Tessellation-Free Displacement Mapping for Ray Tracing

SIGGRAPH Asia 2021

Published December 14, 2021

Théo Thonat, François Beaune, Xin Sun, Nathan Carr, Tamy Boubekeur

Displacement mapping is a powerful mechanism for adding fine to medium geometric details over a 3D surface using a 2D map encoding them. While GPU rasterization supports it through the hardware tessellation unit, ray tracing surface meshes textured with high quality displacement requires a significant amount of memory. More precisely, the input surface needs to be pre-tessellated at the displacement map resolution before being enriched with its mandatory acceleration data structure. Consequently, designing displacement maps interactively while enjoying a full physically-based rendering is often impossible, as simply tiling multiple times the map quickly saturates the graphics memory. In this work we introduce a new tessellation-free displacement mapping approach for ray tracing. Our key insight is to decouple the displacement from its base domain by mapping a displacement-specific acceleration structures directly on the mesh. As a result, our method shows low memory footprint and fast high resolution displacement rendering, making interactive displacement editing possible.

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Research Area:  Graphics (2D & 3D)