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Voxels and Volumetric Rendering

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If you think of a 3D Grid that contains values from say 0 to 100. Where a value is 100 it is completely solid, where it is 0 it is completely empty space. This is called density grid. Once you have this you need to find the surface of this space and make a 3d mesh from it. Each block in this 3D grid is a voxel. To create a 3d model, for rendering in opengl, from the grid densities you can use a technique called Marching Cubes. The patent has recently expired on it so you can now use it to render any kind of volumetric data you want.

A few places you might like to look for in google would be something like

- Isosurface extraction (or generation)
- Marching Cubes.
- Metaballs
- Fluid dynamics
- Volumetric rendering.

If you search around for those terms you should find some interesting stuff. If I find my list of links I will post them up for you, but I can't seem to find them at the moment.

But here is an example of something you might find (I googled "volumetric rendering marching cubes")

http://www.visualizationlibrary.com/documentation/pagguidemarchingcubes.html

Instead of using marching cubes, to generate a 3d mesh and the render using opengl, you could also just ray cast into the volume and calculate the density for each ray from the screen. Take a look at basic ray tracing and volumetric rendering for this kind of thing.

Hope that helps.

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