Realistic Ray Tracing Hardcover – 23 Jun 2000
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About the Author
Peter Shirley is currently a research scientist at NVIDIA. He is also an adjunct professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah. He has held positions at Indiana University and the Cornell Program of Computer Graphics. R. Keith Morley is Chief Software Engineer at RayScale. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Utah and also studied at Princeton University. He worked as a Senior Software Engineer at Walt Disney Feature Animation on 3D rendering and lighting tools. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
At the back of the book it stated "This book will guide you through the steps of creating your own powerful ray tracer program, ...."
And it does just that.
I love the book. If you're interested in Ray Tracing you should defenitly buy this book. No, it's not THE leading graphics book and I'm sure there might be more detailed and academic resources available, but that doesn't matter.
Peter Shirley succeeds in making something that's normally seen as very difficult a lot easier.
If you've ever programmed in any OO language you should have no problem at all implementing your Ray Tracer. Ok, so there are no pieces of code in the book. That doesn't matter. It stimulates you to be creative. To realy make a program of your own. Something you can be proud of.
Is the math difficult? Well, it can be if you have no experience in lineair algebra. But I would say that it wouldn't be impossible to still understand most of it.
I read at many places that people hated the book because it had a lot of errors. Yes, that's absolutely true. But you can get the errata at Peter Shirley's website. OK, it's not realy great to buy a book that has a lot of mistakes, but when you do, I can asure you you've bought a great little book you're going to love.
Please don't think the book can't be good because it has only about 160 pages. Peter Shirley succeeds in explaining everything you need to know to start building a fairly sophisticated Ray Tracer. Have Fun!!!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book contains only some 150 pages and each technique is thus described in 3 to 10 pages. The language used is clear and the book is very readable. It is very easy to read the whole book or just to pick a specific chapter and get an idea of one topic. The main focus of this book is the implementation of a ray tracer. All techniques are described in a way that enables the reader to easily code them. All the math needed is provided and procedural pseudo code fragments are given in some chapters. Despite being quite a thin book, the selection of topics is very good and most of the important ray tracing techniques are covered.
There are some problems with this book though. First of all, this book does not describe the ray tracing algorithm very well. Readers completely unfamiliar with this method might have some difficulties understanding the overall picture. This is also true for the implementation part. Although a lot of techniques and basics are explained, the author does not cover the implementation of a ray tracing framework.
Some of the chapters are simply too brief. The mathematical background is covered but not explained. In the first chapter, the author introduces 4-dimensional homogeneous coordinate systems without explaining them. This could have been done in 1-2 pages and would have helped to better understand a lot of the transformations used throughout the book. And the chapter about triangle meshes only deals with different approaches to store a triangle mesh. No word about the triangulation process itself.
Overall, this is a lovely book that covers a lot of ray tracing techniques, but is is no introduction to this method.
As I worked through this book, I found this to be anything but the case. Maybe this is my fault; after all I did say it was a somewhat silly notion.
I have found that the assumed knowledge varies widely as you work your way throughout the book, and not just in an easy-to-difficult progression from front to back. I have worked through approximately 3/4ths of this book, and have found it so riddled with errors that I often wonder if the author didn't just submit his first draft as camera-ready to the publisher. Every time I look at a pseudocode algorithm I check the errata page, and almost every time I find that there are errors. One algorithm was so incredibly wrong that rather than try and correct the code in my book with a pencil, I had to print the correct code, cut it out, and tape it over the existing one! After all of this you start to wonder how much you can trust what is being said, which is unfortunate.
The book does have some redeeming value, and if you keep in mind the large number of errors, you can actually learn quite a bit from it. It just annoys me to spend money on a "rough draft" book that could have benefited so much by a little more "proofing" by the author. I would also take with a grain of salt reviews here that are obviously written by people who read the back cover and the introduction with great zeal and formed their summary based on that. If you have not worked your way through a substantial portion of a book, you have no business writing a review of it.
I did like how the book was divided into a basic ray tracer, bells and whistles, and an advanced section. I got some nice results with just the first part. I also took some useful bits and pieces from the second part, and found the discussion about monte carlo methods and antialiasing interesting. I also did some soft shadow work, but supplemented it with a discussion from the Watt/Watt book (Advanced Animation and Rendering Techniques). This would most likely be a decent book for a dabbler new to the field (but having a decent mathematical background), and those taking a ray tracing class.
Ray tracing is particularly well-suited to being broken down conceptually into bite-sized pieces, and this book uses that concept for its organization. Each of the 18 chapters covers a specific aspect of writing a ray tracing program. The writing and illustractions are clear and easy to follow.
There is no source code in this book, but there are a number of pseudo-code listings. The heart of most of the chapters is captured in the math. The essence of ray-tracing is in the details, and the mathematics capture those details precisely.
Though Shirley has boiled down the math to its minimum, the casual reader with no mathematical background will have trouble understanding the advanced portions of this book. If the sight of an integral sign spooks you, then it's probably a good idea to start with a more basic text. The math isn't gratuitous - this is the real, practical nuts-and-bolts stuff that you need to write a mature, modern renderer.
It's also great fun. Ray tracers are the simplest rendering programs to write, and there's nothing like seeing your own code producing beautiful images. There are plenty of references in the bibliography if you want to go further.
If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and implement a state-of-the-art ray-tracer, and are comfortable with basic calculus, this book will serve you as an ideal roadmap and reference.
This book is an adequate introduction to the concepts but I found it sorely lacking when it came to help on implementation.
Also, the book isn't very balanced. Some parts go into too much detail, and others not nearly enough.
I returned this book the day after I received it.
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