Fast Re-Rendering of Volume and Surface Graphics by Depth, Color, and Opacity Buffering

A. Bhalerao, H. Pfister, M. Halle, and R. Kikinis.

(Journal of Medical Image Analysis, 2000.)

A method for quickly re-rendering volume data consisting of several distinct materials and intermixed with moving geometry is presented. The technique works by storing depth, color and opacity information, to a given approximation, which facilitates accelerated rendering of fixed views at moderate storage overhead without re-scanning the entire volume. Storage information in the ray direction (what we have called super-z depth buffering), allows rapid transparency and color changes of materials, position changes of sub-objects, dealing explicitly with regions of overlap, and the intermixing or separately rendered geometry. The rendering quality can be traded-off against the relative storage cost and we present an empirical analysis of output error together with typical figures for its storage complexity. The method has been applied to visualization of medical image data for surgical planning and guidance, and presented results include typical clinical data. We discuss the implications of our method for haptic (or tactile) rendering systems, such as for surgical simulation, and present preliminary results of rendering polygonal objects in the volume rendered scene.