CS Colloquium: Physical Motion Control and Analysis in Games, Visual Effects
and Training.

Monday, March 26, 2012
ENGR 4201 
Brian Allen


The synthesis of realistic motion is a key component of visual effects and
computer games. Correspondingly, the dual problem of recognizing a
particular grace in motion, has the potential to improve the training of
movement skills and animation. As humans become proficient with a manual
skill, their motion becomes more fluid, more efficient and more compliant.
Physical simulation, now cheap and ubiquitous, is a promising means for
creating and understanding motion. In contrast to key-frame animation or
motion capture, characters driven by physical laws can move in new, dynamic
and unforeseen ways in response to their environment and user interaction.
However, a key challenge with using physically simulated characters is
developing controllers capable of reproducing the fluidity and compliance of
well-practiced motion.

In this talk, I will present new approaches for both the control and the
analysis of fluid and compliant physical motion. For control, I will
introduce a novel solution to a classic, low-level control equation. This
solution provides an analytic method for determining the character's
compliance, that is, how the simulated character will respond to unexpected
collisions. I will also introduce a biologically inspired method for
generating high-level controllers capable of complex and dynamic whole-body

Additionally, I will show that such control techniques can also serve in the
analysis of human motion, for example, in estimating motor-skill level based
only on observed motion, or in predicting future movements. I will
illustrate both synthesis and analysis of motion with examples from a range
of applications in computer games, visual effects, robotics, virtual reality
and medical training. 

Speaker's Bio

Brian F. Allen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Media
Innovation at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His
research focuses on natural motion and physical simulation with applications
to games, visual effects and medicine. He has ten years of software
development experience, including working with Industrial Light and Magic
R&D, University of Southern California's Institute for Creative
Technologies, and co-founding and serving as CTO of Silicon Age, a San
Francisco-based software consultancy. He received his B.S. in Computer
Science from Iowa State University and his PhD from the University of
California, Los Angeles with the advisement of Petros Faloutsos.