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Hierarchical Multi-Layer Screen-Space Ray Tracing

In this paper we present a method for fast screen-space ray tracing. Single-layer screen-space ray marching is an established tool in high-performance applications, such as games, where plausible and appealing results are more important than strictly correct ones. However, even in such tightly controlled environments, missing scene information can cause visible artifacts. This can be tackled by keeping multiple layers of screen-space information, but might not be afforable on severely limited time-budgets. Traversal speed of single-layer ray marching is commonly improved by multi-resolution schemes, from sub-sampling to stepping through mip-maps to achieve faster frame rates. We show that by combining these approaches, keeping multiple layers and tracing on multiple resolutions, images of higher quality can be computed rapidly. Figure 1 shows this for two scenes with multi-bounce reflections that would show strong artifacts when using only a single layer.