Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Figure 11-3. Quaternion rotation
You can readily see that quaternions, when used to represent rotation or orientation,
require you to deal with only four parameters instead of nine, subject to the easily
satisfied constraint that the quaternion be a unit quaternion.
The use of quaternions to represent orientation is similar to how you would use rotation
matrices. First, you set up a quaternion that represents the initial orientation of the rigid
body at time 0 (this is the only time you'll calculate the quaternion explicitly). Then you
update the orientation to reflect the new orientation at a given instant in time using the
angular velocities that are calculated for that instant. As you can see here, the differential
equation relating an orientation quaternion to angular velocity is very similar to that
for rotation matrices:
d q /dt = (1/2) ω q
Here, the angular velocity is written in quaternion form as [0, ω ] and is expressed in
fixed, global coordinates. ( ω is still angular velocity, but you have to put it in quaternion
form instead of vector form when multiplying it by a quaternion q .) If ω is expressed in
rotating, body-fixed coordinates, then you need to use this equation:
d q /dt = (1/2) q ω
As with rotation matrices, you can use quaternions to rotate points or vectors. If v is a
vector, then v ' is the rotated vector subject to the quaternion q :
v ' = qvq *
Here q * is the conjugate of the quaternion q defined as:
q * = q 0 - q x i - q y j - q z k
You can also use the preceding formula to convert vectors from one coordinate system
to another, where one is rotated relative to the other. You have to do this, for example,
in your simulations where you are converting forces defined in fixed, global coordinates
 
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