Instance Property


Data containing spherical harmonics coefficients that describe the light’s intensity in all directions.


var sphericalHarmonicsCoefficients: Data? { get }


Spherical harmonic coefficients describe the distribution of light around a light source with less high-frequency detail than a cube map texture, but they can be used more efficiently in real-time rendering. Use the generateSphericalHarmonics(fromLight:) method to create spherical harmonics data based on the light’s photometry data.

The data is an array of 32-bit floating-point values, containing three noninterleaved data sets corresponding to the red, green, and blue sets of coefficients. The array’s length is determined by the sphericalHarmonicsLevel property:

  • At level 0, the array has 1 coefficient (3 values).

  • At level 1, the array has 4 coefficients (3 sets of 4 values, 12 values total).

  • At level 2, the array has 9 coefficients (3 sets of 9 values, 27 values total).

  • At level 3, the array has 16 coefficients (3 sets of 16 values, 48 values total).

  • Spherical harmonics levels beyond 3 are not supported.

For example, the code below shows how to access the second coefficient at level 2. (Note, however, that typically a renderer passes the entire data buffer to a GPU-based shader and uses equivalent shader code to extract individual coefficients.)

func numberOfCoefficients(at level: Int) -> Int {
    return (level + 1) * (level + 1)
func offsetForLevel(_ level: Int) -> Int {
    return numberOfCoefficients(at: level - 1) - 1
guard let coeffs = light.sphericalHarmonicsCoefficients
    else { fatalError("light does not have spherical harmonics") }
let totalCount = numberOfCoefficients(at: light.sphericalHarmonicsLevel)
let offset = offsetForLevel(2) // level 2 has three sets of coefficients, at indexes 3...5
let index = 1 // get the second of 3 coefficients on level 2 (zero-based index)
coeffs.withUnsafeBytes { (bytes: UnsafePointer<Float>) -> () in
    let red = bytes[offset + index]
    let green = bytes[totalCount + offset + index]
    let blue = bytes[totalCount * 2 + offset + index]

See Also

Interpreting the Light Web as Spherical Harmonics

func generateSphericalHarmonics(fromLight: Int)

Generates spherical harmonics information based on the light’s photometry data.

var sphericalHarmonicsLevel: Int

The number of levels of generated spherical harmonics information.