Thursday, July 18, 2013

Logarithmic depth buffer optimizations & fixes

An updated logarithmic depth equation (vertex shader):

    //assuming gl_Position was already computed
    gl_Position.z = log2(max(1e-6, 1.0 + gl_Position.w)) * Fcoef - 1.0;

Where Fcoef is a constant or uniform value computed as Fcoef = 2.0 / log2(farplane + 1.0).

Changes (compared to the initial version):
  • using log2 instead of log: in shaders, log function is implemented using the log2 instruction, so it's better to use log2 directly, avoiding an extra multiply
  • clipping issues: for values smaller than or equal to 0 the log function is undefined. In cases when one vertex of the triangle lies further behind the camera (≤ -1), this causes a rejection of the whole triangle even before the triangle is clipped.
    Clamping the value via max(1e-6, 1.0 + gl_Position.w) solves the problem of disappearing long triangles crossing the camera plane.
  • no need to compute depth in camera space: after multiplying with the modelview projection matrix, gl_Position.w component contains the positive depth into the scene, so the above equation is the only thing that has to be added after your normal modelview projection matrix multiply
  • Previously used "C" constant changing the precision distribution was removed, since the precision is normally much higher than necessary, and C=1 works well

To address the issue of the depth not being interpolated in perspectively-correct way, output the following interpolant from the vertex shader:

    //out float flogz;
    flogz = 1.0 + gl_Position.w;

and then in the fragment shader add:

    gl_FragDepth = log2(flogz) * Fcoef_half;

where Fcoef_half = 0.5 * Fcoef

Note that writing fragment depth disables several depth buffer optimizations that may pose problems in scenes with high overdraw. The non-perspective interpolation isn't usually a problem when the geometry is tesselated finely enough, and in Outerra we are using the fragment depth writing only for objects, since the terrain is tesselated quite well.

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