Rendering and streaming of terrains and urban environments


Rendering and streaming of terrains and urban environments



Real-time 3D exploration of digital elevation and urban models is one of the most important components in a number of practical applications. Massive high accuracy datasets are routinely generated through specialized modeling solutions as well as a variety of capture settings, from satellites to planes and drones. The resulting models need specialized techniques to be effectively explored and rendered.


Over the past decades, we have designed and developed a suite of multi-resolution out-of-core techniques for rapid high-quality distribution and visualization of textured digital terrain models and high resolution urban environments. Our solutions include advanced mesh refinement for creating seamless variable-rate representations suitable for GPU-accelerated rendering, aggressive compression techniques capable to support maximum-error constraints and GPU-friendly approximated far-field representations of textured urban data. Many of these solutions have been integrated in an open-source code (rat-man), that has been employed in a variety of settings, including regional and national-scale distributed geoviewing systems. Our adaptive solutions have also been used for simulation applications in the space domain.

Innovative features

  • first GPU accelerated methods for seamless adaptation at a local and planetary scale;
  • full open-source solutions for scalable rendering and compression.

Potential users

Researchers in visual computing, cultural heritage experts.

Impact sectors

ICT - Aerospace.

Other resources

  1. Rat-man framework
  2. Paolo Cignoni, Marco Di Benedetto, Fabio Ganovelli, Enrico Gobbetti, Fabio Marton, and Roberto Scopigno. Ray-Casted BlockMaps for Large Urban Models Visualization. Computer Graphics Forum, 26(3): 405-413, September 2007. Proc. Eurographics 2007.
  3. Renato Pajarola and Enrico Gobbetti. Survey on Semi-Regular Multiresolution Models for Interactive Terrain Rendering. The Visual Computer, 23(8): 583-605, 2007.
  4. Fabio Bettio, Enrico Gobbetti, Fabio Marton, and Giovanni Pintore. High-quality networked terrain rendering from compressed bitstreams. In Proc. ACM Web3D International Symposium. Pages 37-44, April 2007. ACM Press. New York, NY, USA.

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