the homepage for information on compressing 3D graphics and other complex datasets for fast transmission and cheap storage
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This site and all its pages are Copyright (C) 1999 - 2002, Davis King, all rights reserved.

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Welcome to 3DCompression.com, the homepage for information on compressing 3D graphics, animated models, and other complex datasets for use on the Internet, wireless devices, and in other bandwidth-- and storage--limited applications.

For comments, questions, or to submit new links, email the author, Davis King (homepage -- email).

Coming soon -- check out our database of papers on 3D compression! Send us links to your papers so we can be sure to include them.

This site has been supported by an Intel Fellowship, an NSF Grant, and the assistance of our access provider, SJB Communications.  We would also like to thank Jarek Rosssignac and others at the GVU Center at Georgia Tech for their advice and encouragement.

Overview -- short version

3D compression is a new branch of data compression aimed at the 3D models and other geometric datasets used in computer graphics, virtual reality, video games, CAD/CAM, and many scientific, engineering, and medical applications.  

Almost everyone on the Internet has used data compression to get interesting data faster: ZIP for text and software, MP3 for music, JPEG and GIF for images, and MPEG4, Quicktime, and DVD for movies.  In some cases, new compression formats have even created new forms of entertainment and  new business models -- like mp3.com, napster, Internet-based radio stations, and Internet short films.  

The field of 3D compression is attempting to achieve similar gains for 3D models, animation, and other much more complex types of data.  Currently, its main use is to allow existing applications like e-commerce, collaborative CAD/CAM, video games, and medical visualization to use larger and more complex models over the Internet than they can use without compression.  The goal of the field, however, is much larger: to allow new forms of art, business, and entertainment to emerge on the 3D web: 3D photographs, telepresence in virtual worlds, 3D product showrooms, and who knows what else.

Existing 3D compression algorithms use both techniques adapted from the 1D and 2D cases (like wavelets, entropy coding, and predictive coding), and completely different approaches that take advantage of the properties of 3D surfaces (like Edgebreaker, Subdivision Surfaces, and triangle strips).

Several 3D compression tools are already commercially available, including Sun's Java 3D compression standard, IBM's MPEG4/Topological Surgery method, Virtue, Ltd.'s software, and some methods included in Intel's 3D software and Microsoft's DirectX.  However, 3D compression remains an active area of research, in part because many 3D models are still too large to be used efficiently with currently available methods, and because no one knows how much further 3D compression may be improved. 

Current methods for 3D compression may be grouped into three categories:

  1. Mesh-based methods that traverse a polygon mesh representing an object's surface -- Edgebreaker, Java3D compression, Topological Surgery, etc.
  2. Progressive and hierarchical methods that transmit a base mesh and a series of refinements -- Compressed Progressive Meshes, subdivision-based approaches, Compressed Normal Meshes
  3. Image-based approaches that encode not an object but a set of pictures -- QuicktimeVR and IPIX
Since 3D compression is a really new field, many open research questions remain.  My own research involves trying to figure out what the limits are, what factors determine how much a given object may be compressed, and otherwise putting a more solid theoretical foundation on the field.


Copyright (C) 1999-2001, Davis King

This page, the database, and all the pages on this site are copyright (C) 1999-2001, Davis King, all rights reserved, and it may not be reproduced or mirrored in any form or medium without permission, except for automatic caching or, with proper citation and attribution, for "fair use." Anyone is welcome to link to any of the pages on this site; we have included all the links here in good faith and will remove any links at the request of the author or owner of the linked page.  This site is intended for informational and research purposes only, and nothing in this site should be construed as an offer to sell or an endorsement of any product, or as a warranty of the suitability or effectiveness of any technology for any particular application.