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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Kinetic Visualization: A Technique for Illustrating 3D Shape and Structure


Motion provides strong visual cues for the perception of shape and depth, as demonstrated by cognitive scientists and visual artists. This paper presents a novel visualization technique - kinetic visualization-that uses particle systems to add supplemental motion cues which can aid in the perception of shape and spatial relationships of static objects. Based on a set of rules following perceptual and physical principles, particles flowing over the surface of an object not only bring out, but also attract attention to, essential information on the shape of the object that might not be readily visible with conventional rendering that uses lighting and view changes. Replacing still images with animations in this fashion, we demonstrate with both surface and volumetric models in the accompanying videos that in many cases the resulting visualizations effectively enhance the perception of three-dimensional shape and structure. The results of a preliminary user study that we have conducted also show evidence that the supplemental motion cues helped.

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