AGOCG logo
Graphics Multimedia VR Visualisation Contents
Training Reports Workshops Briefings Index

Eurographics UK '97 Conference Report

This year's Eurographics UK event, the 15th Annual Conference, was held at the University of East Anglia in Norwich over a three day period spanning 24 - 26 March 1997. The conference themes were:

The first day of the conference consisted of a number of tutorial sessions. I attended the VRML 2.0: Primitives to Animation session by Chris Thornborrow of Silicon Graphics. I found it to be an excellent introduction to the area which started with some basic concepts and ended with a number of excellent demonstrations including a solar system demonstration, a Luxo lamp Tribute and an animated VRML knight with a .WRL file size of less than 10k! An on-line version of this tutorial will be available on the SG site at:

A number of delegates including myself travelled to the Televirtual Studio (known as "The Captivity Unit") in Norwich. Here Marcus Tutt, the Head Computer Scientist at the company, presented a tutorial on the Practical Aspects of Motion Capture Technology. The company has carried out motion capture work for television, computer games companies and corporate clients. Marcus discussed various methods of motion capture, concentrating on optical and electromagnetic systems, but also touching on mechanical, ultrasonic and rotoscoping methods. Motion capture has a number of advantages over traditional alternatives such as keyframing and inverse kinematics including extremely life-like animation, speed of production and artistic control. However, a big disadvantage is that motion is so good that if the overlying image is poor, it tends to look like the proverbial "man in a rubber suit". The pros and cons of using optical and electromagnetic systems were discussed and an example of an actual optical motion capture was demonstrated using a dancer to provide the motion. The result being displayed as a 'skeletal' motion on a PC.

The second day began with an amusing and interesting personal history of Visualization and Multimedia by Terry Hewitt of Manchester Computer Graphics Unit. Terry discussed his involvement in Graphics since 1973 to the present date and also his expectations for the next ten years. Terry's talk was followed by the morning Virtual Environment session held in parallel with a series of algorithms presentations. Papers presented at this session included Dime - An Object Orientated Scripting Language for the Automatic Creation of 3D Environments, describing a tool that is being used for the generation of user interfaces for the Virtual Science Park project, and Structured walk throughs for a virtual university, describing a project that created a 3-dimensional walk through of the Computer Science Department at Exeter University. The afternoon VR Techniques began with a paper on fast collision detection techniques for virtual clothing, a method of detection and response between the mannequin and cloth meshes that will be used in virtual shopping applications. This was followed by a presentation on stereo morphing using SMUDGE, a technique used in 360° panoramas to avoid the disorientation of "teleporting" from one location to the next. The final presentation of the afternoon session was on real-time control of intelligent agents, describing an advanced algorithmic approach for behaviour control and intellectual control of 3D characters. This session was held in parallel with a multimedia session.

After tea, parallel imaging and VR in Edutainment sessions were available. I attended the VR session where the construction of a VRML football stadium was described. A VRML model of Ipswich Town's Portman Road Ground was developed and practical applications such as the ability to book tickets (using PERL scripting) and in-training of match officials were discussed. This was followed by a paper detailing the computer reconstruction of the Badshahi Mosque in Pakistan. The Mosque is regarded as one of the most important in the world, and was recreated using Alias-Wavefront 3D modelling tools and is another example of research in the new area of 'Virtual Heritage'.

On the final day the invited speaker was Chris Greenhalgh from the University of Nottingham who detailed the issues associated with inhabited TV, the idea of situating the viewer in a shared virtual world. This technology is currently developing in Collaborative Virtual Environment Research, military training environments and VRML graphical chat systems. Chris discussed the key issues for the successful use of this medium which include scalability, including other forms of media, user representation within the environment and the breakdown of barriers between the real and physical world.

Of the parallel morning sessions on offer, I attended the Visualization/Virtual Environments session which had a particularly geographical flavour, with papers on Visualization and analysis of data for the earth sciences, Visualization of event stream analysis, and the issues involved in designing a virtual field course.

The paper on data analysis for earth sciences concentrated on the fact that as data in this area is generally sparse, it is important to make full use of it and in some cases 'add value' during the reconstruction process. Two particular areas were highlighted, the modelling of coal seams based on borehole data and the reconstruction of palaeontological specimens.

The event stream analysis paper described approaches to visualizing data contained in log files from simulation applications. Also highlighted was the use of VRML 2 to re-animate files into 3D movies of the events and the suggestion that re-animation will be a particularly useful technique in this domain.

The final paper in the session detailed a JTAP funded study to design a virtual field course (VFC). Five educational contexts for the VFC were discussed including enhancement of observation, evaluation and synthesis, interaction, extension of the field course to physically challenging environments, replacement of existing courses and efficiency in using the VFC for pre- and post-course review.

The Plenary Session was held after lunch. The Ken Brodlie Award for the Best Paper was presented to Watson, Wright and Middleton for the paper SMUDGE: Stereo Morphing Using Differential Geometric Epipoles. The keynote speech was presented by Prof John A Vince entitled "I have seen the future and it doesn't work!", an extremely entertaining discussion of the relative merits of touch tone phones, the Internet and virtual reality vacuum cleaners!

Future Events

Eurographics '97 will be held in Budapest, Hungary on 4 - 8 September 1997. For further information see:

Eurographics UK '98 will be held at the University of Leeds on 25 - 27 March 1998. Conference themes will include physically based modelling and the use of simulation for training.


Many thanks to David Arnold and the rest of the Eurographics UK Executive Committee for organising an excellent event.

Contact Details

Eurographics UK can be contacted at:

Eurographics UK
PO Box 38
OX14 1PX, UK

Pat Costello
AGOCG VR Support Officer
Advanced VR Research Centre
Department of Human Sciences
Loughborough University of Technology
LE11 3TU, UK

Tel: +44 1509 222749
Fax: +44 1509 223940