The field of volume visualization has undergone rapid development during the past years, both due to advances in suitable computing hardware and due to the increasing availability of large volume datasets. Recent work has focused on increasing the visual realism in Direct Volume Rendering (DVR) by integrating a number of visually plausible but often effect-specific rendering techniques, for instance modeling of light occlusion and depth of field. Besides yielding more attractive renderings, especially the more realistic lighting has a positive effect on perceptual tasks. Although these new rendering techniques yield impressive results, they exhibit limitations in terms of their exibility and their performance. Monte Carlo ray tracing (MCRT), coupled with physically based light transport, is the de-facto standard for synthesizing highly realistic images in the graphics domain, although usually not from volumetric data. Due to the stochastic sampling of MCRT algorithms, numerous effects can be achieved in a relatively straight-forward fashion. For this reason, we have developed a practical framework that applies MCRT techniques also to direct volume rendering (DVR). With this work, we demonstrate that a host of realistic effects, including physically based lighting, can be simulated in a generic and flexible fashion, leading to interactive DVR with improved realism. In the hope that this improved approach to DVR will see more use in practice, we have made available our framework under a permissive open source license.
- CWTS 0.75 <= JFIS < 2.00