Interactive Lighting Simulation
for Theatrical Lighting Design
Alissa Feldman and Matt Gruskin
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Norman Badler

Theatrical lighting design is a discipline which benefits greatly from interactive computer-based tools - yet existing software intended for lighting designers has many deficiencies in the way that users interact with the software, and could also use improvement in image rendering speed and quality. Our goal was to create practical and useful lighting simulation software with a focus on accurate, interactive user feedback.

Our software allows the user to import 3D models and material data from external 3D modeling software, and then gives the user extensive control over how these 3D models are lit using simulations of theatrical lighting instruments. By using a combination of hardware-accelerated GPU-based rendering, parameterized radiosity rendering, and raytraced rendering techniques for different tasks, we achieve a more interactive user experience than is provided by other similar software.

A parameterized radiosity rendering.

Our light focusing user interface uses standard OpenGL lighting to provide inaccurate but real-time feedback of the effects of light position, focus and color. In addition, we implemented a new relighting-optimized radiosity renderer of our own design, which provides fairly accurate and highly interactive feedback to changes in lighting instrument intensity and color. Our software also provides very high quality non-real-time renders using Radiance to produce very accurate images of how a lighting design would appear in the real world.