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Special Relativistic Visualization by Local Ray Tracing

Thomas Muller, Sebastian Grottel, Daniel Weiskopf
Visualization Research Center (VISUS), University of Stuttgart, Allmandring 19, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2010

@article{muller2010special,

   title={Special Relativistic Visualization by Local Ray Tracing},

   author={Muller, T. and Grottel, S. and Weiskopf, D.},

   journal={Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on},

   volume={16},

   number={6},

   pages={1243–1250},

   year={2010},

   publisher={IEEE}

}

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Special relativistic visualization offers the possibility of experiencing the optical effects of traveling near the speed of light, including apparent geometric distortions as well as Doppler and searchlight effects. Early high-quality computer graphics images of relativistic scenes were created using offline, computationally expensive CPU-side 4D ray tracing. Alternate approaches such as image-based rendering and polygon-distortion methods are able to achieve interactivity, but exhibit inferior visual quality due to sampling artifacts. In this paper, we introduce a hybrid rendering technique based on polygon distortion and local ray tracing that facilitates interactive high-quality visualization of multiple objects moving at relativistic speeds in arbitrary directions. The method starts by calculating tight image-space footprints for the apparent triangles of the 3D scene objects. The final image is generated using a single image-space ray tracing step incorporating Doppler and searchlight effects. Our implementation uses GPU shader programming and hardware texture filtering to achieve high rendering speed.
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