A Phenomenological Scattering Model
for Order-Independent Transparency

Morgan McGuire, NVIDIA and Williams College
Michael Mara, NVIDIA and Stanford University

Paper (31 MB PDF)
Video results (69 MB MP4)
Video results (YouTube)
Presentation video: MP4 | YouTube
Reference implementation (see also full integration in G3D)
Talk slides


Translucent objects such as fog, smoke, glass, ice, and liquids are pervasive in cinematic environments because they frame scenes in depth and create visually compelling shots. Unfortunately, they are hard to simulate in real-time and have thus previously been rendered poorly compared to opaque surfaces in games.

This paper introduces the first model for a real-time rasterization algorithm that can simultaneously approximate the following transparency phenomena: wavelength-varying ("colored") transmission, translucent colored shadows, caustics, partial coverage, diffusion, and refraction. All render efficiently on modern GPUs by using order-independent draw calls and low bandwidth. We include source code for the transparency and resolve shaders.


Selected Images


  author = {Morgan McGuire and Michael Mara},
  title = {A Phenomenological Scattering Model for Order-Independent Transparency},
  month = {February},
  booktitle = {I3D 2016},
  day = {28},
  year = {2016},
  pages = {10},
  url = {http://graphics.cs.williams.edu/papers/TransparencyI3D16}