Path graphs: iterative path space filtering

ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH Asia 2021)

Published December 14, 2021

Xi Deng, Milos Hasan, Nathan Carr, Zexiang Xu, Steve Marschner

To render higher quality images from the samples generated by path tracing with a low sample count, we propose a novel path reuse approach that processes a fixed collection of paths to iteratively refine and improve radiance estimates throughout the scene. Our method operates on a path graph consisting of the union of the traced paths with additional neighbor edges inserted among clustered nearby vertices. Our approach refines the initial noisy radiance estimates via an aggregation operator, treating vertices within clusters as independent sampling techniques that can be combined using MIS. In a novel step, we also introduce a propagation operator to forward the refined estimates along the paths to successive bounces. We apply the aggregation and propagation operations to the graph iteratively, progressively refining the radiance values, converging to fixed-point radiance estimates with lower variance than the original ones. We also introduce a decorrelation (final gather) step, which uses information already in the graph and is cheap to compute, allowing us to combine the method with standard denoisers. Our approach is lightweight, in the sense that it can be easily plugged into any standard path tracer and neural final image denoiser. Furthermore, it is independent of scene complexity, as the graph size only depends on image resolution and average path depth. We demonstrate that our technique leads to realistic rendering results starting from as low as 1 path per pixel, even in complex indoor scenes dominated by multi-bounce indirect illumination.

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Research Area:  Graphics (2D & 3D)