SS 2.0 h (3 ECTS), 186.101

Károly Zsolnai-Fehér


Registration and course data is available on the TISS site.
Student feedbacks from earlier years are available here.

The whole course is now available in video.

This year, the course will be given remotely. Details will be announced via a TISS message.

Please note that the lecture slides are continually improved. The lectures and website always have precedence over the videos.

Lecture announcements

The exams are going to take place at the end of July and will be announced around mid-July.


  • Semester hours: 2.0
  • Credits: 3.0
  • Type: VU Lecture and Exercise

Aim of the course

This course aims to give an overview of basic and state-of-the-art methods of rendering. Offline methods such as ray and path tracing, photon mapping and many other algorithms are introduced and various refinement are explained.

The basics of the involved physics, such as geometric optics, surface and media interaction with light and camera models are outlined.

The apparatus of Monte Carlo methods is introduced which is heavily used in several algorithms and its refinement in the form of stratified sampling and the Metropolis-Hastings method is explained.

At the end of the course students should be familiar with common techniques in rendering and find their way around the current state-of-the-art of the field. Furthermore the exercises should deepen the attendees' understanding of the basic principles of light transport and enable them to write a simple rendering program themselves.

Subject of the course

  • Rendering theory
    Basic optics, rendering equation, filtering
  • Rendering algorithms
    Ray tracing, radiosity, (bi-directional) path tracing, Metropolis light transport, precomputed radiance transfer, (stochastic progressive) photon mapping, irradiance caching, path space regularization, vertex connection and merging
  • Acceleration techniques
    Spatial hierarchies, sampling strategies,
  • Surface representations
    BRDF models: Lambert, Phong, Oren-Nayar, Cook-Torrance, Ashikhmin-Shirley
  • Participating media
    Scattering, volumetric photon mapping, photon beams
  • Higher dimensional effects
    Motion blur, depth of field
  • Camera models
    Pinhole, Perspective, Orthographic
  • Post processing
    HDR, tone mapping

Subject to refinement.

Additional Information


  • Physically Based Rendering, Third Edition: From Theory To Implementation, M. Pharr and G. Humphreys, Homepage, ACM
    The main book of the lecture (referred to as PBRT).

  • Course on Monte-Carlo Methods in Global Illumination, L. Szirmay-Kalos, Link
    A free course scriptum that gives a detailed explanation of the mathematical foundations of Global Illumination.

Lecture slides

The whole course is now available in video!


There will be 4 assignments throughout the semester.

Example exam questions

The first part of the exam consists of looking through your assignments. Then, the following kinds of questions will be discussed during the exam.
  • Explain how Photon Mapping works and draw an example run of the algorithm. What are the limitations of the algorithm? How do the advanced Photon Mapping variants address them?
  • Classify the main light transport algorithms we studied during the course according to their consistency and bias (biased/unbiased, consistent/inconsistent and why).
  • What is Next Event Estimation and how does it affect the convergence speed on indoors and outdoors scenes for a simple path tracer?
If you have a laptop/tablet with you with the files of your assignments, please bring all of them with you for the exam. In the absence of these devices, please print the assignments. This is mandatory.

You won't be asked any questions about topics that have not been covered by the lecture videos. If you spot any errors anywhere on the slides or in the videos, please write to us!

Historic Course Galleries

Credit goes to Blend Swap and for some of the models, textures and scene parts used in these galleries. We believe that these works are transformative - if you find an image where this is not the case, please let me know so I can try to rectify the situation.

The course galleries for the later years are available below:

Course Galleries from 2017

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Course Galleries from 2016

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Course Galleries from 2015

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Course Galleries from 2014

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Course Galleries from 2013

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