Computer Graphics is a prolific area of Computer Science that has been researched for more than 50 years. Over this period, crucial algorithms for image processing, visualisation and 3D rendering have emerged that make Computer Graphics in countries like the UK part of everyday life, through for instance, television, personal computers or even car designs. Still, many unsolved problems exist that push Computer Graphics professionals to continue to refine their algorithms further.
One problematic domain is the vast amount of computations usually required (as large datasets are usually involved), should it be an image containing millions of pixels or a 3D scene made of millions of triangles. Even though processors get faster and faster, they are still very far from being able to process advanced Computer Graphics algorithms in real-time, which is why research on new algorithms is so necessary. For instance, (3D) games are becoming increasingly realistic to a point where it is can be hard to differentiate CG images from reality. However, most illumination effects in games are faked, and are not an accurate representation of the physics behind the lighting. To be physically accurate, games would need to rely on a method called ray-tracing, but Graphics hardware conveniently implements a faster method called rasterization that is more suitable to interactive scenes, but also not as flexible as ray-tracing. Recently, some important advances have been made by the Visual Computing group at Swansea University on ray-tracing, which makes it lightweight, competitive, easier to implement, and adapted to dynamic scenes and 3D games in general. A state-of-the-art programming library named DirectTrace has been released (www.directtrace.org).