Realistic and Interactive Visualization of High-Density Plant Ecosystems

Andreas Dietrich, Carsten Colditz, Oliver Deussen, and Philipp Slusallek
Proceedings of Eurographics Workshop on Natural Phenomena 2005, pp. 73-81
Dublin, Ireland, August 30, 2005

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Modeling and visualization of natural and realistic outdoor ecosystems like forests or meadows remains a highly challenging task in computer graphics. Convincing and non-artificial scenes require many thousands to millions of plants, each modeled with a high degree of geometric, shading, and lighting detail. At the same time many applications demand interactive rendering at high fidelity. In this paper we demonstrate a ray tracing based approach that does not rely on geometric simplification. Using real-time ray tracing technology, we are able to directly render the highly complex original models with advanced shading and lighting, including pixel-accurate shadows, and even high dynamic range lighting from environment maps. On high-end PCs we obtain interactive performance with reduced quality that quickly converges to high quality in static situations. On clusters of PCs high quality can be sustained even at interactive rates. We demonstrate these results using a highly complex forest model.