3D Dynamic Reflection in Windows Phone 7

Some classic ways of simulating Full Dynamic Reflection in Computer Graphics are Spherical Reflection (very low quality with lots of gaps but extremely fast), Dual Paraboloid Reflection Mapping (not so slow but not so beautiful) and Dynamic Cube Mapping (Slow but awesome quality).
In this post i will present a way to implement the Dynamic Cub Mapping Reflection in WP7 using only the built-in shaders provided by XNA.

The technic itself is very simple, we just need to set a cube map as a render target and render the scene in the point of the view of the camera. (this presented idea also works on PC and Xbox without change, but there are more clever ways to achieve the same results in these plataforms).
The only big problem is that XNA and Directx (xna runs in the top of it) uses different “hands” orientation.
DirectX uses a left-handed coordinate system and XNA uses a right-handed coordinate system with:

  • Forward is +Z, backward is -Z. Forward points towards the observer.
  • Right is +X, left is -X. Right points to the right-side of the screen.
  • Up is +Y, down is -Y. Up points to the top of the screen.

Microsoft hided all these differences behind the scenes (almost always we dont even know that it exists), but when rendering to cube map targets we need to be aware and more … we need to perform the conversion by hand …

To render the scene we also need to create a special camera as shown in the code below:

public void RenderSceneToTextureCube(RenderTargetCube renderTargetCube, Color backGroundColor, IWorld world, ref Vector3 objPos, GameTime gt,bool drawComponentsPreDraw = true,bool useCuller = false
            , List objListException = null, float nearPlane = 1, float farPlane = 1000
            Matrix proj = Matrix.CreatePerspectiveFieldOfView(MathHelper.PiOver2, 1, nearPlane, farPlane);
            proj.M33 *= -1;
            proj.M34 *= -1;
            Matrix viewMatrix = new Matrix();
            // Render our cube map, once for each cube face( 6 times ).
            for (int i = 0; i < 6; i++)
                // render the scene to all cubemap faces
                CubeMapFace cubeMapFace = (CubeMapFace)i;

                switch (cubeMapFace)
                    case CubeMapFace.NegativeX:
                            viewMatrix = Matrix.CreateLookAt(objPos, objPos -  Vector3.Left, Vector3.Up);
                    case CubeMapFace.NegativeY:
                            viewMatrix = Matrix.CreateLookAt(objPos, objPos - Vector3.Down,-Vector3.Forward);
                    case CubeMapFace.NegativeZ:
                            viewMatrix = Matrix.CreateLookAt(objPos, objPos + Vector3.Backward, Vector3.Up);
                    case CubeMapFace.PositiveX:
                            viewMatrix = Matrix.CreateLookAt(objPos, objPos - Vector3.Right, Vector3.Up);
                    case CubeMapFace.PositiveY:
                            viewMatrix = Matrix.CreateLookAt(objPos, objPos - Vector3.Up, -Vector3.Backward);
                    case CubeMapFace.PositiveZ:
                            viewMatrix = Matrix.CreateLookAt(objPos, objPos + Vector3.Forward, Vector3.Up);
                // Set the cubemap render target, using the selected face
                SetCubeRenderTarget(renderTargetCube, cubeMapFace);
                RenderSceneWithBasicMaterial(world, gt, objListException, ref viewMatrix, ref proj, drawComponentsPreDraw, useCuller);

The function RenderSceneWithBasicMaterial() just render all the scene objects with the most basic built-in shader. (other variables names are easily understandable, adjust it to your application) (there are some dumb Vector operations like -Vector3.Backward, fix it =P )

With the cube render target created and populated, we just need to pass it to the built in Environment Shader.
I wont put the code here cause it is straightforward.

Remember that you need to call this function (RenderSceneToTextureCube()) in all the frames and it is pretty slow, so be carefull !
Some things to speedup the process are:

  • Create a small Cube Render Target. (Cubemap render target creation code not shown)
  • Render objects in low resolution without effects
  • Do not render everything in all the frames (do magics like rendering only one face of the cubemap each frame ... )

The end result is very cool, but the price paid to render it is huge.
Obs: this obvious works on PC and Xbox also =P

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