“V-buffer: visible volume rendering” by Upson and Keeler

  • ©Craig Upson and Michael (Mike) Keeler




    V-buffer: visible volume rendering



    This paper presents rendering techniques that use volumes as the basic geometric primitives. It defines data structures composed of numerous subvolumes, in excess of 100,000. Over each subvolume, a scalar field describes the variation of some physical quantity. The two rendering methods described herein assume a trilinear variation of this scalar field within each volume element, unlike voxel-based techniques that assume a constant value for each subvolume. The result is a higher order approximation of the structures within the volume. In addition, solid texture mapping, atmospheric attenuation, and transfer functions relating the dynamic range of the scalar field to color and opacity are used to isolate important data features. The result is a new method for the visualization of three-dimensional data resulting from numerical simulations and observations of natural phenomena. This method continuously covers the gap between surface-based and voxel-based techniques.


    1. Artzy, E., Frieder, G., Herman, G., “The Theory, Design, Implementation and Evaluation of a Three-Dimensional Surface Detection Algorithm”, Computer Graphics and Image Processing, Vol 15, No 1, Jan. 1981, p. 1-24.
    2. Bergman, L., Fuchs, H., Grant, E., “Image Rendering by Adaptive Refinement”, Computer Graphics, Vol 20, No 4, Aug. 1986, p. 29-37
    3. Chen, L., Herman, G., Reynolds, R., Udupa, J., “Surface Shading in the Cuberille Environment”, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Vol 5, No 12, Dec. 1985, p. 33-43.
    4. Christiansen, H., Sederberg. T., “Conversion of Complex Contour Line Definitions into Polygonal Element Mosaics”, Computer Graphics, Vol 12, No 3, 1978, p. 187-192.
    5. Christiansen, H., Stephenson, M., Nay, B., Grimsrud, A., “Movie.BYU Training Text”, Graphics Utah Style, Provo, Utah, 1987.
    6. Cook, L., Dwyer, S., Batnitzky, S., Lee, K., “A Three-Dimensional Display System for Diagnostic Imaging Applications”, IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications, Vol 3, No 5, Aug. 1983. p. 13-19.
    7. Cook, R., Porter, T., Carpenter, L., “Distributed Ray Tracing”, Computer Graphics, Vol 18, No 3, 1984, p. 137-145.
    8. Fuchs, H., Kedem, Z., Uselton, S., “Optimal Surface Reconstruction from Planar Contours”, CACM, Vol 20, 1977, p.693-712.
    9. Hall, R., “A Characterization of Illumination Models and Shading Techniques”, Visual Computer, Vol 2, No 5,1986, p. 268-277.
    10. Herman, G., Lui, H., “Three-Dimensional Display of Human Organs from Computed Tomograms”, Computer Graphics and Image Processing, Vol 9, No 1, Jan.1979, p. 1-21.
    11. Kajiya, J., Von Herzen, B., “Ray Tracing Volume Densities”, Computer Graphics, Vol lg, No 3, 1984, p. 165-173.
    12. Keppel, E., “Approximating Complex Surfaces by Triangulation of Contour Lines”, IBM J. Res. Development, Vol. 19, 1975, p.1-21.
    13. Lee, M., Redner, R., Usetton, S., “Statistically Optimized Sampling for Distributed Ray Tracing”, Computer Graphics, Vol 19, No 3, 1985, p. 61-67.
    14. Lorensen, W., Cline, H,, “Marching Cubes: A High Resolution 3D Surface Construction Algorithm”, Computer Graphics, Vol 21, No 4, 1987, p. 163-169.
    15. Peachey, D., “Solid Texturing of Complex Surfaces”, Computer Graphics, Vol 19, No 3, 1985, p. 279-286.
    16. PIXAR, “ChapVolumes Volume Rendering Package, Technical Summary”, July, 1987.
    17. Press, W., Flannery, B., Teukolsky, S., Vettering, W., “Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing”, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986.
    18. Upson, C., “The Visual Simulation of Amorphous Phenomena”, Visual Computer, Vol 2, No5, 1986, p.321-326.
    19. Watts, A., “Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown; A Mountain Journal”, Pantheon, New York, 1973.
    20. Wright, T., “A One-pass Hidden-line Remover for Computer Drawn Three-Space Objects”, Proc. 1972 Summer Computer Simulation Conference, 1972, p.261-267.
    21. Yost J., “Computational Fluid Dynamics for Realistic Image Synthesis”, M.S. Thesis, University of Utah, Dept of Computer Science, August 1987

ACM Digital Library Publication:

Overview Page: