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9.4. 3D Mesh Coding

Three-dimensional mesh coding (3DMC) was introduced in MPEG-4 Visual, Version 2 [M4V2]. Because of its name, 3DMC might be confused with an extension to 2D mesh coding, which is not the case as 3DMC is a new SNHC technology to efficiently represent synthetic 3D models. Whereas 2D mesh coding was introduced to support video manipulation through 2D meshes, 3DMC provides a representation and compression tool for IndexedFaceSet nodes of 3D objects onto which images and video may be mapped. It is worth noting that 3DMC is to compress static 3D models, not their animation, which is yet another clear difference between 2D mesh coding and 3DMC. 3DMC provides additional functionalities—such as high compression, incremental rendering, and error resilience—that are useful to many applications.

3D (polygonal) meshes are not the only way to represent 3D models. There are many other well-known methods, such as NURBS and subdivision surfaces [Bloo97]. At the time of writing, these tools are under development in the context of MPEG-4 AFX. They will provide additional functionalities to support curved surfaces and subdivision surfaces that are popular in the games and animation industries. However, 3D mesh representation is one of the cheapest solutions to represent 3D models in software and hardware. Moreover, 3D meshes are a common way to exchange 3D models produced with different methods.


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