MeshFlow: Interactive Visualization of Mesh Construction Sequences

J. Denning, W. B. Kerr, F. Pellacini
ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH 2011), 2011


The construction of polygonal meshes remains a complex task in Computer Graphics, taking tens of thousands of individual operations over several hours of modeling time. The complexity of modeling in terms of number of operations and time makes it difficult for artists to understand all details of how meshes are constructed. We present MeshFlow, an interactive system for visualizing mesh construction sequences. MeshFlow hierarchically clusters mesh editing operations to provide viewers with an overview of the model construction while still allowing them to view more details on demand. We base our clustering on an analysis of the frequency of repeated operations and implement it using substituting regular expressions. By filtering operations based on either their type or which vertices they affect, MeshFlow also ensures that viewers can interactively focus on the relevant parts of the modeling process. Automatically generated graphical annotations visualize the clustered operations. We have tested MeshFlow by visualizing five mesh sequences each taking a few hours to model, and we found it to work well for all. We have also evaluated MeshFlow with a case study using modeling students. We conclude that our system provides useful visualizations that are found to be more helpful than video or document-form instructions in understanding mesh construction.