Section: Overall Objectives

Scientific goals

With the fast increase of computational power and of memory space, increasingly complex and detailed 3D content is expected for virtual environments. Unfortunately, 3D modeling methodologies did not evolve as fast: while capture of real objects or motion restrict the range of possible content, using standard tools to design each 3D shape, animate them, and manually control camera trajectories is time consuming and entirely leaves the quality of results in the user’s hand. Lastly, procedural generation methods, when applicable, save user’s time but often come at the price of control.

The goal of IMAGINE is to develop a new generation of models, algorithms and interactive environments for easily creating and conveying animated 3D scenes.

Our insight is to revisit models for shapes, motion, stories and virtual cinematography from a user-centred perspective, i.e. to give models an intuitive, predictable behaviour from the user’s view-point. This will ease both semi-automatic generation of animated 3D content and fine tuning of the results.

  • Therefore, our first scientific focus is the development of high-level models - namely, novel representations expressing a priori knowledge – providing the appropriate handles for conveying user intent while embedding procedural methods aimed at the fast generation of detailed content.

  • Our second scientific focus is the combination of these models with intuitive control tools, towards interactive environments where users can create a new virtual scene, play with it, edit or refine it.

These models will be used within different environments for interactive content creation, dedicated to specific applications. More precisely, three main fields will be addressed:

  1. Shape design: We aim to develop intuitive tools for designing and editing 3D shapes, from arbitrary ones to shapes that obey application-dependent constraints - such as, for instance, being developable for surfaces aimed at representing objects made of cloth or of paper.

  2. Motion synthesis: Our goal is to ease the interactive generation and control of 3D motion and deformations, in particular by enabling intuitive, coarse to fine design of animations. The applications will range from the simulation of passive objects to the control of virtual creatures.

  3. Narrative design: The aim is to help users to express, refine and convey temporal narrations, from stories to educational or industrial scenarios. We will develop both virtual direction tools such as interactive storyboarding frameworks, and high-level models for virtual cinematography, such as rule-based cameras able to automatically follow the ongoing action.

In addition to addressing specific needs of digital artists, this research will contribute to the development of new expressive media for 3D content. The long term goal would be to enable any professional or scientist to model and interact with their object of study, to provide educators with ways to quickly express and convey their ideas, and to give the general public the ability to directly create animated 3D content.