Developed in 2012 as an interactive lighting renderer for Walking With Dinosaurs, Glimpse was brought to full production usage in 2013 for The LEGO Movie and has been used as the primary renderer on every project we’ve made since then. Glimpse is a unidirectional path tracer that is still being actively developed, with new features and capabilities being constantly added.
The initial version of Glimpse could only do grey-shaded models with area lights and full ray tracing, which made it a great preparation tool as it allowed the lighting artists to quickly view what the final lighting would look like when all the texturing and other elements were finally added. By late 2012, a new version was finished that started to be used to help deliver actual shots, but not as the final renderer.
The next iteration used ray acceleration in PRMan with a Glimpse plugin, which was called the FrankenGlimpse! This hybrid solution loaded PRMan and Glimpse in the same process and then used an elaborate mechanism for sharing data between them, allowing the team to write shading operators which could call ray tracing operations in Glimpse and give faster results.
By late 2013, Glimpse had increased in complexity to the point that it could be used for final renders in the remaining handful of shots in The LEGO Movie.
The original SSS in Glimpse was a standard dipole model (2013), later in the 2014 revision, when the team decided on the need for a higher fidelity SSS, the team added a Jensen single scatter approach. They explored directional dipole models but decided on a single scatter solution, as getting a more accurate single scatter component was easier.
Once the team had committed to turning Glimpse into a full production renderer, they set to filling out the specifications; following the shading system, they addressed volumetric shading, curve rendering (used for hair and fur) and adding other more general extensions.
The team moved to a concept of Render Everywhere, with the goal of making Glimpse the one unified renderer to be used everywhere inside the company.
DIGIPRO 2022: ASH A Case For Layered Shading
SIGGRAPH 2021: Spectral Imaging in Production
SIGGRAPH 2019: Path Tracing in Production – Part 2: Making Movies
SIGGRAPH 2018: Path Tracing in Production – Part 1: Production Renderers
SIGGRAPH 2017: Evolving Complexity Management on The LEGO Batman Movie
SIGGRAPH 2017: Rendering the Darkness: Glimpse on The LEGO Batman Movie