We first present the volume-rendering pipeline and the most typical of the existing methods for each pipeline stage. The complexity of each stage in terms of computing time is analyzed for each method. Then the demands and the scope of interactive volume rendering are briefly summarized. Based on this analysis we examine alternate solutions to optimize each pipeline stage in order to allow interactive visualization while maintaining the image quality. The proposed method maximizes interactive manipulation possibilities and minimizes runtimes by sampling at the Nyquist rate and by flexibly trading off quality for performance at any pipeline level. Our approach is suitable for rendering large, scalar, discrete volume fields such as semitransparent clouds (or X-rays) on the fly.
Key wordsVolume rendering Scientific visualization Interactive systems
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