In the writing of the new edition of Marschner's and my graphics text, we tried to add more "basics" on light and material interaction (I don't mean BRDF stuff-- I mean more dielectrics) and more on brute force simulation of light transport. In the "how would you maximally brute force a ray tracer) we wrote this:
Basically, it's just a path tracer run with *only* smooth dielectrics and Beer's Law. If you model a scene with all the microgeometry and allow some of it to absorb, you can get colored paint with a rough surface. Here is an few figures from my thesis (and it was an old idea then!):
Doing the brute force path tracing is slow and dealing with the micro-particles is slow, so we invent BRDFs and other bulk properties, but that is all for efficiency. When we wrote this, which is a classic treatment people use in the classroom all the time, we were thinking it was just for education and for reference solutions (like Eugene d'Eon has done for skin for example), but since Monte Carlo path tracing is almost infinitely parallel, why not do this on a huge crowd sourced network of computers (in the spirit folding@home)?
I am thinking for images of ordinary things whose microgeometry would be easy to model. For example a lamp shade with a white lining:
Another example of something very complex visually that might be modeled procedurally (https://iswallquality.blogspot.com/2016/07/fresh-snow-close-up-wallpaper-hd.html):
Or a glass of beer or... (on and on).
So what would be needed:
- some base path tracer with a procedural model we could all install and run
- some centralized job coordination server that doled out random seeds and combined results
- an army of nerds willing to do this with idle cycles rather than coin mining
I don't have the systems chops to know how to best do this. Anyone? I will take the discussion to twitter!