Low-Complexity Intervisibility in Height Fields



Global illumination systems require intervisibility information between pairs of points in a scene. This visibility problem is computationally complex, and current interactive implementations for dynamic scenes are limited to crude approximations or small amounts of geometry. We present a novel algorithm to determine intervisibility from all points of dynamic height fields as visibility horizons in discrete azimuthal directions. The algorithm determines accurate visibility along each azimuthal direction in time linear in the number of output visibility horizons. This is achieved by using a novel visibility structure we call the convex hull tree. The key feature of our algorithm is its ability to incrementally update the convex hull tree such that at each receiver point only the visible parts of the height field are traversed. This results in low time complexity; compared to previous work, we achieve two orders of magnitude reduction in the number of algorithm iterations and a speedup of 2.4 to 41 on inline imageheight fields, depending on geometric content.