News Release 

New method makes realistic water wave animations more efficient

Researchers at IST Austria have developed a method that realistically models water wave animations at a significantly lower computational expense

Institute of Science and Technology Austria

Producing high-quality and realistic water wave animations that interact with complex objects is often computationally expensive with designers frequently opting for methods that are fast to compute but of lower quality. Researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have developed a technique to produce more realistic water wave animations at a similar computational expense as compared to current approaches. The results are published in the journal ACM - Transactions on Graphics today.

In general, water wave simulations are based on one of two available methods. 'Fourier-based' methods are efficient but cannot model complicated interactions, such as water hitting the shore of an island. More elaborate, 'numerical' techniques, on the other hand, can simulate a wide range of such effects but are much more expensive computationally. As a result, detailed scenes such as ripples forming as a wave interacts with an island or even a boat passing by are practically impossible due to the sheer processing time and computational power needed. Computer Scientists from Christoph Wojtan's research team at IST Austria have now developed a method that makes it possible to animate realistic waves and their interaction with solid objects, at a large scale and also in a computationally efficient manner.

From theory to industry

Achieving this feat required innovation and a deep understanding of the physics involved by solving complex mathematical equations that model wave-surface interactions. With SIGGRAPH 2019, the annual conference on computer graphics convened by the ACM SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) organization coming up at the end of July, the team will showcase their methods at the conference and see numerous applications to the movie and video game industry. Scenes such as boats moving past islands and rain droplets hitting water are possible with this method and are now demonstrated to be computationally efficient to do so.

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