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Homework #8: Volume Visualization using Paraview

If you haven't already worked with a volume visualization tool, this assignment will serve as your hands-on introduction to this complex topic. We will use Paraview an open source visualization and analytics platform, which is based on VTK: The Visualization Toolkit, an extensive library of computer graphics, image processing, and visualization software.

NOTE: If you are already quite familiar with Paraview and VTK you may design your own assignment. Perhaps explore an alternate volume visualization software tool, or spend time extending work you have already begun in Paraview/VTK.

  • To get started, begin with the Paraview Tutorial: .
    To follow along with the tutorial, you'll need to install Paraview and download some sample datasets.

  • Take notes and screenshots as you work of anything you find noteworthy or exciting. Think about the target audience for Paraview and their background and research questions they need to answer related to their data. What are the necessary background skills to make effective use of this tool? What is the learning curve? What are the strengths and limitations of Paraview/VTK?

    Note: The tutorial is quite lengthy. You certainly don't need to complete the whole thing! You can skip around to the sections that are of most interest to you. You should probably spend about half of your time working with the sample datasets and following the tutorial instructions.

  • Once you're feeling pretty comfortable with the tool, branch out to a new dataset. As we've talked about throughout the semester, scientific visualization and information visualization are different subfields and certainly not every dataset is amenable to use in Paraview or VTK.

    If one of your earlier datasets is a good fit for volume visualization, that's great! Wrangle the data into the proper format and see what happens in Paraview/VTK. Take screenshots and writeup your thoughts on the visualization process and results. Compare the visualizations you created with other tools to your new volumetric visualizations. What new insights can you see in your data? What additional data (quantity or type of information) would improve the effectiveness of the visualization?

    Alternatively, you can procedurally generate a simple, synthetic volumetric dataset with some homemade scripts (similar to the synthetic graph datasets you created for Homework 1). Start really simple... like a sphere or torus. Consider using noise and/or randomness in creating the data. What pattern/information did you expect to be able to see in your synthetic data? Did the volume visualization tool effectively present this information? What real world data might have this same pattern and be effectively visualized using Paraview/VTK?

What to submit:
  • Prepare a review of the Paraview/VTK tools including the information requested above as either a .pdf with inline images or a plaintext README.txt with well-named image files.

  • Be sure to describe any problems you had in working with Paraview/VTK or wrangling the data. What additional work (or data) would be necessary to address these issues?

  • Submit any code you wrote to wrangle or generate data for paraview. Describe the format and include a representative sample of the new dataset. You don't need to inlude the whole thing, as it's probably large!