GPU-based Fast Ray Casting for a Large Number of Metaballs

Yoshihiro Kanamori, Zoltan Szego, Tomoyuki Nishita
The University of Tokyo, Japan
Computer Graphics Forum, Vol. 27, No. 2. (April 2008), pp. 351-360


   title={GPU-based Fast Ray Casting for a Large Number of Metaballs},

   author={Kanamori, Y. and Szego, Z. and Nishita, T.},

   booktitle={Computer Graphics Forum},






   organization={Wiley Online Library}


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Metaballs are implicit surfaces widely used to model curved objects, represented by the isosurface of a density field defined by a set of points. Recently, the results of particle-based simulations have been often visualized using a large number of metaballs, however, such visualizations have high rendering costs. In this paper we propose a fast technique for rendering metaballs on the GPU. Instead of using polygonization, the isosurface is directly evaluated in a per-pixel manner. For such evaluation, all metaballs contributing to the isosurface need to be extracted along each viewing ray, on the limited memory of GPUs. We handle this by keeping a list of metaballs contributing to the isosurface and efficiently update it. Our method neither requires expensive precomputation nor acceleration data structures often used in existing ray tracing techniques. With several optimizations, we can display a large number of moving metaballs quickly.
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