Keynote Talk 1: Rob Cook, Pixar Animation Studios
Movie Making at Pixar: A Collaboration of Art and Technology
Wednesday 31st August, 2005. 09:30-10:30.
VENUE: Burke Theatre
SESSION CHAIR: Joe Marks
This talk takes you behind the scenes at Pixar Animation Studios for an in-depth look at
how its 3D computer graphics films are made. Making a computer animate film
involves people with artistic talent and people with technical skills working together
in close collaboration. The process starts with the development of the story and
continues with modeling the geometry, adding articulation controls, using those
controls to animate the characters, simulating things like water and cloth and hair,
defining the look of the surfaces, putting lights in the scene, adding special effects,
rendering, and post-production. Special emphasis is given to the roles of technology
and computer graphics research in supporting the filmmaker.
ROB COOK has a B.S. in Physics from Duke University and an M.S.
in Computer Graphics from Cornell University. At Cornell, he and Ken Torrance
developed a physically based model of light-surface interaction that could
realistically simulate color and shading; prior to this work, computer-generated
images had been limited to a distinctly plastic look. In 1981, he joined
Lucasfilm / Pixar where
he extended this work and developed the first programmable shader for
simulating complex surface appearances.
He was the first to apply Monte Carlo techniques to rendering. Together with
colleagues at Lucasfilm, he solved several of the thorniest long-standing
problems in computer graphics: antialiasing point sampling and ray-tracing,
simulating camera effects such as motion blur and depth of field, and rendering soft shadows, glossy reflections and translucency. Motion blur and depth of field proved particularly important in the special effects industry, because they allow computer-generated imagery to match the live-action footage with which they are combined. In 1987, he received the ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award in recognition of these contributions.
Rob was the co-architect and primary author of Pixar's RenderMan software,
which is acknowledged as the industry standard for photo-realistic rendering.
Of the last 35 films nominated for Visual Effects Oscars, 33 have used RenderMan.
In 2001 he and two colleagues received the first Oscar ever given for software.
He is currently the Vice President of Research and Development
Keynote Talk 2: Steven Collins, co-founder of Havok
Kinematics, Dynamics, Biomechanics: Evolution of Autonomy in Game Animation
Thursday, 1st September, 2005. 16:00-17:00.
VENUE: Burke Theatre
SESSION CHAIR: Carol O'Sullivan
The believable portrayal of character performances is critical in engaging the immersed player in interactive entertainment. The story, the emotion and the relationship between the player and the world they are interacting within are hugely dependent on how appropriately the world's characters look, move and behave. We're concerned here with the character's motion; with next generation game consoles like Xbox360™ and Playstation®3 the graphical representation of characters will take a major step forward which places even more emphasis on the motion of the character. The behavior of the character is driven by story and design which are adapted to game context by the game's AI system. The motion of the characters populating the game's world, however, is evolving to an interesting blend of kinematics, dynamics, biomechanics and AI driven motion planning.
Our goal here is to present the technologies involved in creating what are essentially character automata, emotionless and largely brainless character shells that nevertheless exhibit enough "behavior" to move as directed while adapting to the environment through sensing and actuating responses. This abstracts the complexities of low level motion control, dynamics, collision detection etc. and allows the game's artificial intelligence system to direct these characters at a higher level.
While much research has already been conducted in this area and some great results have been published, we will present the particular issues that face game developers working on current and next generation consoles, and how these technologies may be integrated into game production pipelines so facilitate the creation of character performances in games. The challenges posed by the limited memory and CPU bandwidth (though this is changing somewhat with next generation) and the challenges of integrating these solutions with current game design approaches leads to some interesting problems, some of which the industry has solutions for and some others which still remain largely unsolved..
STEVEN COLLINS is the Chief Technical Officer of Havok and is
responsible for developing and executing Havok's technology strategy. Havok
is the most powerful physics game engine available for PlayStation2R, XboxT,
GameCubeT and the PC. Havok technology is being used the world's leading
game developers including EA, Valve, Pandemic, and Midway to enhance
gameplay. Havok is also used to drive special effects in movies such as The
Matrix and Troy, was used for online 3D applications including Shockwave 3D
and Adobe Atmosphere and is the dynamics driving 3ds max from Discreet, a
division of Autodesk. Havok was founded in 1998 by Hugh Reynolds and Steven
Collins and has its origins in the computer science department of Trinity
College Dublin, Ireland. Prior to co-founding Havok, Steven started the
computer graphics research group in Trinity College Dublin and was instrumental in
building this group into a significant research organization in the college.
He lectured in computer graphics and computer programming in the Department
of Computer Science from 1994 to 1999. He began his games career developing
commercial titles on the Commodore 64.
Keynote Talk 3: Pat Hanrahan, Stanford University
Realistic or Abstract Imagery: The Future of Computer Graphics?
Friday 2nd of September, 2005. 14:00-15:00.
VENUE: Burke Theatre
SESSION CHAIR: Rob Cook
The big idea in computer graphics, what makes CG different from other ways
of making images, is that CG represents images symbolically.
The artist or designer creates a symbolic representation of the
image, and the computer converts that representation to physical
media. Because computational processes are so flexible, we have
the freedom to invent any abstract representation that suits our needs.
Somewhat surprisingly, most of computer graphics
research has focused on the science and technology needed to
make photorealistic images representing the physical world.
In this talk, I will argue that we should shift our
focus to developing techniques for manipulating abstract image
Historically, abstract imagery is more recent and more innovative
than realistic imagery.
Functionally, abstract image representations are often more informative
and more expressive than realistic ones.
More fundamentally, abstract image models better depict our mental
models of the world, and are hence more useful to most people that
use computer graphics in their work. In addition to motivating this
line of research, I will outline some potentially promising
PAT HANRAHAN is the CANON USA Professor of Computer Science and
Electrical Engineering at Stanford University
where he teaches computer graphics. His current research involves visualization,
image synthesis, and graphics systems and architectures. Before joining Stanford
he was a faculty member at Princeton. He has also worked at Pixar where he
developed volume rendering software and was the chief architect of the
RenderManTM Interface - a protocol that allows modeling programs to
describe scenes to high-quality rendering programs. Previous to Pixar he
directed the 3D computer graphics group in the Computer Graphics
Laboratory at New York Institute of Technology. Professor Hanrahan has
received three university teaching awards. He has received two Academy
Awards for Science and Technology, the Spirit of America Creativity Award,
the SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award, and the
SIGGRAPH Stephen A. Coons Award. He was recently elected to the National
Academy of Engineering.