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tutorial 2
T2  Populating Virtual Environments with Crowds

Date: Monday, September 3rd, Time: 14:00 - 17:30, Location: Lecture Room 209

Organizers:  Daniel Thalmann (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Carol O’Sullivan (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)
 
Speakers:  Daniel Thalmann (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Carol O’Sullivan (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)
Barbara Yersin (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland )
Jonathan Maim (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Rachel McDonnell (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)


Abstract

For many years, it was a challenge to produce realistic virtual crowds for special effects in movies. Now, there is a new challenge: the production of real-time autonomous Virtual Crowds. Real-time crowds are necessary for games, VR systems for training and simulation and crowds in Augmented Reality applications. Autonomy is the only way to create believable crowds reacting to events in real-time. This course will present state-of-the-art techniques and methods.


    

    



Extended Summary

The necessity to model virtual populations occurs in many applications of computer animation and simulation. Such applications encompass several different domains – representative or autonomous agents in virtual environments, perceptual metrics and human factors, training, education, simulation-based design, and entertainment. Realistically reproducing dynamic life in the real-time simulation of virtual environments is also a great challenge.

In this course, we will first present in detail the different approaches to creating virtual crowds, including particle systems with flocking techniques using attraction and repulsion forces, copy and pasting techniques, and agent-based methods.

We will survey methods for animating the individual members that make up a crowds, encompassing a variety of approaches, with particular focus on how example-based synthesis methods can be adapted for crowds. Agent architectures for scalable crowd simulation will also be presented.

The course will cover the topics of real-time crowd rendering, including image-based/impostor, polygonal and point-based techniques. The topic of Level of Detail (LOD) crowd animation will also be covered, not only for rendering, but also for animation. Perceptual issues with respect to the appearance and movement of crowds of characters will be addressed.

New challenges in the production of real-time crowds for games, VR systems for training and simulation will be presented and analysed, with an emphasis on techniques for highly scalable crowd rendering. The course will be illustrated with many examples from recent movies and real-time applications in Emergency Scenarios and Cultural Heritage (such as adding virtual audiences in Roman or Greek theaters).


Speakers' Background

Daniel Thalmann is Professor and Director of The Virtual Reality Lab (VRlab) at EPFL, Switzerland. He is a pioneer in research on Virtual Humans. His current research interests include Real-time Virtual Humans in Virtual Reality, Networked Virtual Environments, Artificial Life, and Multimedia. He is coeditor-in-chief of the Journal of Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds and member of the editorial board of the Visual Computer and 4 other journals. Daniel Thalmann was a member of numerous Program Committees, Co-chair, and Program Co-chair of several conferences including IEEE VR 2000. He has also organized 5 courses at SIGGRAPH on human animation and crowd simulation. Daniel Thalmann has published numerous papers in Graphics, Animation, and Virtual Reality. He is coeditor of 30 books included the recent “Handbook of Virtual Humans”, published by John Wiley and Sons and coauthor of several books. He received his PhD in Computer Science in 1977 from the University of Geneva and an Honorary Doctorate (Honoris Causa) from University Paul-Sabatier in Toulouse, France, in 2003.

Carol O'Sullivan is an Associate Professor and acting head of the Computer Science department in Trinity College Dublin, where she also leads the Graphics, Vision and Visualisation group (GV2). Her research interests include computer graphics, perception, virtual humans, crowds, and physically-based animation. She has managed a range of projects with significant budgets and successfully supervised many researchers. She has been a member of many IPCs, including the SIGGRAPH and Eurographics papers committees, and has published about 90 peer-reviewed papers. She is an associate editor of IEEE CG&A and Graphical models, and has organised and co-chaired several international conferences and workshops, including Eurographics 2005, the SIGGRAPH/EG Symposium on Computer Animation 2006 and the SIGGRAPH/EG Campfire on Perceptually Adaptive Graphics 2001.

Rachel McDonnell is a postdoctoral researcher at the Graphics, Vision and Visualisation Group in Trinity College Dublin where she recently finished her PhD entitled "Realistic Crowd Animation: A Perceptual Approach". Her research interests include perceptually adaptive graphics, real-time crowd simulation, virtual human animation and cloth simulation.

Barbara Yersin is a PhD student at the VRLab, EPFL. She has achieved her Master project at the University of Montreal, after which she has received her Master in Computer Science in March 2005 from EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne). Her main interests are in computer graphics, particularly crowd simulation and animation.

Jonathan Maim is PhD student at VRlab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). In April 2005, he receives a Master Degree in Computer Science from EPFL after achieving his Master Project at the University of Montréal. His research efforts are concentrated on building an architecture for simulating real-time crowds of virtual humans.



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