Pseudo-marginal Metropolis Light Transport

Joel Kronander, Thomas B. Schön, Jonas Unger
Proceedings of SIGGRAPH ASIA Technical Briefs - 2015
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Accurate and efficient simulation of light transport in heterogeneous participating media, such as smoke, clouds and fire, plays a key role in the synthesis of visually interesting renderings for e.g. visual effects, computer games and product visualization. However, rendering of scenes with heterogenous participating with Metropolis light transport (MLT) algorithms have previously been limited to using biased approximations of the transmittance in the scene. This paper presents a new sampling strategy for Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, e.g. MLT, based on pseudo-marginal MCMC. Specifically, we show that any positive and unbiased estimator of the target distribution can replace the exact quantity to simulate a Markov Chain with a stationary distribution that has a marginal which is the exact target distribution of interest. This enables us to evaluate the transmittance function with recent unbiased estimators which leads to significantly shorter rendering times. Compared to previous work, relying on (biased) ray-marching for evaluating transmittance, our method enables simulation of longer Markov chains, a better exploration of the path space, and consequently less image noise, for a given computational budget. To demonstrate the usefulness of our pseudo-marginal approach, we compare it to representative methods for efficient rendering of anisotropic heterogeneous participating media and glossy transfer. We show that it performs significantly better in terms of image noise and rendering times compared to previous techniques. Our method is robust, and can easily be implemented in a modern renderer.

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@Article\{KBU15,
  author       = "Kronander, Joel and B. Schön, Thomas and Unger, Jonas",
  title        = "Pseudo-marginal Metropolis Light Transport",
  journal      = "Proceedings of SIGGRAPH ASIA Technical Briefs",
  year         = "2015"
}

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