Computer Graphics and Animation

Synopsis of the Research Area

In today’s world, computer-generated graphics are everywhere – television, movies, weather reports, games, architecture, business forecasts, and in all types of medical procedures. Computer graphics can simulate things that do not yet exist, and can portray places that are invisible, such as internal structures in a human body. Related fields include scientific and information visualization, image processing, and computational geometry. Applications of computer graphics include animation, special effects, computer-aided design and digital art.

Visualization and Physical Modeling

In many physical systems, motion can arise that is so complex that it is necessary to visualize the range of possible behaviors of the system to get a better idea of the system’s overall behavior. Modeling natural phenomena like the human body and cloth require highly detailed models that accurately reflect the physical characteristics of the object. This is coupled with the need for the model to provide an interface which is intuitive for an artist to use to animate the object.

Faculty: John McDonald, Rosalee Wolfe, Glenn Lancaster, Eric Sedgwick

J. Montgomery, J. McDonald, J. Sakimoto, Enhancing Visualization of Large Topography Data Maps by Reducing Data Access Time. Proceedings of the 2008 International Conference on Information & Knowledge Engineering, IKE 2008, July 2008, pp. 371-375.

John McDonald, Fractal Classifications of Trajectories in a Non-Linear Mass-Spring. Computers and Graphics, Elsevier Science, Volume 30, No 5, 2006, pp. 815-833.

John McDonald, Rosalee Wolfe, Karen Alkoby, Roymeico Carter, Mary Jo Davidson, Jacob Furst, Damien Hinkle, Bret Kroll, Glenn Lancaster, Lori Smallwood, Nedjla Ougouag, Jerry Schnepp. Achieving Consistency in an FK/IK Interface for a Seven Degree of Freedom Kinematic Chain, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference in Central Europe on Computer Graphics, Visualization and Interactive Digital Media 2005, Plzen, Czech Republic, February 2005, pp 171-179.

John McDonald, Jorge Toro, Karen Alkoby, André Berthiaume, Roymieco Carter, Pattaraporn Chomwong, Juliet Christopher, Mary Jo Davidson, Jacob Furst, Brian Konie, Glenn Lancaster, Lopa Roychoudhuri, Eric Sedgwick, Noriko Tomuro, Rosalee Wolfe. An improved articulated model of the human hand. The Visual Computer 17 (3) May 2001. 158-166.

Human Animation for Sign Language Synthesis

Translating from one language to another requires a method for synthesizing sentences in the target language. The challenges of using character animation for sign language synthesis include representing animation to maximize reusability and incorporating linguistic with numeric information. Our goal is an avatar capable of creating any utterance of American Sign Language in a grammatical, naturalistic manner. For more information on publications and grants, see

Faculty: Rosalee Wolfe, John McDonald, Glenn Lancaster

Students: Jerry Schnepp, Brent Shiver, Lindsay Semler, Jeff Young

Jerry Schnepp, Rosalee Wolfe, John C. McDonald. Synthetic Corpora: A Synergy of Linguistics and Computer Animation. Fourth Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Corpora and Sign Language Technologies LREC 2010. Valetta, Malta. May 23, 2010.

Rosalee Wolfe, Peter Cook, John McDonald and Jerry Schnepp. Toward a Better Understanding of Nonmanual Signals through Acquisition and Synthesis. Presented at Nonmanuals in Sign Languages (NISL) Frankfurt am Main, Germany. April 5, 2009.

Karen Alkoby. Toward True ASL Dictionaries: New Development in Handshape Similarity. Deaf Studies Today! Orem, Utah, April 12, 2008.

Rosalee Wolfe, John McDonald, Mary Jo Davidson, and Frank, Carrie. Using an Animation-based Technology to Support Reading Curricula for Deaf Elementary Schoolchildren. The 22nd Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference. Los Angeles, CA March 21, 2007.

Computer Graphics Pedagogy

Computer graphics is a meld of art, computer science and mathematics and the successful practitioner must be fluent in all three. However, mastery of all three poses different challenges, depending on a person’s background. For example, an artist learns mathematics differently from a computer scientist. Our goal is to make all three areas accessible through a common visual language.

Faculty: Stephen Luecking, John McDonald, Rosalee Wolfe, Eric Sedgwick

John McDonald, Teaching Quaternions is not Complex, Proceedings of Eurographics 2009, the 30th Annual Conference of the European Association for Computer Graphics. April 2, 2009. Education Papers, pp. 51 – 58.

John McDonald and Rosalee Wolfe. Using Computer Graphics to Foster Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Capstone Courses. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. 24 (1) October 2008 83-90.

Rosalee Wolfe, Steve Luecking, John McDonald, Jacob Furst, Eric Sedgwick, Roy Carter, Nedjla Ougouag-Tiouririne. Curricular Considerations for Supporting Careers in Computer Graphics. Journal of Computer Science Education. 13 (1), 31-52.

Rosalee Wolfe. Teaching Visual Aspects in an Introductory Computer Graphics Course. Computer and Graphics. 26 (1) February 2002. 163-168.