New Pixel Filter Type: Blackman-Harris

A new type of pixel filter called “Blackman-Harris” has been added to Cycles by Lukas Stockner to compliment the existing Gaussian and Box filters.

From the commit:

This commit adds the Blackman-Harris windows function as a pixel filter to Cycles. On some cases, such as wireframes or high-frequency textures, Blackman-Harris can give subtle but noticable improvements over the Gaussian window.

See also: The initial patch with some discussions.

What is a pixel filter you ask? As I understand it, it’s basically the function used to apply anti-aliasing in your render. Different filters use slightly different math and methods to calculate how each pixel appears relative to its neighboring pixels, which makes edges look smoother.

The difference between the three types is most noticable on thin details like wires:

Box looks pretty crap, but the other two filters are very similar. If you open the links in the caption in different tabs and flick between them, you’ll see that Blackman-Harris is slightly smoother.

In a more practical example, the difference between them is even harder to notice:

The new filter is a little softer in the lower right corner, which I’m not sure is actually a good thing. Perhaps we can just concede to be happy that we have more options to play with, even if the benefits are not immediately obvious :)

In any case, it seems like the Box filter gives pretty crappy results all round. Does anyone have an idea where Box would actually be useful?


3 thoughts on “New Pixel Filter Type: Blackman-Harris

  1. Hey Greg, I think softening is great but in the last example both Box and Blackman-Harris don’t look too good. Nevertheless, it’s cool that we now have more ways.

  2. Box filters are useful for pixel art

  3. I’ve used box sometimes with animation when rendering speed is slightly more important and where the details get lost in the encoding process anyway.