Wojciech Jarosz and team render sand, snow and salt

Be it sand, snow or a bowl of spices, rendering massive aggregations of granular materials is a challenge for animators. A new method developed by researchers from Disney Research, ETH Zurich and Dartmouth's very own Prof. Wojciech Jarosz, proposes a method to handle this problem with unprecedented accuracy and computational efficiency. The technique makes it possible to show fine detail - the varying shapes and colors of grains and glints of light - as well as the smoother appearance that characterizes granular materials when seen at a greater distance. Check out the animated results from the research paper:

"This combination of fine-scale detail and smooth large-scale appearance make these materials visually interesting, but can require exhaustive amounts of computation unless animators employ a few shortcuts," said Wojciech Jarosz, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College and a collaborator on the project. "To account for both of these effects, we took a multi-scale approach -- effectively stitching together different simulation techniques at difference scales, to obtain efficiency while retaining high-fidelity."

The team presented their method at the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia, last week in Macao and several outlets are reporting on the news:

You can find the full technical paper describing the technique at the project page.