A hybrid representation for modeling, interactive editing, and real-time visualization of terrains with volumetric features

2014-09-29T11:32:32Z (GMT) by Çetin Koca Uğur Güdükbay
<div><p>Terrain rendering is a crucial part of many real-time applications. The easiest way to process and visualize terrain data in real time is to constrain the terrain model in several ways. This decreases the amount of data to be processed and the amount of processing power needed, but at the cost of expressivity and the ability to create complex terrains. The most popular terrain representation is a regular 2D grid, where the vertices are displaced in a third dimension by a displacement map, called a heightmap. This is the simplest way to represent terrain, and although it allows fast processing, it cannot model terrains with volumetric features. Volumetric approaches sample the 3D space by subdividing it into a 3D grid and represent the terrain as occupied voxels. They can represent volumetric features but they require computationally intensive algorithms for rendering, and their memory requirements are high. We propose a novel representation that combines the voxel and heightmap approaches, and is expressive enough to allow creating terrains with caves, overhangs, cliffs, and arches, and efficient enough to allow terrain editing, deformations, and rendering in real time.</p></div>