Image-space visibility ordering for cell projection volume rendering of unstructured data

Richard Cook, Nelson Max, Cláudio T. Silva, Peter L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Projection methods for volume rendering unstructured data work by projecting, in visibility order, the polyhedral cells of the mesh onto the image plane, and incrementally compositing each cell's color and opacity into the final image. Normally, such methods require an algorithm to determine a visibility order of the cells. The Meshed Polyhedra Visibility Order (MPVO) algorithm can provide such an order for convex meshes by considering the implications of local ordering relations between cells sharing a common face. However, in nonconvex meshes, one must also consider ordering relations along viewing rays which cross empty space between cells. In order to include these relations, the algorithm described in this paper, the scanning exact meshed polyhedra visibility ordering (SXMPVO) algorithm, scan-converts the exterior faces of the mesh and saves the ray-face intersections in an A-Buffer data structure which is then used for retrieving the extra ordering relations. The image which SXMPVO produces is the same as would be produced by ordering the cells exactly, even though SXMPVO does not compute an exact visibility ordering. This is because the image resolution used for computing the visibility ordering relations is the same as that which is used for the actual volume rendering and we choose our A-Buffer rays at the same sample points that are used to establish a polygon's pixel coverage during hardware scan conversion. Thus, the algorithm is image-space correct. The SXMPVO algorithm has several desirable features; among them are speed, simplicity of implementation, and no extra (i.e., with respect to MPVO) preprocessing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-707
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Unstructured mesh
  • Visibility ordering
  • Volume rendering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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