# Matrix transformation tutorial

OTMMATX.DOC - matrix transformation tutorial

(or if you prefer, "A proven antidote for VLA 3d tutorials" :)

Copyright (C) 1995, Zach Mortensen [Voltaire OTM.TAP]

All rights reserved.

email - mortens1@nersc.gov

## Table of Contents

- 0. Introduction
- 1. Math Prerequisites
- 2. Importance of Correct Transformations
- 3. What a Matrix Represents
- 4. Matrix Multiplication
- 5. Transforming a Vector by a Matrix
- 6. Object Space Transformations
- 7. Camera Transformations
- 8. Inverse Transformations
- 9. Hierarchical Transformations
- A. Precision
- B. Conclusion

## Introduction

It has been entirely too long since I wrote my last doc, I just had to make another one :) This is a topic which I have spent a great deal of time teaching lately, so I decided to make a doc that would expedite the process for me.

If you are looking for advice from a certified expert, you will not find it in this doc. I am merely an individual who has spent the past year studying realtime rendering, and who is willing to share what he has learned. However, you should rest assured that I do not write docs about things I have never implemented in working code, and I never code anything I don't fully understand. In other words, I think I know what I am talking about here :)

All of the techniques in this file can be implemented regardless of the programming language you use, from assembler to C to Visual Basic. I will, however, be giving any pseudocode examples in C, because it seems to be the universal language of coders right now. For the sake of simplicity, all code examples will use floating point math. Floating point is the wave of the future, as a matter of fact its faster than fixed point integer math on the newest RISC machines (PowerPC, DEC Alpha). Unfortunately, Intel users have been given hideously slow floating point processors in the past and are less than confident in the ability of their machines; but things will get better very shortly.

## Math Prerequisites

Sadly, matrix math is something that is all but ignored in most high school curricula in the United States. But hey, the best stuff is skipped in high school, everybody knows that :) You should not be afraid of matrix math just because your high school math teacher does not teach it. Now that I think about it, matrix math is probably skipped in high school simply because there is nothing taught in high school that applies its principles.

The only matrix math I was taught in high school was for solving systems of equations. Basically, we were taught that a matrix is a simple and powerful way to represent a complex system of equations. This is a great explanation, although extremely simplistic. Keep this in mind throughout the course of this doc.

The math of matrices is very simple. Nothing higher than first year algebra is used, although an understanding of trigonometry will make your life much easier when it comes to understanding the meaning of all those numbers in a matrix. If you have had a course in Linear Algebra at a university, this doc will probably be old news to you.

## Importance of Correct Transformations

When I first began coding vector graphics, I had a great understanding of trigenometry and anything but fond memories of matrix math as it was presented in my high school courses. To me, matrix math seemed to be an unneccessarily complex way to solve a simple algebraic problem, like trying to swat a fly with an elephant gun. Indeed, many algebraic problems can be solved without the use of matrix math.

However, vector graphics pose a system of equations that are anything but simple to solve algebraically. Consider the following: in a typical vector world, there are many objects. Each of these objects moves in its own space (object space), relative to its own set of coordinate axes. There are several cameras, each of which moves in its own space (camera space or eyespace) according to its own set of coordinate axes. At some point, the objects must be transformed from object space to eyespace so they can be displayed as the eye sees them. Apart from this, there is the issue of object hierarchies. In a realistic vector environment, object hierarchies must be handled correctly. These issues present formidable challenges without the use of matrix math. However, by using matrix math we can deal with all of these issues in a simple and speedy manner.

Granted, I am assuming that everyone wants to make simulation quality vector code. This type of code requires correct transformations. Speaking from a demo scene point of view, very few demos implement correct transformations simply because they are not required for the application. The stereotypical vector scene in a demo is a childish attempt to display speed and pretty rendering on a single object. Most demo coders do not care if their objects are moving correctly, they just want them to move around a bit. This attitude is fine, assuming you never want to do anything with your code besides show a spinning cube or toroid.

Any impressive vector application (game, simulator, etc.) requires correct transformations. Consider the following example. An airplane is oriented such that its nose is pointing in the positive z direction, its right wing is pointing in the positive x direction, its cockpit is pointing in the positive y direction. The airplane's local x, y, and z axes are aligned with the world x, y, and z axes. If this airplane were rotated 90 degrees about its y axis, its nose would be pointing toward the world -x axis, its right wing pointing toward the world +z, and its cockpit remaining in the world +y direction. Most transformations, whether correct or incorrect, would accomplish this. Here is the 'acid test' to see whether your transformations are correct. From this new position, rotate the airplane about its z axis. If your transformations are correct, the airplane will rotate about its own z axis (it will roll). If your transformation is incorrect, the airplane will rotate about the world z axis (its nose will pitch up or down).

This rather silly example poses quite a serious question. If your transformations are not correct, how will you control object movement in a vector world? How will you guarantee your airplane will roll when you tell it to instead of pitching? The same problem arises with incorrect camera rotation. The consequences of such incorrectness in a flight simulator or game would make the game unplayable.

The solution to this problem is simple; the use of 4x4 matrix transformations.

## What a Matrix Represents

Before we continue, it will help you greatly to understand what the values in a matrix represent. A 4x4 matrix contains 4 vectors, which represent the world space coordinates of the x, y and z unit axis vectors, and the world space coordinate which is the origin of these axis vectors.

` X Y Z C `

Ú ¿

| Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |X | |X | |X | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |Y | |Y | |Y | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |Z | |Z | |Z | |0 | |

| À Ù À Ù À Ù | | |

| Ú---------------¿ | | |

O | X Y Z |1 | |

| À---------------Ù À Ù |

À Ù

The X column contains the world space coordinates of the local X axis

The Y column contains the world space coordinates of the local Y axis

The Z column contains the world space coordinates of the local Z axis

These vectors are unit vectors. A unit vector is a vector whose magnitude is 1. Basically, unit vectors are used to define directions, when magnitude is not really important.

The C column always contains the specified values

The O row contains the world space coordinates of the object's origin

You can make life easy for yourself by storing matrices which contain axis information in each object. I keep two matrices for every object; omatrix, which stores the object space matrix, and ematrix, which stores the eyespace matrix for the object.

A special matrix is the identity matrix:

` Ú ¿ `

| Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |1 | |0 | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |1 | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |0 | |1 | |0 | |

| À Ù À Ù À Ù | | |

| Ú---------------¿ | | |

| 0 0 0 |1 | |

| À---------------Ù À Ù |

À Ù

Notice why the identity matrix is special? The identity matrix represents a set of object axes that are aligned with the world axes. Remember that the vectors stored in the matrix are unit vectors. Now, because the world x coordinate of the local x axis is 1, the world y and z coordinates of the local x axis are 0, and the origin vector is [0, 0, 0], the local x axis lies directly on the world x axis. The same is true for the local y and z axes.

The other special property of the identity matrix is given away in its name. If you are familiar with math, you know that there are identity elements in the set of any arithmetic operation. When an binary operation is performed on some operand and the identity element of the set, the operand is the result of the operation. For example, identity elements for multiplication and division are 1, and identity elements for addition and subtraction are 0. x + 0 = x; x - 0 = x; x * 1 = x; x / 1 = x. Similarly, [x] * [identity] = [x] (I will denote matrices in brackets [] throughout this doc, for example [x] is "matrix x").

## Matrix Multiplication

There are two matrix operations which we will use in our matrix transformations, multiplying (concatenating) two matrices, and transforming a vector by a matrix. We will now examine the first of these two operations, matrix multiplication.

Matrix multiplication is the operation by which one matrix is transformed by another. A very important thing to remember is that matrix multiplication is not commutative. That is, [a] * [b] != [b] * [a]. For now, it will suffice to say that a matrix multiplication stores the results of the sum of the products of matrix rows and columns. Here is some example code of a matrix multiplication routine which multiplies matrix [a] * matrix [b], then copies the result to matrix a.

`void matmult(float a[4][4], float b[4][4]) `

{

float temp[4][4]; // temporary matrix for storing result

int i, j; // row and column counters

for (j = 0; j < 4; j++) // transform by columns first

for (i = 0; i < 4; i++) // then by rows

temp[i][j] = a[i][0] * b[0][j] + a[i][1] * b[1][j] +

a[i][2] * b[2][j] + a[i][3] * b[3][j];

for (i = 0; i < 4; i++) // copy result matrix into matrix a

for (j = 0; j < 4; j++)

a[i][j] = temp[i][j];

}

I have been informed that there is a faster way of multiplying matrices, which involves taking the dot product of rows and columns. However, I have yet to implement such a method, so I will not discuss it here at this time.

## Transforming a Vector by a Matrix

This is the second operation which is required for our matrix transformations. It involves projecting a stationary vector onto transformed axis vectors using the dot product. One dot product is performed for each coordinate axis.

`x = x0 * matrix[0][0] + y0 * matrix[1][0] + z0 * matrix[2][0] + `

w0 * matrix[3][0];

y = x0 * matrix[0][1] + y0 * matrix[1][1] + z0 * matrix[2][1] +

w0 * matrix[3][1];

z = x0 * matrix[0][2] + y0 * matrix[1][2] + z0 * matrix[2][2] +

w0 * matrix[3][2];

The x0, y0, etc. coordinates are the original object space coordinates for the vector. That is, they never change due to transformation.

"Alright," you say. "Where did all the w coordinates come from???" Good question :) The w coordinates come from what is known as a homogenous coordinate system, which is basically a way to represent 3d space in terms of a 4d matrix. Because we are limiting ourselves to 3d, we pick a constant, nonzero value for w (1.0 is a good choice, since anything * 1.0 = itself). If we use this identity axiom, we can eliminate a multiply from each of the dot products:

`x = x0 * matrix[0][0] + y0 * matrix[1][0] + z0 * matrix[2][0] + `

matrix[3][0];

y = x0 * matrix[0][1] + y0 * matrix[1][1] + z0 * matrix[2][1] +

matrix[3][1];

z = x0 * matrix[0][2] + y0 * matrix[1][2] + z0 * matrix[2][2] +

matrix[3][2];

These are the formulas you should use to transform a vector by a matrix.

## Object Space Transformations

Now that we know how to multiply matrices together, we can implement the actual formulas used in our transformations. There are three operations performed on a vector by a matrix transformation: translation, rotation, and scaling.

Translation can best be described as linear change in position. This change can be represented by a delta vector [dx, dy, dz], where dx represents the change in the object's x position, dy represents the change in its y position, and dz its z position.

If done correctly, object space translation allows objects to translate forward/backward, left/right, and up/down, relative to the current orientation of the object. Using our airplane as an example, if the nose of the airplane is oriented along the object's local z axis, then translating the airplane in the +z direction will make the airplane move forward (the direction in which its nose is pointing) regardless of the airplane's orientation.

Here is the translation matrix:

` Ú ¿ `

| Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |1 | |0 | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |1 | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |0 | |1 | |0 | |

| À Ù À Ù À Ù | | |

| Ú---------------¿ | | |

| dx dy dz |1 | |

| À---------------Ù À Ù |

À Ù

where [dx, dy, dz] is the displacement vector. After this operation, the object will have moved in its own coordinate system, according to the displacement (translation) vector.

The next operation that is performed by our matrix transformation is rotation. Rotation can be described as circular motion about some axis, in this case the axis is one of the object's local axes. Since there are three axes in each object, we need to rotate around each of them. Here are the matrices for rotation about each axis:

about the x axis:

` Ú ¿ `

| Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |1 | |0 | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |cx | |sx | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |-sx| |cx | |0 | |

| À Ù À Ù À Ù | | |

| Ú---------------¿ | | |

| 0 0 0 |1 | |

| À---------------Ù À Ù |

À Ù

about the y axis:

` Ú ¿ `

| Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |cy | |0 | |-sy| |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |1 | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |sy | |0 | |cy | |0 | |

| À Ù À Ù À Ù | | |

| Ú---------------¿ | | |

| 0 0 0 |1 | |

| À---------------Ù À Ù |

À Ù

about the z axis:

` Ú ¿ `

| Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ Ú ¿ |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |cz | |sz | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |-sz| |cz | |0 | |0 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| |0 | |0 | |1 | |0 | |

| À Ù À Ù À Ù | | |

| Ú---------------¿ | | |

| 0 0 0 |1 | |

| À---------------Ù À Ù |

À Ù

The cx, sx, cy, sy, cz, and sz variables are the values of the cosines and sines of the angles of rotation about the x, y, and z axes, respectively. Remeber that the angles used represent angular displacement just as the values used in the translation step denote a linear displacement. Correct transformation CANNOT be accomplished with matrix multiplication if you use the cumulative angles of rotation. I have been told that quaternions are able to perform this operation correctly, however I know nothing of quaternions and how they are implemented. The incremental angles used here represent rotation from the current object orientation. In other words, by rotating 1 degree about the z axis, you are telling your object "Rotate 1 degree about your z axis, regardless of your current orientation, and regardless of how you got to that orientation." If you think about it a bit, you will realize that this is how the real world operates. In object space, the series of rotations an object undergoes to attain a certain orientation have no effect on the object space results of any upcoming rotations.

Now that we know the matrix formulas for translation and rotation, we can combine them to transform our objects. The formula for transformations in object space is

` [O] = [O] * [T] * [X] * [Y] * [Z]`

where O is the object's matrix, T is the translation matrix, and X, Y, and Z are the rotation matrices for their respective axes. Remember, that order of matrix multiplication is very important!

The recursive assignment of O poses a question: What is the original value of the object matrix? To eliminate any terrible errors in transformation, the matrices which store an object's orientation should always be initialized to identity.

## Camera Transformations

Good camera code is a key to a good vector engine. If the camera does not move correctly in a first-person type simulation, any hope of realism is lost. Fortunately, camera code is very easy to implement using matrices.

Each camera should contain one matrix which defines its current orientation. Like the object matrix, the camera matrix (I call it cmatrix) should be initialized to identity to avoid hideous errors. The camera matrix is built in exactly the same way as the object matrix, using CT, CX, CY and CZ. These translation and rotation matrices are made in exactly the same way as their object space counterparts, except for the obvious fact that they are made using camera rotation and translation vectors. Depending on your implementation, the components of the displacement vectors may need to be negated. Sometimes all of the [dx, dy, dz] and [xangle, yangle, zangle] need to be negated, sometimes some of them. Once again, it depends on your implementation. If you find your camera is moving forward instead of backward, right instead of left, up instead of down, etc. you need to negate a vector component somewhere. Once you get that straightened out, build the camera matrix like this

` [C] = [C] * [CT] * [CX] * [CY] * [CZ]`

Once you have made the camera matrix, you can transform your object matrices to camera space with a simple matrix multiplication

` [E] = [O] * [C]`

where [E] is the eyespace matrix, [O] is the object space matrix for the object, and [C] is the camera space matrix for the camera you are using (which we calculated above).

If you are an incredibly astute individual, you will have realized that I have left a step out of this process. Where did I add the world coordinates of the object's origin? The translation in the object matrix is a displacement which is added to the origin of the object, but what of the original value of the object's origin?

The reason I left this step out until now is because it is easiest to perform this operation in the middle of transforming an object to eyespace. Something to remember is that the object origin is expressed in terms of world space coordinates. If we want our transformations to be correct, we have to add world space coordinates to world space coordinates, adding them to camera or object space coordinates would give us incorrect results. The only time we have world space coordinates in this process is after object transformation is complete. At this time, we can add the coordinates of the object's origin to the origin vector found in the transformation matrix. Here is some example code illustrating this process. omatrix contains the object space transformation matrix, cmatrix contains the camera transformation matrix. ematrix will be the result of omatrix * cmatrix.

` (initialize tmatrix, xmatrix, ymatrix, zmatrix...) `

...

matmult(omatrix, tmatrix); // translate the object

matmult(omatrix, zmatrix); // rotate about z

matmult(omatrix, xmatrix); // rotate about x

matmult(omatrix, ymatrix); // rotate about y

initmatrix(ematrix); // initialize eye space matrix to identity

matmult(ematrix, omatrix); // copy the object space matrix to eye space

ematrix[3][0] += origin->lx; // add origin vector

ematrix[3][1] += origin->ly;

ematrix[3][2] += origin->lz;

matmult(ematrix, cmatrix); // convert world space to eye space

## Inverse Transformations

Inverse transformations are used to perform hidden surface removal in object space, without transforming any normal vectors. Likewise, the same technique can be used in shading. This method provides some obvious speed increases over transforming normal vectors, the correct culling or shading information can be determined by inversely transforming a view or light vector, then taking the dot product of this inversely transformed vector and the non-transformed normal vectors. In addition to the rendering time saved by not transforming normal vectors, this method can give significant time savings by allowing you to hide points as well as polys. If you determine that only the points contained in visible polygons are visible, you can avoid transforming points contained in those polygons which are not visible. This usually accounts for around half of the points in an object.

Inverse transformation requires an inverse matrix, which is made by negating all of the angles in the constituent rotation matrices and multiplying them together in reverse order. As you can imagine, this is quite a slow process, especially when a camera and hierarchical object are involved! Thankfully though, there is a shortcut.

Certain types of matrices (I believe those that have a determinant of 1) can be inverted by swapping rows and columns. The transformation matrix is this type of matrix. I made a utility to test this property, generating an inverse matrix with the negate and multiply in reverse order algorithm, and comparing it to the original matrix. I found that transformation matrices do fit the pattern of inversion by row and column swapping.

This means that you can inverse transform your view and light vectors with the following formulas (notice that these are identical to the regular transformation formulas, but have the row and column indices swapped):

`x = x0 * matrix[0][0] + y0 * matrix[0][1] + z0 * matrix[0][2]; `

y = x0 * matrix[1][0] + y0 * matrix[1][1] + z0 * matrix[1][2];

z = x0 * matrix[2][0] + y0 * matrix[2][1] + z0 * matrix[2][2];

If you are a smart one, you will also notice that there are only 3 terms in these equations, the w term (translation part of the matrix) is missing. This is because we are inverse transforming, the result is object space. We want all of our vectors to start at the origin for this operation, in object space the origin is [0, 0, 0].

## Hierarchical Transformations

I must confess, MechWarrior ][ is the game that inspired me to grind out all of this matrix code. I found it so realistic, being able to move in so many different coordinate systems (I wonder if the casual user realizes this? :) I had been wanting to implement all this in my code for quite some time, and playing MW2 was the event that pushed me over the edge.

Another thing that this game showed me was the usefulness of hierarchical transformations. If you are lost in my terminology, let me explain what I mean by hierarchical transformations.

Apart from being a great spelling bee word, a hierarchy is an organazation of things into levels. In a very general sense, the things higher up in a hierarchy have control over the lower things. This applies to business, government, and our favorite subject, matrix transformations.

As far as matrix transformations are concerned, consider an arm as an example of a hierarchical object. The topmost object in the arm hierarchy is the bicep or upper arm, followed by the forearm, the hand, and the fingers. Each of these 'objects' has an origin, the bicep has the shoulder, the forearm has the elbow, the hand has the wrist, and the fingers have the knuckles.

Here is where the hierarchical part comes into play, remember what I said earlier about higher things on a hierarchy being able to control the lower things? Well, move your bicep up in the air by pivoting your shoulder. Surprise! Your forearm, hand and fingers moved with your bicep. Now move your forearm by bending your elbow. Notice that your hand and fingers moved, but your bicep did not. This is because your forearm is lower in the hierarchy than your bicep, and therefore has no control over it.

Here is an interesting question. How on earth do you mathematically represent this hierarchy of objects in a correct manner? More importantly, how can you do it quickly? Using matrices, you can correctly transform a hierarchy of objects in no more time than it takes to transform non-hierarchical objects.

Alright, its time for a little side trip into the dreaded land of data structures. While it is coding hell for the beginner, the land of data structures is the playground of any experienced programmer. Data structures are easy, its the implementation that kills most people. Most people with little experience in data structures and data relationship immediately try to swat a fly with an elephant gun by applying every data structure in the book to a simple problem. "How about if I make an array of stacks containing doubly linked lists of AVL trees, would that work?" Well, I'm not one to say it would not. However, I have found that the simplest solution to a problem is generally the best.

In this case, the simplest solution to creating a hierarchical object data structure is to have parent objects keep track of their children only.

`typedef struct object `

{

(other stuff here)

...

object **children;

int numchildren;

} object;

The **children member of the struct above allows you to dynamically allocate enough memory for the children of each object. For example, if we were making an instance of this struct for a hand, we would allocate an array of five pointers for **children. These pointers would be set to the addresses of the object structs which contain the children of the hand, namely the fingers.

Now that we have discussed how to implement the hierarchy data structures, lets move on to cover how to perform the actual hierarchical transformations. First, if you will recall, our system of matrix transformations handles incremental rotation and translation; that is, objects are transformed according to some change in position and change in angles of rotation. This feature lends itself well to hierarchical transformation.

If you were to transform two objects by the same matrix, what would be the result? The two objects would have the same orientation relative to each other before and after the transformation. This property of matrix transformation is key to hierarchical transformations. Consider the arm example again. Keeping your elbow and wrist stiff, extend your arm in front of you and raise and lower it by rotating your arm at the shoulder. Your arm will stay straight, it appears that all objects (bicep, forearm, hand, fingers) are behaving as one object.

If this were the extent of a hierarchy's usefulness, we could simply transform each child object using the matrix of its parent. But we want each child object to be able to move on its own too; that is, we want to be able to bend the elbow, wrist, and fingers while we raise and lower our shoulders, using the arm example again. Here is where the incremental rotation comes in handy. Consider the matrix of a parent object as a starting point. The orientation of a child can then be expressed in terms of this parent orientation plus some rotation and translation increment. This increment can be expressed in terms of an object matrix.

Actually, we already calculate this matrix in our code; in my code its the omatrix member of the object struct. This matrix contains the orientation of the object, and we can easily express this orientation in terms of an increment to the orientation of a parent object. To do this, simply understand that when you rotate the forearm 5 degrees, you are putting a 5 degree bend in your arm between the forearm and the bicep. Likewise, translating the forearm or hand would move it relative to its parent according to the displacement vector specified. Of course, the initial position of the object's origin must be given as a displacement from the origin of the parent object if you are going to use this system of object hierarchy.

Here is where the big advantages of this method come into play. According to what we have already said, the transformation formula for a child in an object hierarchy would be

` [O] = [O] * [T] * [X] * [Y] * [Z] * parent.[O] * parent.parent.[O] ... `

[E] = [O] * [C]

where parent.[O] is the object space matrix of the parent to this object, parent.parent.[O] is the object space matrix of the parent's parent, etc.

We can shorten this definition to

` [E] = [O] * [T] * [X] * [Y] * [Z] * parent.[O] * ... * [C]`

Since [E] = [O] * [C], we can substitute parent.[E] = parent.[O] * [C].

Then, our transformation formula becomes

` [E] = [O] * [T] * [X] * [Y] * [Z] * parent.[E]`

Which is the same number of matrix multiplies as our original transformation formula!

Now back to data structures for a second, so we can make some pseudo code illustrating this point. In my rendering engine, I keep a list of objects to be rendered. Using this method of hierarchy, only the parent object in the hierarchy should be in this list. This is because all objects in the object list are rendered using the camera matrix, whereas all children must be rendered using the eyespace matrix of their parent (which contains the parent object space matrix and the camera matrix). Therefore, in a call to transform or render an object, you should make sure that the object will transform and render its children. here is some pseudocode

`void transformobject(object *obj, float cmatrix[4][4]) `

{

(do transformations on this object)

...

for (count = 0; count < obj->numchildren; count++)

transformobject(obj->children[count], obj->ematrix);

}

void renderobject(object *obj)

{

(render the object however you like)

...

for (count = 0; count < obj->numchildren; count++)

renderobject(obj->children[count]);

}

## Precision

There is one drawback to this method of matrix transformation, it requires that the values stored in your matrix be very precise. This is a problem because all digital representations of fractional numbers are approximated somewhat, and no matter how precise the approximation, errors will propagate. This means that the more you use an approximated value in calculations, the less precise the value becomes. There are several solutions to this problem, I will briefly discuss each and then leave the decision to you.

The first (and most obvious) solution is to use the most precise data type available. On the PC, we have 64 bit (double) and 80 bit (long double) floating point data types. Clearly, using these data types will result in VERY little loss of precision in calculations. This is a viable solution to our problem but may not be desirable due to the larger storage requirements and possible speed hits which accompany these data types.

The second solution is to use 32 bit single precision floating point data. Its precision is more than adequate in most cases, and its speed is tolerable when a floating point coprocessor is present. Also, single precision floats do not require any more space to store than long integers. Disadvantages of this data type are that it is somewhat slow even on machines with a floating point coprocessor, and there is always the chance that someone without a FPU will use the software. In this case, pure floating point math will be anywhere from 10 to 100 times slower than integer math.

The third option is to use integer math. The obvious benefit here is speed, the obvious disadvantage is precision. 16.16 integer math (16 bit integer, 16 bit fraction) allows for less than 5 decimal places of precision. This may sound like a lot, but consider the fact that the axis vectors in the transformation matrix all have a magnitude of 1, which means that the individual x, y, and z components are always less than or equal to 1. Your fractional bits become very important in such a situation.

As far as my personal preference, I use single precision floating point math in my transformation matrix. I have found it to be the best compromise between speed and precision. As processors become more and more adept at floating point calculation, floating point math will be faster than integer math. Many of the newer RISC based processors already have floating point math that is faster than its integer counterpart. For example, friends of mine developing PowerPC rendering software tell me that floating point math is three to four times faster than integer math on their platforms. The PowerPC has a nifty little instruction called fpmuladd which performs a floating point multiply and add in once clock cycle! It makes your matrix multiplication routines pretty fast. There are also faster desktop FPUs. The floating point unit in a DEC Alpha chip is roughly the same speed as those in Cray supercomputers made in the early 1980's!

Now, about how to handle the loss of precision. Two things happen when a matrix loses precision; its axis vectors change magnitude so that they are no longer unit vectors, and its axis vectors "wander" around a bit so that they are no longer perpendicular to each other. I have implemented both integer and single precision floating point versions of these matrix transformations. I found that the 16.16 fixed point integer versions will lose precision after somewhere around 10^{2} transformations, while the single precision floating point version shows no noticeable loss of precision after 10^{5} transformations. However, there was a slightly noticeable wobble of objects in the third level of hierarchy when using precision floating point. I attribute this to a normal, usually unnoticeable loss of precision which is more noticeable because it is shown in the same frame as objects transformed with more precise versions of the same matrix.

If you are a die hard integer math freak who refuses to accept the fact that floating point is the wave of the future, there are a few you can do to justify your use of integer math with reasonable matrix precision. First, you could try using 0.32 fixed point in the rotation portion of the transformation matrix. However, you are going to have to do some 64 bit shifting around, and some tricky shifting in your matrix multiplication routine to accomodate translation values, which are almost always greater than 1. The next method involves fixing your matrix so all the vectors are the proper length and mutually perpendicular. This is quite a math problem to solve if you have never considered the solution or have no knowledge of vector operations. There are two ways of going about this, one involves dot products, the other involves cross products.

The dot product method is based on the fact that the dot product of perpendicular vectors is 0, because the dot product is the projection of one vector onto another. If the dot product is not 0, you have a value which is related to how far the vectors overlap in a certain direction. By subtracting this value from the vector, you can straighten it in that direction. After you straighten all your vectors in this manner, you re-normalize them so that their lengths are 1 (length changes as a result of the perpendicularity correction), and you are set.

The cross product method involves the fact that the cross product operation yeilds a vector which is perpendicular to its operands. By taking the cross product of two axes, you can make a third axis which is perpendicular to both. Then, by taking the cross product of this new axis and the first of the two axes in the first cross product operation, you can generate a new second axis which is perpendicular to axes one and three. One is perpendicular to three and two, two is perpendicular to three. There you have it, mutual perpendicularity. Of course, you also need to normalize these vectors when you are done.

## Conclusion

Wow, writing docs is loads of fun...I wonder why I waited this long to make a new one? heh...

All of this stuff came from my head. I'm not the type who sits down in front of a terminal with a copy of Foley's book (I don't even own a copy of that monster...probably never will) or any other book for that matter (don't own any books on graphics at all, come to think of it :) On the other hand, I'm not claiming that everything in here is my own idea. Actually, there are no big secrets divulged here, sorry if thats what you were looking for. These techniques are pretty much common knowledge, if that were not the case, how would I have found out about them? :) "So why did you write a doc then, fool?" Because I have found myself spending lots of time explaining this stuff lately, and its better for all parties involved for me to write things down in a doc rather than teaching the same things to different people day after day. Now I can just say, "here, read this! :)"

I have been asked if its ok to publish my other docs in diskmags, newsletters, etc. I have no problem with this whatsoever, as long as I am dealt with fairly. That is, you can publish this doc anywhere as long as you do not lead anyone to believe it is not my work.

## Greets to

OTM

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StarScream

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MaxD

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MiKiEx

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y todos he olvidado