with heat reflectance from surfaces, but their equations proved valuable to graphics programmers as well. Since thermal engineers are quite concerned about the relative sizes of things (it takes a lot more energy to heat up an aircraft hangar than it does to heat up a closet), they needed a solution that was size-specific.

Enter the radiosity solution—not only a precise way to visualize bounced light, but also a means of assigning specific characteristics to lights and surfaces. The two aspects go hand in hand. Whereas the Light Tracer is a generalized solution that can be applied to most out door scenes regardless of scale, radiosity requires exact sizing of scene components to a real-world scale. Most radiosity rendering failures happen because this seemingly simple dictum wasn't heeded, so we'll put in a note for those skimming this introduction:


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