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Panda3D Manual: GeomVertexFormat

The GeomVertexFormat object describes how the columns of a GeomVertexData are ordered and named, and exactly what kind of numeric data is stored in each column. Every GeomVertexData has an associated GeomVertexFormat, which describes how the data in that object is stored.

Just as a GeomVertexData object is really a list of one or more GeomVertexArrayData objects, a GeomVertexFormat object is a list of one or more GeomVertexArrayFormat objects, each of which defines the structure of the corresponding array. There will be one GeomVertexArrayFormat object for each array in the format. Each GeomVertexArrayFormat, in turn, consists of a list of GeomVertexColumn objects, one for each column in the array. For instance, the format for a GeomVertexData with six columns, distributed over three different arrays, might look like this:

GeomVertexFormat

GeomVertexArrayFormat

GeomVertexColumn

GeomVertexColumn

GeomVertexColumn

GeomVertexArrayFormat

GeomVertexColumn

GeomVertexArrayFormat

GeomVertexColumn

GeomVertexColumn

Each GeomVertexColumn has a number of properties:

getNumComponents()

This defines the number of numeric components of the data in the column. For instance, the vertex position, which is typically an (X, Y, Z) triple, has three components: X, Y, and Z. A texture coordinate usually has two components (U, V), but sometimes has three components (U, V, W).

getNumericType()

This defines the kind of numeric data that is stored in each component. It must be one of the following symbols:

Geom.NT_float32

Each component is a 32-bit floating-point number. This is by far the most common type.

Geom.NT_uint8

Each component is a single 8-bit integer, in the range 0 - 255. OpenGL encodes an RGBA color value as a four-component array of 8-bit integers of this type, in R, G, B, A order.

Geom.NT_uint16

Each component is a single 16-bit integer, in the range 0 - 65535.

Geom.NT_uint32

Each component is a single 32-bit integer, in the range 0 - 4294967295.

Geom.NT_packed_dcba

Each component is a 32-bit word, with four 8-bit integer index values packed into it in little-endian order (D, C, B, A), DirectX-style. This is usually used with a 1-component column (since each component already has four values). DirectX uses this format to store up to four indexes into a transform table for encoding vertex animation. (The GeomVertexReader and GeomVertexWriter classes will automatically reorder the A, B, C, D parameters you supply into DirectX's D, C, B, A order.)

Geom.NT_packed_dabc

Each component is a 32-bit word, with four 8-bit integer index values packed into it in ARGB order (D, A, B, C). As above, this is normally used with a 1-component column. DirectX uses this format to represent an RGBA color value. (The GeomVertexReader and GeomVertexWriter classes will automatically reorder the R, G, B, A parameters you supply into DirectX's A, R, G, B order.) This should only be used with a C_color contents value.

Geom.NT_packed_ufloat

Each component is a 32-bit word, containing two packed unsigned 11-bit floats and one 10-bit float. Only supported in newer OpenGL versions from Panda3D 1.10 onward. Can only encode values between 0.0 and 64512.0.

getContents()

This defines, in a general way, the semantic meaning of the data in the column. It is used by Panda to decide how the data should be modified when a transform matrix or texture matrix is applied; it also controls the default value for the column data, as well as the way data is stored and fetched from the column.

The contents specification must be one of the following symbols:

Geom.C_point

The data represents a point in object coordinates, either in 3-D space (if it is a 3-component value) or in 4-D homogenous space (if it is a 4-component value). When a transform matrix is applied to the vertex data, the data in this column is transformed as a point. If a 4-component value is stored into a 3-component column, the fourth component is understood to be a homogenous coordinate, and it implicitly scales the first three. Similarly, if a 4-component value is read from a 3-component column, the fourth value is implicitly 1.0.

Geom.C_clip_point

The data represents a point already transformed into clip coordinates; that is, these points have already been transformed for rendering directly. Panda will not transform the vertices again during rendering. Points in clip coordinates should be in 4-D homogeneous space, and thus usually have four components.

Geom.C_normal

The data represents a 3-D normal vector, perpendicular to the surface. This is different from C_vector in that it preserves this orthogonality when non-uniform scales are applied. It also makes sure that a unit length vector stays normalized when a scale is applied. New in 1.9.1; C_vector is used in earlier releases.

Geom.C_vector

The data represents a generic 3-D vector, such as a tangent, or binormal, in object coordinates. When a transform matrix is applied to the vertex data, the data in this column is transformed as a vector (that is, ignoring the matrix's translation component).

Geom.C_texcoord

The data represents a texture coordinate, either 2-D or 3-D. When a texture matrix (not a transform matrix) is applied to the vertex data, it transforms the data in this column, as a point.

Geom.C_color

The data represents an RGBA color value. If a floating-point value is used to read or write into an integer color component, it is automatically scaled from 0.0 .. 1.0 into the full integer range. Also, the default value of a color column is (1, 1, 1, 1), as opposed to any other column type, whose default value is 0. Must have 3 or 4 components.

Geom.C_index

The data represents an integer index into some table.

Geom.C_morph_delta

The data represents an offset value that will be applied to some other column during animation.

Geom.C_other

The data has some other, custom meaning; do not attempt to transform it.

getName()

The column name is the most important single piece of information to Panda. The column name tells Panda the specific meaning of the data in the column. The name is also a unique handle to the column; within a given GeomVertexFormat, there may not be two different columns with the same name.

There are a number of column names that have special meaning to Panda:

vertex

The position in space of each vertex, usually given as an (x, y, z) triple in 3-D coordinates. This is the only mandatory column for rendering geometry; all other columns are optional. The vertex is usually Geom.NTFloat32, Geom.CPoint, 3 components.

normal

The surface normal at each vertex. This is used to compute the visible effects of lighting; it is not related to the collision system, which has its own mechanism for determining the surface normal. You should have a normal column if you intend to enable lighting; if this column is not present, the object may look strange in the presence of lighting. The normal should always be Geom.NTFloat32, Geom.CVertex, 3 components.

texcoord

The U, V texture coordinate pair at each vertex, for the default coordinate set. This column is necessary in order to apply a texture to the geometry (unless you use a TexGenAttrib). It is usually a 2-D coordinate pair, but sometimes, when you are using 3-d textures or cube maps, you will need a 3-D U, V, W coordinate triple. The texcoord should be Geom.NTFloat32, Geom.CTexcoord, 2 or 3 components.

texcoord.foo

This is the U, V texture coordinate pair for the texture coordinate set with the name "foo" (where foo is any arbitrary name). It is only necessary if you need to have multiple different texture coordinate sets on a piece of geometry, in order to apply multitexturing. As with texcoord, above, it may be a 2-d or a 3-d value.

tangent
binormal

These two columns work together, along with the normal column, to implement normal maps (bump maps). They define the normal map space at each vertex. Like a normal, these should be Geom.NTFloat32, Geom.CVertex, 3 components.

tangent.foo
binormal.foo

These column names define a tangent and binormal for the texture coordinate set with the name "foo".

color

This defines an RGBA color value. If this column is not present, the default vertex color is white (unless it is overridden with a nodePath.setColor() call). Internally, OpenGL expects the color format to be Geom.NTUint8 (or Geom.NTFloat32), Geom.CColor, 4 components, while DirectX expects the color to be Geom.NTPackedDabc, Geom.CColor, 1 component. In fact, you may use either format regardless of your current rendering backend, and Panda will automatically convert the column as necessary.

rotate
size
aspect_ratio

These three columns are used when rendering sprites (that is, GeomPoints with nodePath.setRenderModeThickness() in effect). If present, they control the rotation counterclockwise in degrees, the per-vertex thickness, and the aspect ratio of the square, respectively. Each of these should be Geom.NTFloat32, Geom.COther, 1 component.

The remaining column names have meaning only to define vertex animation, for instance to implement Actors. Although these column names are documented below, vertex animation is an advanced feature of the Panda vertex representation; we recommend you let Panda take care of setting up the vertex animation tables, rather than attempting to create them yourself.

transform_blend

This is used to control vertex assignment to one or more animated transform spaces. The value in this column is an integer index into the TransformBlendTable that is associated with the GeomVertexData; each entry in the TransformBlendTable defines a different weighted combination of transform spaces, so by indexing into this table, you can associate each vertex with a different weighted combination of transform spaces.

transform_weight
transform_index

These two columns work together, in a manner similar to transform_blend, but they index into the TransformTable associated with the GeomVertexData, instead of the TransformBlendTable. This is particularly suited for sending vertices to OpenGL or DirectX to do the animation, rather than performing the animation on the CPU.

column.morph.slider

Columns with names of this form define a floating-point morph offset that should be scaled by the value of the morph slider named "slider", and then added to the column named "column" (where slider and column are arbitrary names). This is used during vertex animation on the CPU.

A column may have any name (though each name must be unique within a given GeomVertexFormat). If there are additional columns with names other than those in the above table, Panda will not do anything special with the columns, but it will send the vertex data to any vertex shader that requests that data by name, using the vtx_columnname parameter name. See List of Possible Shader Inputs.

There are also additional properties associated with each GeomVertexColumn that determine its exact offset and byte-alignment within each row of the array, but normally you do not need to worry about these, unless you are designing a GeomVertexFormat that matches some already-existing block of data. See the auto-generated API specification for more details.