Clustered principal components for precomputed radiance transfer

Peter Pike Sloan, Jesse Hall, John Hart, John Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


We compress storage and accelerate performance of precomputed radiance transfer (PRT), which captures the way an object shadows, scatters, and reflects light. PRT records over many surface points a transfer matrix. At run-time, this matrix transforms a vector of spherical harmonic coefficients representing distant, low-frequency source lighting into exiting radiance. Per-point transfer matrices form a high-dimensional surface signal that we compress using clustered principal component analysis (CPCA), which partitions many samples into fewer clusters each approximating the signal as an affine subspace. CPCA thus reduces the high-dimensional transfer signal to a low-dimensional set of perpoint weights on a per-cluster set of representative matrices. Rather than computing a weighted sum of representatives and applying this result to the lighting, we apply the representatives to the lighting per-cluster (on the CPU) and weight these results perpoint (on the GPU). Since the output of the matrix is lower-dimensional than the matrix itself, this reduces computation. We also increase the accuracy of encoded radiance functions with a new least-squares optimal projection of spherical harmonics onto the hemisphere. We describe an implementation on graphics hardware that performs real-time rendering of glossy objects with dynamic self-shadowing and interreflection without fixing the view or light as in previous work. Our approach also allows significantly increased lighting frequency when rendering diffuse objects and includes subsurface scattering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-391
Number of pages10
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003
EventACM SIGGRAPH 2003 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Jul 27 2003Jul 31 2003


  • Graphics Hardware
  • Illumination
  • Monte Carlo Techniques
  • Rendering
  • Shadow Algorithms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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