Procedural generation and interactive web visualization of natural environments

Benny Onrust, Rafael Bidarra, Robert Rooseboom, Johan van de Koppel
Proceedings of Web3D - 20th ACM Conference on 3D Web Technology, page 133-141 - jun 2015
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Interactive 3D visualization of natural environments can help ecologists, policy makers and the broad public in general to better understand, promote and protect both existing and developing environments. The creation and exploration of virtual worlds can be very helpful for this purpose. However, current techniques are neither able to generate sound natural environments from ecological data nor do they provide web-based visualizations at interactive rates of such detailed ecological systems. In this paper, we approach the challenge of developing and interactively visualizing in real time ecologically accurate and visually convincing models of complex natural environments over the web. For this, we propose a framework that (i) is able to combine landscape maps and ecological statistical data, translating them to an ecologically sound plant distribution, and (ii) creates a detailed 3D representation of the natural environment and provides for its fully interactive visualization in real-time over the web. The main contribution of our research consists of the real-time web-based visualization of complete and visually convincing natural environments with their high density and variability of individual organisms. The vegetation model combines and improves techniques from procedural ecosystem generation and neutral landscape modeling. It is able to generate diverse ecological sound plant distribution directly from landscape maps with statistics about coverage and patchiness of plant species. The visualization model uses several existing level-of-detail and illumination techniques to achieve interactive frame rates and improve realism. From the validation of the results with ecology experts we conclude that our framework provides very convincing interactive visualizations of large virtual natural environments.

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BibTex references

@InProceedings { OBRK15,
  author       = "Onrust, Benny and Bidarra, Rafael and Rooseboom, Robert and Koppel, Johan van de",
  title        = "Procedural generation and interactive web visualization of natural environments",
  booktitle    = "Proceedings of Web3D - 20th ACM Conference on 3D Web Technology",
  pages        = "133-141",
  month        = "jun",
  year         = "2015",
  note         = "doi: 10.1145/2775292.2775306",
  keywords     = "WebGL, procedural generation, ecological models",
  url          = ""

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» Benny Onrust
» Rafael Bidarra
» Robert Rooseboom
» Johan van de Koppel