COMP 764B - Computer Graphics and Animation
Winter 2008 (Advanced Topics Systems 1)

Last updated: 19 February 2008

Overview - Prerequisites - Objectives - Format - Evaluation - Project - Materials

General Information

Course Web Page
Lectures Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 in ENGMC 320
Instructor Paul Kry
Telephone 514 398 2577
Office MC113N
Office Hours By appointment (any time!)

NOTE: This is an initial course outline and it will change during the term.  Please refer to the latest version at the link above.

Additional course materials (internal access only)


Mon 7 Jan Introduction, course description, overview of topics.
Wed 9 Jan Motion capture, technology, motion reuse and modification.
Mon 14 Jan Review, ordinary differential equations and numerical integration
More Information:
  • David Baraff and Andrew Witkin, Large steps in cloth simulation, SIGGRAPH 1998
  • Computer Methods for Ordinary Differential Equations and Differential-Algebraic Equations, Uri M. Ascher and Linda R. Petzold, Chapter 3
Wed 16 Jan Review, constraints, constraint stabilization (Baumgarte, post stabilization), mathematical introduction to rigid body motion, (no time for solving linear systems, sparse systems)
More Information:
  • A Mathematical Introduction to Robotic Manipulation, R. Murray, Z. Li, and S. Sastry, Chapter 2
Mon 21 Jan More rigid body motion, screws, brief look at solving linear systems.  (no time was left for unilateral constraints, reduced physical models, e.g., Good Vibrations, DyRT).
Suggested Reading:
More Information:
Wed 23 Jan Final summary of rigid body motion, dynamics.

More Information:
  • A Mathematical Introduction to Robotic Manipulation, R. Murray, Z. Li, and S. Sastry, Chapter 4
Note: (moved) Send paper suggestions and preference of order and dates to me in email by Jan 23
Mon 28 Jan Revisit missed topics from Monday 21, plus time permitting: collision detection and response, broad phase, narrow phase, OBB, AABB, spheres, collision response, we may also touch on optimization, data fitting, and approximation.
Suggested Reading:
More Information:
Wed 30 Jan Motion capture reuse and control.  BD-Tree discussion.
Mon 4 Feb Clarke, Inverse Rendering
Wed 6 Feb Discussion of Dynamic Response for Motion Capture Animation (read for Jan 30), and
Mon 11 Feb Reading: Note: Tentative due date for final project proposal (survey paper as part of proposal if only one presentation)
Wed 13 Feb Marta, Facial Animation Perception
Mon 18 Feb More facial animation, physically based and data driven methods.
Wed 20 Feb Finish with facial animation: performance capture and resynthesis.
Hands: modeling and animating techniques, grasping, control, planning, quality.
Mon 25 Feb No class (Study break)
Wed 27 Feb No class (Study break)
Mon 3 Mar Real-time lighting and precomputed light transfer.
Wed 5 Mar Sammy, Instant Ray Tracing: The Bounding Interval Hierarchy
Mon 10 Mar Tom, Capturing and animating skin deformation in human motion
Wed 12 Mar Fahim, Wave Particles
Mon 17 Mar Skinning: PSD, EigenSkin, MWE, Character Skins from Examples.
Wed 19 Mar cancelled
Mon 24 Mar No class (Easter Monday)
Wed 26 Mar More Skinning: dual quaternions, skinning mesh animations.
Mon 31 Mar Fahim, SPH fluid simulation
Wed 2 Apr Advanced motion capture analysis
Mon 7 Apr Reading:
Wed 9 Apr Marta, motion exaggeration
Tue 15 Apr Final project demos, meet at 5pm in MC110A


Recent advances in computer graphics and animation are permitting new levels of realism and interactivity with benefits to a variety of applications such as video games, movies, and training simulations. The goal of this course is to expose students to a sample of these new and advanced techniques and to help each student develop an understanding of the state of the art in computer animation research. The format of the course will be seminar style with in class student presentations and discussions of important and recent publications. Example topics may include motion capture processing, animating humans and animals, character skinning, acoustics, rigid body dynamics, deformable objects, collision detection and response, physically based methods, and more. The course will also involve a final project.


This course is intended for graduate students in Computer Science or Electrical and Computer Engineering. It is also open to other students with permission of the instructor. Students taking this course will ideally have taken an introductory computer graphics course, and and have good knowledge of linear algebra, calculus, for working through papers. Strong programming skills will also be helpful in completing the course project.


The objective of this course is to have students develop an understanding of the state of the art in computer graphics and animation. This will be achieved by reading, analyzing, and discussing the new ideas and advanced techniques presented in recent publications. At the end of the term, students will have a good idea of the current important challenges in computer animation research. Students may also be able to reuse general methods and techniques covered during the term in their own research. Finally, a general objective is for students to gain experience in reading and presenting research articles, which should be of benefit when they carry out their thesis research.

Course Format and Evaluation

The class will be taught in a seminar-style format. The first weeks be lectures presented by the instructor to review background material, but most classes will consist of student presentations and a group discussion. You should find your own papers to read and present, but a summary of papers in different areas will be provided in class to help those who are looking for a place to start. You will be expected to present one time during the term, and you will need to provide a list of a few papers that interest you for the second week of class. The selected papers will be grouped into different themes, and if there are overlaps you may be asked to choose an alternative paper.

Presentations will be approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length. You are also expected to read the papers for each class, and must be ready to discuss ideas in the paper.  Discussion will clarify questions such as the real contributions and impact of the paper,
the relationship does it has to other papers and current practices, the limitations of the method and how it could be improved, etc.

In addition to the one presentation that is expected, you write a short survey on a area of interest to you.  Alternatively, you can present a second time as an alternative.
There are three components to the grading scheme.
    • 40% paper presentation / paper survey or 2nd presentation
    • 20% class participation
    • 40% final project

Academic Integrity

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.  See for more information, as well as, the Student Guide to Avoid Plagiarism.

Final project

Each student will complete a final project of their choosing, either alone or in a group.  A project should be an implementation of the key parts of one one of the papers discussed in class. If possible, students should also try to incorporate something new or novel in their projects. This could be a small extension of a method, an analysis, an evaluation, or some additional feature. A brief one page proposal proposal will be submitted for approval. A final report along with source code, videos, images and any other relevant material will be due at the end of the term. The report should be brief but thorough and should highlight what you learned, what was easier than expected, what was harder, and what you wish you knew before starting. More details will be provided in class and on this web page later in the term.

Course Materials

All the articles and papers needed for readings and presentations in this course should be available online. Use Tim Rowley's site, Google scholar, Citeseer, the ACM digital library, or look for the paper directly on the web page of one of the authors. If you are using an Internet connection at home, you may need to use a McGill library VPN connection to access some resources.
Note that videos of some SIGGRAPH presentations in recent years can be found online in the ACM Digital Library. Many are good examples to emulate, though class presentations may want to focus on different aspects. Some advice for giving good presentations will be provided in class, while lots of additional advice for giving a good presentation can be found on the web.