Isosurface modelling of soft objects in computer graphics
There are many different modelling techniques used in computer graphics to describe a wide range of objects and phenomena. In this thesis, details of research into the isosurface modelling technique are presented. The isosurface technique is used in conjunction with more traditional modelling techniques to describe the objects needed in the different scenes of an animation. The isosurface modelling technique allows the description and animation of objects that would be extremely difficult, or impossible to describe using other methods. The objects suitable for description using isosurface modelling are soft objects. Soft objects merge elegantly with each other, pull apart, bubble, ripple and exhibit a variety of other effects. The representation was studied in three phases of a computer animation project: modelling of the objects; animation of the objects; and the production of the images. The research clarifies and presents many algorithms needed to implement the isosurface representation in an animation system. The creation of a hierarchical computer graphics animation system implementing the isosurface representation is described. The scalar fields defining the isosurfaces are represented using a scalar field description language, created as part of this research, which is automatically generated from the hierarchical description of the scene. This language has many techniques for combining and building the scalar field from a variety of components. Surface attributes of the objects are specified within the graphics system. Techniques are described which allow the handling of these attributes along with the scalar field calculation. Many animation techniques specific to the isosurface representation are presented. By the conclusion of the research, a graphics system was created which elegantly handles the isosurface representation in a wide variety of animation situations. This thesis establishes that isosurface modelling of soft objects is a powerful and useful technique which has wide application in the computer graphics community.