April 2019

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The short version: see all the links for these two books and their related resources on our books page, at the top.

I haven’t seen these books yet – I look forward to doing so. GPU Zen 2 is the next in the series of ShaderX/GPU Pro/GPU Zen books edited by Wolfgang Engel. Sixteen (or seventeen, depending how you count ShaderX2) books since 2002 – amazing. BTW, I maintain a links page for just this series of books.

The Ray Tracer Challenge I don’t know anything about, I just happened upon it – I’ve just ordered one. Two things I like seeing: First, the?YouTube advertisement?reminds me a bit of “Welcome to Night Vale.” Second, if you buy the physical and (DRM-free) eBook together, the bundle is cheaper. This should be the norm. Unfortunately, Amazon’s price is $10 less than the publisher’s, so, much of that savings gets wiped out (though Amazon has just the DRM’ed Kindle version, of course).

Both books are selling well, but neither can outdo the popularity of Plant Based Cookbook for Beginners, #1 in Best Sellers in Rendering & Ray Tracing. (More meaningful is the new releases listing, but that’s not as entertaining.)


I was happy two weeks ago when Apress put Ray Tracing Gems on Kindle for free. I’m happier still today as they now have also put it on Google Play for free. My tweet?– if you RT it will then be an RTRTRT.

What’s a blog entry without an image? A non-waste of bandwidth. So, here’s one from Chapter 26, “Deferred Hybrid Path Tracing,” by?Thomas Willberger, Clemens Musterle, and Stephan Bergmann.

I plunked my $10 down to try out Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders?(SEUS), PTGI E6, for Minecraft. These shaders include ray-tracing, path-tracing, and other effects. They’re not the easiest thing to install: you need Forge, then need OptiFine, then SEUS (but not the old SEUS), and adding something like the Realistico resource pack with high-res normal and specular maps makes it all that much better.

I toured around our ancient (circa 2010-2014) world?and made a short video?of the results. Here’s an album showing some of the effects (and some of the limitations).

Overall I love the look – it adds a solidity and realism to the world. That said, it’s a bit difficult to see while underground vs. vanilla Minecraft. OptiFine has a “have the torch in hand illuminate the area” which SEUS doesn’t support, so dark areas are, by default, quite dark indeed. So, great for touring around, more challenging if building underground.

Here’s a shot with bump and specular maps, some reflection of the environment, and ripples from rain. If you just can’t get enough, here’s a way-too-large album I made mostly for our players.

Chris Wyman pointed out this entertaining Amazon world-view:

Wow, cool, we’re #1 for DirectX books, and the book’s not actually shipping yet (the second printing should come out in May, with little fixes). Click on that “DirectX Software Programming” link and you can see the competition we beat out:

Yes! We displaced?that best-selling book on DirectX programming, the classic Air Fryer Cookbook.

Update: sadly, the next day we fell to #2. That cookbook is an unstoppable computer programming guide, as it’s also #1?in many other programming book categories, such as for?OpenGL,?Java server pages,?Cold Fusion, and?XSL, not to forget?CAD software control. That said, sous vide cooking controls PHP programming, classic authors top Ruby programming books, and, appropriately, the Harry Potter Coloring Math Book controls Flash programming, beating out books on machine trading, Excel, Javascript, Adobe Animate CC – aha, at #15 there is actually a book about Flash.

Clearing through a Google Doc, I found a number of links stored away for a rainy day. It’s raining, so here goes:

So you know, Andrew Glassner rewrote sections 2.6 and 2.7 of “An Introduction to Ray Tracing” last week and inserted it into the free PDF of the book. Info here. It’s the longest duration I know for an erratum – the book was first published in 1989, the error was reported this year.

First,?Ray Tracing Gems is now available on Kindle?for free; it’s also free through the UK and Germany?Amazon sites. Great stuff, and I’ve asked about whether it could also be made available on Google Play in some form.

When?Real-Time Rendering, 4th Edition came out I decided to plunk down the cash to get the Kindle and Google Play versions, just to see how they came out. Not bad: the resolution is not as high as I’d like for a few images, but overall the results are good. It’s understandable why the image quality was not up to the 300+ DPI of some of the original material, as the book’s file would be massively larger.

What’s of interest is how much more often I’ll use the Google Play version than the Kindle. I’ll even use it more than my own private PDF of the book. This is because it’s one click away: I have the URL bookmarked for the Google Play version, so it’s up immediately, no messing about looking for the file, loading an app, or any other nonsense.

For example, today I just tried Amazon’s cloud reader for Kindle, but I run into “License limit reached,” that I have exceeded the number of devices authorized blah blah blah. My favorite line of the warning is “You may also purchase another copy from the Kindle Store” – great, thanks. There’s none of this annoyance with Google Play; I can immediately read the book since it’s tied to my Google Account. I hope Amazon someday figures out a way to determine that I’m me (judging from the targeted ads I see on Amazon, they already have, but they haven’t extended the courtesy to Kindle access).

BTW, anyone trying to reproduce antialiasing or noise images in a book or printed article, be careful: you’ll probably want to zoom in on parts of your image, and want to make the zoomed image literally zoomed up using “nearest neighbor” filtering or similar. That is, say you select a 200×200 piece of an image to magnify, to show noise. I’d resize this to 600×600 and just replicate the pixels, “select and repeat” (often called “nearest neighbor” or “hold” or “pixel replication”). The printing process will naturally try to smooth images out the other direction, so you usually need to counteract this. If you have any sure-fire tips on doing this better than I’ve described here, I (and others) are all ears.

Update: due to Apress’s kind efforts, the book’s now free on Google Play.

I saw this work at the New Orleans Museum of Art – tres ray tracing. See if you can figure out why it looks how it does, from these images and film clip. Last image in album is the reveal.