Controlling Detail


The further the viewer can see, the more there is to draw.

If a shape is distant:

  • The shape is smaller
  • The viewer can’t see as much detail
  • So … draw it with less detail

Varying detail with distance reduces upfront download time, and increases drawing speed.

Creating multiple shape versions

To control detail, model the same shape several times:

  • high detail for when the viewer is close up
  • medium detail for when the viewer is nearish
  • low detail for when the viewer is distant

Usually, two or three different versions is enough, but you can have as many as you want.

Controlling level of detail

Group the shape versions as levels in an LOD grouping node:

  • LOD is short for Level of Detail
  • List them from highest to lowest detail

Syntax: LOD

An LOD grouping node creates a group of shapes describing different levels (versions) of the same shape:

  • center - the center of the shape
  • range - a list of level switch ranges
  • children - a list of shape levels

XML Encoding

    center='0.0 0.0 0.0'
  <!-- children ... -->

Classic Encoding

  center 0.0 0.0 0.0
  range [ ... ]
  children [ ... ]

Choosing detail ranges

Use a list of ranges for level switch points:

  • If you have 3 levels, you need 2 ranges
  • Ranges are hints to the browser

range [ 5.0, 10.0 ]


Optimizing a shape

Suggested procedure to make different levels (versions):

  • Make the high detail shape first
  • Copy it to make a medium detail level
  • Move the medium detail shape to a desired switch distance
  • Delete parts that aren’t dominant
  • Repeat for a low detail level

Lower detail levels should use simpler geometry, fewer textures, and no text.

A sample LOD

XML Encoding

    center='0.0 0.0 0.0'
    range='7.0, 10.0'>

Classic Encoding

  center 0.0 0.0 0.0
  range [ 7.0, 10.0 ]
  children [
    Inline { url "torch1.x3dv" }
    Inline { url "torch2.x3dv" }
    Inline { url "torch3.x3dv" }


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Increase performance by making multiple levels of shapes:

  • High detail for close up viewing
  • Lower detail for more distant viewing

Group the levels in an LOD node:

  • Ordered from high detail to low detail
  • Ranges to select switching distances