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Ray-Casted BlockMaps for Large Urban Models Visualization

P. Cignoni, M. Di Benedetto, F. Ganovelli, E. Gobbetti, F. Marton, R. Scopigno
Visual Computing Laboratory, ISTI-CNR, Italy
Computer Graphics Forum, Vol. 26, No. 3. (September 2007), pp. 405-413

@conference{cignoni2007ray,

   title={Ray-Casted BlockMaps for Large Urban Models Visualization},

   author={Cignoni, P. and Di Benedetto, M. and Ganovelli, F. and Gobbetti, E. and Marton, F. and Scopigno, R.},

   booktitle={Computer Graphics Forum},

   volume={26},

   number={3},

   pages={405–413},

   issn={1467-8659},

   year={2007},

   organization={Wiley Online Library}

}

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We introduce a GPU-friendly technique that efficiently exploits the highly structured nature of urban environments to ensure rendering quality and interactive performance of city exploration tasks. Central to our approach is a novel discrete representation, called BlockMap, for the efficient encoding and rendering of a small set of textured buildings far from the viewer. A BlockMap compactly represents a set of textured vertical prisms with a bounded on-screen footprint. BlockMaps are stored into small fixed size texture chunks and efficiently rendered through GPU raycasting. Blockmaps can be seamlessly integrated into hierarchical data structures for interactive rendering of large textured urban models. We illustrate an efficient output-sensitive framework in which a visibility-aware traversal of the hierarchy renders components close to the viewer with textured polygons and employs BlockMaps for far away geometry. Our approach provides a bounded size far distance representation of cities, naturally scales with the improving shader technology, and outperforms current state of the art approaches. Its efficiency and generality is demonstrated with the interactive exploration of a large textured model of the city of Paris on a commodity graphics platform.
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