Self Shadow

SIGGRAPH 2015 Course: Physically Based Shading in Theory and Practice

© Disney 2014.

© Disney 2014.

Course Description

Physically based shading is transforming the way we approach production rendering, and simplifying the lives of artists in the process. By adhering to physically based, energy-conserving models, one can easily create realistic materials that maintain their properties under a variety of lighting conditions. In contrast, traditional ad hoc models have required extensive tweaking to achieve the same result. Building upon previous incarnations of the course ([1], [2], [3], [4]), we present further research and practical advice on the subject, from film and game production.


Wednesday, 12 August 9:00am - 12:15pm, Room 403AB

09:00 Introduction
09:05 Physics and Math of Shading (Naty Hoffman) [slides]
09:20 layerlab: A Computational Toolbox for Layered Materials (Wenzel Jakob) [slides] [course notes]
09:40 Approximate Models for Physically Based Rendering (Michał Iwanicki & Angelo Pesce) [slides]
10:00 Real-World Measurements for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Danny Chan) [course notes]
10:30 Break
10:45 Advanced Lighting R&D at Ready At Dawn Studios (David Neubelt & Matt Pettineo) [slides: ppt, pdf]
11:15 Extending the Disney BRDF to a BSDF with Integrated Subsurface Scattering (Brent Burley) [slides: keynote, pdf] [course notes]
11:45 Physically Based Material Modeling at Weta Digital (Luca Fascione)


Stephen Hill is a 3D Technical Lead at Ubisoft Montreal, now specialising in physically based graphics R&D at the studio. Prior to that, he was heavily involved in the creation of a new physically based rendering system and pipeline for Assassin’s Creed Unity. He was also the 3D tech lead on Splinter Cell Conviction, during which he developed novel systems for dynamic ambient occlusion and visibility.

Stephen McAuley is a 3D Technical Lead at Ubisoft, where he recently shipped Far Cry 4. His focus is on physically based lighting and materials, having previously spearheaded the switch to physically based shading on Far Cry 3. Before Ubisoft he worked at Bizarre Creations, where he shipped games such as Blood Stone, Blur and Project Gotham Racing, and developed a system for deferred lighting on the SPUs.


Brent Burley is a Principal Software Engineer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, working on production rendering software. In addition to creating Ptex and the Disney BRDF, he recently oversaw development of Disney’s Hyperion Renderer, a new physically based renderer used on Big Hero 6.

Danny Chan is Lead Graphics Programmer at Sledgehammer Games, where he has contributed to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Previously, he’s worked at Crystal Dynamics (Gex and Gex: Enter the Gecko), Naughty Dog (Lead Programmer on Crash Team Racing), EA (From Russia with Love), Namco (Lead Programmer on Afro Samurai), and on various independent projects under Heroes & Giants.

Luca Fascione is Head of Rendering Research at Weta Digital, where he leads the activity of research around rendering algorithms and material modeling. He joined Weta in 2004 and has also worked for Pixar Animation Studios. The rendering group’s software—including PantaRay and Manuka—has been supporting the realization of large-scale productions such as Avatar, The Adventures of Tintin, the Planet of the Apes films and the Hobbit trilogy.

Michał Iwanicki has been working in the game industry for twelve years. He started in Poland at CD Project RED, working on The Witcher and laying the foundations for the in-house Red engine. Since then, he’s worked on Milo & Kate at Lionhead Studios and The Last Of Us at Naughty Dog, contributing to graphics engine technology. He now serves as a Technical Director at Activision, helping the internal studios as a part of the Central Technology group.

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).

Wenzel Jakob is a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at ETH Zürich in the Institute for Visual Computing. He obtained his PhD in 2013 under the supervision of Dr. Steve Marschner at Cornell University and conducted his undergraduate studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Wenzel’s experience includes research and development work at Disney Research Zürich and Weta Digital, and he is the lead developer of Mitsuba, a research-oriented open source rendering system that has become a popular research platform in rendering and appearance modeling.

David Neubelt has served as a Lead Graphics and Engine programmer at Ready At Dawn Studios since 2005, where he has shipped multiple PSP God of War titles, Daxter, God Of War: Origins Collection for PS3, and The Order: 1886 for PS4. Most recently, he has helped shape RAD’s next-generation engine from its inception, contributing in many areas, including the development of production BRDFs and their 3D material scanning pipeline.

Angelo Pesce started coding computer graphics in his teens within the demoscene. After a few forgettable productions and obtaining a master’s degree in computer science, he left his PhD to start working in the videogame industry. Since then, he has been helping rendering teams on many projects, for companies such as Milestone, Electronic Arts, Capcom and Relic Entertainment. He currently serves as a Technical Director within the Activision Central Technology group.

Matt Pettineo is currently a Lead Graphics and Engine programmer at Ready At Dawn Studios, where he recently finished work on The Order: 1886. His personal blog, The Danger Zone, is home to many articles and code samples that explore various aspects of real-time graphics development. He also co-authored the book Practical Rendering and Computation with Direct3D 11 and contributed to OpenGL Insights.