Proj 1

Proj 2

Proj 3

maya plugin info

CS 838-1 Computer Animation

This is the "home" page for the course, where I'll make announcements and things. I make no claims of any kind of organization. In fact, I am opting for the moreminimalist web page. We'll see the flashy and fun stuff in class. The 2000 and 1999 web page have a lot more things like discussions of papers and whatnot.

The description of Project 3 is online!

Alex has put a page describing how to write Maya scripts and Plugins online.

The description of Project 2 is online!

The submissions for the 2nd Art Assignment are online!

Project 1 is online!

The Art Assignments are online!
Here are the submissions for Assignment 1.

At some point, I will organize the web site. For now, the only other thing here is the reader. Soon, there should be a calendar, and a description of projects, ...

The other thing you need to know is that the papers repository is NOT on the web. (A small number of them are, and are linked to from the reader.). The papers archive is on AFS in ~cs838-1/public/Reader (thats P:/course/cs838-gleicher/public/Reader for those of you in Windows land). There you will find not only PDFs for the reader, but for the supplemental readings as well.

For lack of a better place to put it, this is the schedule for the first "real week"

The reader should be available at the DOIT store Tuesday or Wednesday. The papers are in the repository, but I would prefer if you bought the reader rather than printing them out.

Stuff you need to know:


Mike Gleicher, gleicher@cs.wisc.edu, 6385 CS&S
office hours: Wednesday 1:30-3:30, or by appointment

Alex Mohr, amohr@cs.wisc.edu
office hours: by appointment

Class Meeting

The class is scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 11am-12:15. We will make arrangements if you want to take Amos Ron's CS514 class.

The scheduled room is 2345 engineering.

You will probably notice that this is 225 minutes per week, rather than 150 (which is what a 3 credit class is supposed to meet for). This is done to give us flexibility in how we use the time.

Some days, we will meet for 50 minutes (11-11:50).
Some days, we will meet for the whole 75 minutes.
Some days, we will meet for 50 minutes, let students who need to leave go to Amos Ron's 514 lecture, and have a continuation of the discussion with everyone else.
Some days, you will meet with your project group or something else like that.
Some days we just won't have class.

Class is not optional. You must come. On time, and prepared to talk about what we're going to talk about. I will keep score.

If you're in doubt if class is canceled, err on the side of showing up. You'll run into other confused classmates. Go get a cup of coffee and have a discussion about animation topics.


A strong motivation and desire to learn about the art and technical aspects of computer animation, and a willingness to take an active role in this education.

The "technical" prerequisite is: A solid background in computer graphics, preferably from having taken a class like CS559. See a CS559 syllabus for an idea of what I would expect you to know.

Intangibles, like the ability and willingness to work in a group, to build non-trivial pieces of software, and enough interest in the material to do an insane amount of work for a measly amount of credit.

Artistic skill or animation talent is not required. You must be willing to at least try.


There are no required books to buy. There will be a series of course readers made available at the DOIT tech store.

Part of the way through the semester, you will be asked to read a book about film. I, therefore recommend that you pick up a copy of: Shot by Shot: A Practical Guide to Filmmaking. It is published by Pittsburgh Filmmakers. It's a thin little book that you'll read in a small number of hours. They have it at the bookstore. You might just want to borrow a copy from someone who took the class in the past.

You might also want to read a longer book on film. I have lots of suggestions (Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen by Katz is a personal favorite).

You probably want to have a copy of the OpenGL Programming guide (red book), and some decent graphics text as a reference. (I have no suggestions for the latter)


Far more than is reasonable. This class is too much work. If you worry about such things, drop now. If you don't believe me, I'll show you my teaching evaluations from last semester.

You will have to do 3 projects.
You will have to do some number of "art assignments."
You will have to participate in class.
You will have to read what is assigned, and show that you have.
You will have to do some group thought exersizes.
You will have to do some "research" exersizes.

You will have to figure a lot of things out on your own.


Only the projects will be given letter grades.

The other stuff will be taken into account in determining your final grade. Yes, this is subjective.

What to Do

Read the web page to know what to read!
Come to class and participate!


Are you not scared away yet?

OK, Let me tell you why you should stick around...

Computer animation is this great place where art and science meet. It's about how we communicate using images.

This course is about the technical side of computer animation: how we create the tools that allow us to make these moving images that we can communicate with. However, you cannot think about these tools in a vacuum. Therefore, we need to study the art and history as well. (Yes, this means that we'll have to watch cartoons.)

It is, unfortunately, not a spectator sport. You can only learn about it by doing. However, it can be an immensely satisfying thing to do because you get to see your results.

The goals of this course are to have the student:

  • Appreciate the art of animation, its potential, and its challenges.
  • Be acquainted with the basic techniques and tools used in animation.
  • Be familiar with the seminal works of the field.
  • Learn a few topics in enough depth that they can follow the current trends in that topic, as well as have the practice in what it takes to pick up a new topic. (I can't teach all topics in depth, but if you see 1 or 2, then the next few start getting easier)
  • Understand what it takes to do research in the field.
  • Have a critical enough eye to look at and evaluate research and new tools in animation.
  • Understand enough to work as a computer animation practitioner.
  • Work as part of a team to create something they can be proud of.


website (c) 2002, Michael L. Gleicher