Well, that was a productive quarter...managed to get grand prize at the 2012 Stanford Rendering Competition! Here was the final render:

The rendering depicts a spaceship emerging from a thick nebula and asteroid field. A sun-like star lights the nebula from behind.

In summary, the primary technical challenge of the rendering was the nebula. The nebula is rendered using full volumetric path tracing, including multiple scattering and wavelength-dependent scattering. This is probably the first time I've ever tried to do something like this without using hacks. I ended up writing a renderer in CUDA specifically for this purpose, so the final render was rather fast considering the complexity of the scene. I was really pleased with the results!

As for the scene geometry, it's all procedural, written in a procedural modeling language that I developed specifically for the project. The language helped me quickly prototype geometric ideas, and was invaluable in exploring the (procedural) possibilities! I'll definitely talk more about the language in time, and I suspect that it will be making frequent appearances in my real-time work.

In the coming days, I'll post some details on the project (and date the posts appropriately), so as to fill in that void of postless time over the past two months!