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Physics-based Modelling of Gaseous Phenomena for Computer Graphics


Physics-based modeling plays a crucial role in many industrial and scientific sectors. Industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, wireless communication, and resource recovery all rely heavily on physics-based modeling for design and decision support. The power and popularity of physics-based modeling is also proliferating into new and exciting areas such as film-making, computer games, and virtual reality. Moreover, physics-based modeling is now generally accepted as a third principal mode of scientific investigation, along with theory and experiment.

Physically accurate results are obviously of paramount importance in scientific and engineering fields, and the same holds true for the entertainment industry. The difference is that for entertainment purposes, it is often more important to demonstrate a look and feel that is convincing to an audience rather than to focus on high accuracy. Moreover, rendering time costs money, and many consumer products such as three-dimensional modeling and video games often have real-time requirements. For these reasons, the prospect of fast simulation methods that yield believable results is very attractive to the entertainment industry. The role of the computer scientist in this endeavor is crucial, but more often than not, knowledge is achieved through an interdisciplinary approach involving mathematicians and engineers as well.

This thesis discusses physics-based modeling of gaseous phenomena for computer animation. Specifically the focus is on approximating the solution to the Navier-Stokes equations for incompressible fluid flow with thermal buoyancy in order to achieve automated and believable special effects. This includes a detailed overview and discussion of related literature and an examination of the Navier-Stokes equations for incompressible fluid flow with thermal buoyancy. We also give detailed analysis of the explicit finite difference approximation method of Foster and Metaxas [7] and suggest some improvements that reduce the computation time of their mass conservation routine, resulting in faster rendering. These improvements include the application of a generalization of Buck’s method [13] to three dimensions.

Additionally, several special effects conceived by Foster and Metaxas [7] have been reproduced. These include an animation of hot steam as it is released from a valve in a steam room, smoke leaving a smokestack in a wind-filled environment, and a solid object interaction demonstrating smoke flowing around the three block letters FCS (Faculty of Computer Science).

Author: Jane G. Mason

Advisors: J. Norman Scrimger, Raymond J. Spiteri

Download: jmason_mcs_thesis