CG International 95, Leeds, UK
25-30 June 1995
Part II (Part I is in Issue No 42)
Human to human communication is the highest bandwidth of communication, based as it is upon face, gesture and voice. Computer graphics and associated tools and facilities are now reaching the stage where such communications can be done electronically, thus facilitating human to human communication via machine. A key phrase for this development is broadband, digital, interactive, cross-platform 3D. Games technology is fuelling the demand for creative freedom and interaction. Visual technology is now an integral part of the world's markets.
Simulations and models can be visualized using modern tools. In the Americas Cup yacht race in 1995 the New Zealand boat was trimmed every night from simulation data in order to accomplish the best gains the following day. The race itself was presented in visual terms by obtaining the position of each yacht electronically from global positioning data (via satellite). This was used to generate photorealistic models of the boats and their positions relative to one another. Computer assisted analysis of sporting events can thus take place in real time.
Similar developments are taking place in the design and modelling of cars, the design of aircraft, and virtual TV sets and studios. The Ford Global Design Studio links together 120 SGI Onyx workstations via broadband networks. Standards such as OpenGL and VRML are accelerating the process of collaboration and exchange of data.
Dr Kurt Akeley, Vice-President and Chief Scientist at Silicon Graphics Inc, outlined current developments in OpenGL and VRML. He noted that computer graphics was no longer about vertices but rather about images and video. VRML had provided a common 3D language for the World-Wide Web to provide real, interactive 3D graphics.
Professor Kunii, President of the University of Aizu, Japan, and founder of CGS, described new methods for dealing with characteristics of surfaces to allow a complete representation for modelling and analysis purposes.
Professor Nadia Magnenat Thalmann, University of Geneva, described how the Terra Cotta Soldiers in the Emperor's ancient tomb in Xian in China had been modelled. Walking, grasping, body deformation had all been accomplished, along with clothes, facial expressions and hair.
Professor Daniel Thalmann, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, outlined methods for using particle systems to produce and model deformable surfaces. Such techniqueshave direct application in computer animation.
Dr Mikael Jern, Vice-President Technology, AVS/UNIRAS, outlined the market trends in graphics and visualization from an industrial viewpoint. He noted the development of visualization techniques into a mature discipline, and the use of visualization in presentations at many levels. Visualization tools were used in the scientific area by about 2000 to 3000 users. A larger number (10,000 to 20,000) used visualization for data analysis. The largest number of all (30,000 to 40,000) were interested to apply graphics and visualization techniques in business.
Visualization may be divided into three areas: exploratory, presentation, and publication. The first may be described as "I see", the second as "You see", and the third as "They see".
Visualization User Interface (VUI) technology is being developed to allow a more object-oriented and picture-centric way of interacting with the data. Visual programming and component ware is a more natural way of building up an application. Graphics standards are moving more towards OpenGL now that it is available on the PC.
Prof Nelson Max, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, described his work in computer animation and scientific visualization, and how special effects in climate modelling (eg clouds) had been produced. An ambitious programme on the generation of life (for Fujitsu) taking 1.5 years was described, illustrating how photosynthesis produced plant material which in turn produced energy in mammals.
Prof Robert Stone, Intelligent Systems Solutions Ltd, concluded the Conference by outlining a short history of virtual reality and its potential for the future. Headsets were coming down in price and were becoming lighter and more user friendly. Use of VR technology was now becoming more acceptable, enabling companies to do simulations and walk-throughs before implementation of designs.
Developments such as Virtual Reality Centres would help to strengthen the links between the developers and industry and facilitate greater technology transfer. Health and safety issues need to be addressed more carefully.
A further 31 international reviewed submitted papers were also presented at the Conference.
A book containing full details of the edited and revised papers presented at the Conference is now available. The title is Computer Graphics: Developments in Virtual Environments Eds R A Earnshaw, J A Vince.ISBN 0-12-227741-4. Academic Press, pp 503, 1995.
The Conference Committee and CGS express their thanks to all those who assisted in the arrangements for the Conference, reviewed papers, presented Courses and Papers, and chaired sessions. Thanks are also due to Silicon Graphics for sponsoring the Reception and supporting the Conference.