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SIGGRAPH 2012 Course: Practical Physically Based Shading in Film and Game Production

Course Description

Physically based shading is becoming of increasing importance to both film and game production. By adhering to physically based, energy-conserving shading models, one can easily create high quality, realistic materials that maintain that quality under a variety of lighting environments. Traditional ad hoc models have required extensive tweaking to achieve the same result, thus it is no surprise that physically based models have increased in popularity in film and game production, particularly as they are often no more difficult to implement or evaluate. After the success of the Physically-Based Shading Models in Film and Game Production course at SIGGRAPH 2010, this new course presents two years of advances in the subject. New research in the area will be covered, as well as more production examples from film and game.

The course begins with a brief introduction into the physics and mathematics of shading, before speakers share examples of how physically based shading models have been used in production. New research is introduced; its practical usage in production explained; then the advantages and disadvantages are discussed. Real-world examples are a particular focus of this year’s course, giving attendees a practical grounding in the subject.


09:00–09:05 Introduction: The Importance of Physically-Based Shading (Stephen Hill) [slides: ppt, pdf]
09:05–09:30 Background: Physics and Math of Shading (Naty Hoffman) [slides] [course notes] [notebook: mathematica, pdf]
09:30–10:00 Calibrating Lighting and Materials in Far Cry 3 (Stephen McAuley) [slides: ppt, pdf] [video] [course notes]
10:00–10:30 Beyond a Simple Physically Based Blinn-Phong Model in Real-Time (Yoshiharu Gotanda) [slides: ppt, pdf] [course notes]
10:30–10:45 Break
10:45–11:15 Physical Production Shaders with OSL (Adam Martinez) [slides] [course notes]
11:15–11:45 Physically-Based Shading at Disney (Brent Burley) [slides: keynote, pdf] [course notes]
11:45–12:15 Reflection Model Design for WALL-E and Up (Brian Smits) [slides: keynote, pdf] [notebook: mathematica, pdf]



Stephen Hill is a 3D Technical Lead at Ubisoft Montreal, where his current focus is on physically based methodologies. He previously held this role on Splinter Cell Conviction, where he helped steer development of the renderer over the entire (five year) development period. During that time, he developed novel systems for dynamic ambient occlusion and visibility.

Stephen McAuley joined Ubisoft in 2011 after spending 5 years at Bizarre Creations, where he worked on games such as Blood Stone, Blur and Project Gotham Racing, focusing on rendering architecture, physically based shading and deferred lighting.


Brent Burley is a Principal Software Engineer at Walt Disney Animation Studios working on production rendering software. Recently he led the development of a new physically based BRDF model now being used in all current productions. Prior to joining Disney in 1996, he worked at Philips Media developing a cross-platform game engine, and also worked on aircraft training simulators at Hughes Training Inc.

Yoshiharu Gotanda is the CEO and CTO of tri-Ace, Inc, which is a game development studio in Japan.

Naty Hoffman is Vice President of Technology at 2K. Previously he was employed at Activision (working on graphics R&D for various titles, including the Call of Duty series), SCEA Santa Monica Studio (coding graphics technology for God of War III), Naughty Dog (developing PS3 first-party libraries), Westwood Studios (leading graphics development on Earth and Beyond) and Intel (driving Pentium pipeline modifications and assisting the SSE / SSE2 instruction set definition).

Adam Martinez is a Shader Writer for Sony Pictures Imageworks and a member of the Shading Department, which oversees all aspects of shader writing and production rendering at Imageworks. He is a pipeline developer, look development artist, and technical support liaison for productions at the studio and he is one of the primary architects of Imageworks’ rendering strategy behind 2012 and Alice In Wonderland.

Brian Smits has worked at Pixar Animation Studios since 2000. He developed the reflection model used for WALL-E and Up. He currently works in the RenderMan group. Before Pixar, he was a research professor at the University of Utah working on rendering. He received his PhD in computer science from Cornell University.