The BSDF class represents a collection of BRDFs and BTDFs. Grouping them in this manner allows the rest of the system to work with composite BSDFs directly, rather than having to consider all of the components they may have been built from. Equally important, the BSDF class hides some of the details of shading normals from the rest of the system. Shading normals, either from per-vertex normals in triangle meshes or from bump mapping, can substantially improve the visual richness of rendered scenes, but because they are an ad hoc construct, they are tricky to incorporate into a physically based renderer. The issues that they introduce are handled in the BSDF implementation.
The BSDF constructor takes a SurfaceInteraction object that contains information about the differential geometry at the point on a surface as well as a parameter eta that gives the relative index of refraction over the boundary. For opaque surfaces, eta isn’t used, and a value of one should be provided by the caller. (The default value of one for eta is for just this case.) The constructor computes an orthonormal coordinate system with the shading normal as one of the axes; this coordinate system will be useful for transforming directions to and from the BxDF coordinate system that is described in Figure 8.2. Throughout this section, we will use the convention that denotes the shading normal and the geometric normal (Figure 9.1).
The BSDF implementation stores only a limited number of individual BxDF components. It could easily be extended to allocate more space if more components were given to it, although this isn’t necessary for any of the Material implementations in pbrt thus far, and the current limit of eight is plenty for almost all practical applications.
For other parts of the system that need additional information about the particular BRDFs and BTDFs that are present, a method returns the number of BxDFs stored by the BSDF that match a particular set of BxDFType flags.
The BSDF also has methods that perform transformations to and from the local coordinate system used by BxDFs. Recall that, in this coordinate system, the surface normal is along the axis , the primary tangent is , and the secondary tangent is . The transformation of directions into “shading space” simplifies many of the BxDF implementations in Chapter 8. Given three orthonormal vectors , , and in world space, the matrix that transforms vectors in world space to the local reflection space is
To confirm this yourself, consider, for example, the value of times the surface normal , . Since , , and are all orthonormal, the and components of are zero. Since is normalized, . Thus, , as expected.
In this case, we don’t need to compute the inverse transpose of to transform normals (recall the discussion of transforming normals in Section 2.8.3). Because is an orthonormal matrix (its rows and columns are mutually orthogonal and unit length), its inverse is equal to its transpose, so it is its own inverse transpose already.
The method that takes vectors back from local space to world space transposes to find its inverse before doing the appropriate dot products.
Shading normals can cause a variety of undesirable artifacts in practice (Figure 9.2). Figure 9.2(a) shows a light leak: the geometric normal indicates that and lie on opposite sides of the surface, so if the surface is not transmissive, the light should have no contribution. However, if we directly evaluate the scattering equation, Equation (5.9), about the hemisphere centered around the shading normal, we will incorrectly incorporate the light from . This case demonstrates that can’t just be used as a direct replacement for in rendering computations.
Figure 9.2(b) shows a similar tricky situation: the shading normal indicates that no light should be reflected to the viewer, since it is not in the same hemisphere as the illumination, while the geometric normal indicates that they are in the same hemisphere. Direct use of would cause ugly black spots on the surface where this situation happens.
Fortunately, there is an elegant solution to these problems. When evaluating the BSDF, we can use the geometric normal to decide if we should be evaluating reflection or transmission: if and lie in the same hemisphere with respect to , we evaluate the BRDFs, and otherwise we evaluate the BTDFs. In evaluating the scattering equation, however, the dot product of the normal and the incident direction is still taken with the shading normal rather than the geometric normal.
Now it should be clear why pbrt requires BxDFs to evaluate their values without regard to whether and are in the same or different hemispheres. This convention means that light leaks are avoided, since we will only evaluate the BTDFs for the situation in Figure 9.2(a), giving no reflection for a purely reflective surface. Similarly, black spots are avoided since we will evaluate the BRDFs for the situation in Figure 9.2(b), even though the shading normal would suggest that the directions are in different hemispheres.
Given these conventions, the method that evaluates the BSDF for a given pair of directions follows directly. It starts by transforming the world space direction vectors to local BSDF space and then determines whether it should use the BRDFs or the BTDFs. It then loops over the appropriate set and evaluates the sum of their contributions.
pbrt also provides BSDF methods that return the BSDF’s reflectances. (Recall the definition of reflectance in Section 8.1.1.) The two corresponding methods just loop over the BxDFs and sum the values returned by their BxDF::rho() methods; their straightforward implementations aren’t included here. These methods take arrays of samples for BxDFs for use in Monte Carlo sampling algorithms if needed (recall the BxDF::rho() interface defined in Section 8.1.1, which takes such samples as well.)
9.1.1 BSDF Memory Management
For each ray that intersects geometry in the scene, one or more BSDF objects will be created by the Integrator in the process of computing the radiance carried along the ray. (Integrators that account for multiple interreflections of light will generally create a number of BSDFs along the way.) Each of these BSDFs in turn has a number of BxDFs stored inside it, as created by the Materials at the intersection points.
A naïve implementation would use new and delete to dynamically allocate storage for both the BSDF as well as each of the BxDFs that it holds. Unfortunately, such an approach would be unacceptably inefficient—too much time would be spent in the dynamic memory management routines for a series of small memory allocations. Instead, the implementation here uses a specialized allocation scheme based on the MemoryArena class described in Section A.4.3. A MemoryArena is passed into methods that allocate memory for BSDFs. For example, the SamplerIntegrator::Render() method creates a MemoryArena for each image tile and passes it to the integrators, which in turn pass it to the Material.
For the convenience of code that allocates BSDFs and BxDFs (e.g., the Materials in this chapter), there is a macro that hides some of the messiness of using the memory arena. Instead of using the new operator to allocate those objects like this:
code should instead be written with the ARENA_ALLOC() macro, like this:
where arena is a MemoryArena.
The ARENA_ALLOC() macro uses the placement operator new to run the constructor for the object at the returned memory location.
The BSDF destructor is a private method in order to ensure that it isn’t inadvertently called (e.g., due to an attempt to delete a BSDF). Making the destructor private ensures a compile time error if it is called. Trying to delete memory allocated by the MemoryArena could lead to errors or crashes, since a pointer to the middle of memory managed by the MemoryArena would be passed to the system’s dynamic memory freeing routine.
In turn, an implication of the allocation scheme here is that BSDF and BxDF destructors are never executed. This isn’t a problem for the ones currently implemented in the system.