Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision
(CS 528)

Physical Simulation in Visual Effects

Doug Roble
November 14, 2005, 4:15PM
Hewlett (TCSeq) 200


The art of visual effects can be neatly divided into two camps: character animation and everything else. Good character animators have unique abilities to coax the illusion of life out of an object. That is not what this talk is about! We're going to examine the everything else: The art of simulating physical things in movies. This started with simple particle systems moving small masses using f = m a, but has now grown to encompass all natural (and unnatural) phenomena.

The process usually starts simply with a line in a screenplay like, "The dam starts to collapse." This is then drawn as a picture by a storyboard artist collaborating with the director. After that, a visual effects company gets it with the command, "Make it look cool. And real." Then the fun begins.

Using fluid dynamics as an example, we will go through the process and technology of physical simulation in a visual effects company, how artists work and how the software is developed. We will concentrate on the current state of the art and what challenges lie ahead for us.

About the Speaker

Dr. Doug Roble is the Creative Director of the Software Department at Digital Domain, the multiple Academy Award-winning visual effects studio located in Venice, CA. He has been writing software and doing research since he joined the company in 1993. In 1999, Doug won a Scientific and Technical Achievement Academy Award for his 3D tracking/scene reconstruction program, "track".

Doug's interests cover widely different areas of computer graphics. He has written many different software tools including a fluid dynamics package, a motion capture editing and manipulation tool, a complete computer vision toolkit and many others.

Before Digital Domain, Doug received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from The Ohio State University in 1993. He received his Master's from Ohio State and his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado.


Back to the Colloquium Page