Computer Animation Reading List
Last modified: 16:11 Mar 23, 1999
This is a list of the reading materials for CS838, Computer
Animation. They are not in the order that we will cover them. To see
what is to be read for when, look at the syllabus.
At this point, I've only placed the readings for the first twelve
lectures, and a few of the later readings as I've come across
I've made some markings on some of the papers:
REQUIRED - means that this
paper is required reading for a lecture in the course.
SEMINAL - means that this
paper is an important work in computer animation, and its important
that you are familiar with it if you want to work in the field.
Sometimes its because the paper is historically significant, or just
because its the paper that everyone else has read.
I have prepared a reader of many of the required papers for this
course. The reader will be available down in the DOIT Tech store in
the lobby of the CS building. Because of copyright restrictions, I
cannot include things that are in some journals, books, or web
things. Also, some things I think are sufficient to read off the
The included papers for reader #1:
- Lasseter. Principles of
- Hodgins and O'Brien. Computer
- Catmull. A System for Computer
- Catmull. Problems in Computer
- Shoemake. Animating Rotation with
- Shoemake. Quaternions.
- Grassia. A Practical Formulation of the
- Maciejewski. Dealing with the
Ill-Conditioned Equations of Motion for Articulated Figures.
- Zhao and Badler. Inverse Kinematics
Positioning Using Nonlinear Programming for Highly Articulated
- Witkin and Baraff's Physics Notes Chapters (Differential
Equation Basics), 2 (Particle
System Dynamics), and 3 (Constrained
- Gleicher. A Differential Approach to Graphical Interaction
(chapters 3,4 and 5)
- Reeves. Particle
- Miller. Motion Dynamics of Snakes
- Witkin, Fleischer, Barr.
Energy Constraints ...
- Witkin, Gleicher, Welch.
- Witkin and Welch. Fast Animation and Control
- Issacs and Cohen.Controlling
Dynamic Simulation ...
General References on Computer Animation
- Hodgins, J. and O'Brien, J. Computer
Animation. To appear in The Encyclopedia of Computer
- A brief summary of the entire field in 5 pages or less. I'm
assigning this since its a quick way to get a lot of the buzwords
In acrobat format online.
- Tannenbaum, D. Why Files: Computer
- "The Why Files" is a UW bi-weekly "on-line" magazine that
tries to make science topics interesting to the mass audience.
This story is a quick overview of animation, with a focus on
methods for the creation of motion. Too non-technical to be
useful, but fun.
- O'Rourke, M. 3D Computer Animation
Workshop. SIGGRAPH '98 Course Notes (course 34). On-line
- These notes are a watered down version of his book
Principles of 3D Computer Animation which is more targetted
at artists and animators. These course notes intermix chapters of
text (which are nice since they'll teach you the buzzwords) with
walk-through tutorials to try things out. Unfortunately, these
tutorials use a software package called SoftImage. However, you
might read through them anyway to get a flavor of what another
system might look like.
NOTE: do not print out the whole acrobat file. It is quite long,
and not all of it is useful to you. While the whole thing is 79
pages long, there's really only 15-20 pages that are the "book"
and that's what you're really required to read.
Historically Important Papers
Many papers that are categorized by subject are also historically
important. These here just didn't go somewhere else.
- Catmull, E. A System for Computer
Generated Movies. Proceedings of the 1972 ACM annual conference.
- What's amazing about this is that the problems he faced then
are still the problems we face now. This paper is more for
historical perspective than anything else.
- Catmull, E. The Problems of Computer
Assisted Animation. Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '78.
- This paper layed out the issues that Ed saw in using a
computer to make animated films. Twenty years later, we have "A
Bugs Life." I am including this paper because it gives some
insight into the animation pipeline, and what is hard (e.g. why
inbetweening isn't trivial)
References on the Art of Animation
- Lasseter, J. Principles of
Traditional Animation Applied to Computer Animation. Proceedings
- This is the reference for what animation means in computer
science. Much of this is the same material in the intro chapter of
"The Illusion of Life," but simply making the graphics world aware
of that material was a major achievement.
There is an on-line
summary of this paper, but the paper is so important that you
should read it.
- Lasseter, J. Tricks to Animating
Characters with a Computer. SIGGRAPH '94 Course Notes "Animation
- This is more of the same thoughts on how to make animation
from a person who not only is a master, but had learned from the
master. It is online.
- Thomas, F. and
Johnson, O., The Illusion
of Life, Abbeville Press, 1981. Chapter 3: Principles of
- This chapter is the reference for the "Disney Animated Style."
The only reason that its not required reading is that I didn't
want to require you to buy the book.
Digital Adventure." On-line web page.
- This is a very basic web page, targetted at showing kids how
"A Bug's Life" was made. What I find interesting about is that it
tells the Pixar story: focussing on story and preproduction.
You will probably want to do some reading about Maya
in order to use it for the class. The Maya manuals may be scarse in
print form, but they are available on-line.
(note: that link is for NT in CS. The unix path is:
The book "Learning Maya" is a tutorial
(note: there is a different book called "Introducing Maya"). The
easiest way to get started is to work through the examples in the
book. The book is on-line.
- There is a "preface chapter"
called Understanding Maya which gives you a quick feature
list for Maya. It is on-line.REQUIRED
- Understanding Maya is required reading since it will give you
ideas about what kinds of things a 3D animation system does.
Rick Parent's Notes
Parent is a professor at Ohio State who teaches classes in
Computer Graphics and Animation. He has been putting together a book
on computer animation, that right now is a sequence of web
1 is a nice overview of computer animation. I especially like
it because it puts things into historical perspective with
traditional animation. Often, his lists of significant films or
places aren't the ones I would have picked, but in general, it
gets the ideas across.REQUIRED
4 is about motion. The first sections are the basics of
keyframing (described very nicely)
5 is about higher level techniques for motion. I am not that
fond of his discussion of constraints or physics,
A has a nice review of interpolation with cubics.
Quaternions and Rotations
Rotations are a tricky and important topic in animation.
Basically, it's difficult to represent a rotation in 3D. Any way that
you try to do it will have some problems. The most common ways to do
it in computer graphiucs/animation are Euler Angles, which turn out
to be really bad. Quaternions are a different way to do it that are
becoming more popular. They are not without their problems.
- Grassia, S. A Practical Formulation of the
Exponential Map for Rotations. To Appear in the Journal of
- On-line Postscript. Acrobat.
This paper introduces an alternative to Quaternions and Euler
Angles that I think is very interesting. It's nice because it
discusses the problems with different types of
- Shoemake, K. Animating Rotation with
Quaternion Curves. SIGGRAPH '85. (the original version has some
known typos, in the SIGGRAPH '91 Course Notes "Math for Computer
Graphics" it is reprinted with
- This is "the" reference for Quaternions in computer graphics.
This paper is pretty much responsible for introducing the graphics
community to quaternions, so everyone cites it. Even if you learn
quaternions from elsewhere, you should be familiar with this
- Shoemake, K. Quaternion Calculus for Animation. SIGGRAPH '91
Course Notes "Math for Computer Graphics."
- This is a "lecture notes" version of his paper. Pretty much
the same material, but its important so its worth saying
- Shoemake, K. Quaternions. On-line
paper. (citation unknown) REQUIRED
- Ken keeps writing newer versions of the Quaternions paper.
This one is nice since it is a little bit more formal, and also
gives you more intuitions why the mathematics works the ways it
- Bobick, N. Rotating Objects Using Quaternions. Game Developer
Magazine, July 1998.
- I stumbled on this reference while searching the web for
Shoemake's stuff. It's a nice, consice, description that really
cuts to the chase of what you need to do to actually use
quaternions, along with some intuitions of why.
- Murray, R. Li, Z. and Sastry, S. A Mathematical Introduction
to Robotic Manipulation. CRC Press, 1994.
- This book is the only place I ever really saw exponential
coordinates discussed in any kind of useful way (until the very
recent graphics and vision papers).
Shoemake, K. and Duff, T. Matrix
Animation and Polar Decompositions.
- The moral of the story is that you don't want to interpolate
matrices. This paper is an attempt to try to do it, if you really
Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad system invented constraints. It
basically invented interactive graphics too. In 1962, Sutherland was
doing direct manipulation, interactive animation, constraints, ... It
is important to know about this system, if just to be in awe of what
he achieved that far back. I am not sure what paper to recommend to
was about how to use constraints for interactive graphics. One of its
strongest points is that it took an incredibly general view of what
constraints and objects are, which I think is very valuable for
animation. Some of the chapters will be required reading, because
they describe things the way I like to describe them:
- Chapter 3 - Differential Methods - describes how to do
"simulation-like" optimization, and talks about how to handle many
of the nasty cases like over-constrained systems.
- Chapter 4 - Efficient Solution Methods - is generally full of
useful tricks on how to make numerical constraint stuff go fast.
- Chapter 5 - Snap-Together Math - talks about how to implement
the constraint stuff in a general way.
- Witkin, A. Fleischer, K. and
Barr, A. Energy Constraints on Parameterized Models. Proceedings
SIGGRAPH '87. REQUIRED
- This paper is significant because it really was the first
place to talk about constraints in a general way, rather than
specific geometric attributes. For animation, it is interesting
because it has the notion of making animation by having things
self-assemble. They got very interesting results using very simple
- Surles, M. An Algorithm with Linear
Complexity for Interactive, Physically-Based, Modeling of Large
- This paper is interesting because it goes to extremes to
achieve interactive rates on the "physics" computations. Where my
work at the time was stressing dynamicness (e.g. the user was
changing the constraints), Mark was pushing the limits on the
number of constraints.
A current page on the SCULPT
system, or look at the page of the company
mark founded to market it.
Kinematics and Inverse Kinematics
The basics of kinematics (hierarchical modeling) are so
imbedded in graphics that there really is no good reference. You
should be familiar with the basic ideas (forward kinematics) from
your earlier courses.
Inverse Kinematics (the problem of determining what joint angles
correspond to desired end-effector configurations) is a special case
of constraint solving. However, its also an essential problem in
computer graphics. I don't know of a definitive reference.
People are too busy "just doing it" to write about it. I'm sure there
are good references out there in the robotics literature.
- Maciejewski, A. Dealing with the
Ill-Conditioned Equations of Motion for Articulated Figures. IEEE
Computer Graphics and Applications, May 1990.
- I am requiring this paper because it discusses some of the
basic problems with doing IK in a nice way. I'm not sold on his
solution to the problems (and this paper is a bit dated), but it a
good paper for making you think.
- Zhao, J and Badler, N. Inverse
Kinematics Positioning Using Nonlinear Programming for Highly
Articulated Figures. ACM Transactions on Graphics, October 1994.
- This is as close as it gets to a definitive work. The basic
idea, that IK is a non-linear constraint solving problem, so feed
it to a non-linear constraint solver, seems so obvious, but this
is really the place where they wrote it down. It is probably
better to learn the optimization algorithms from an optimization
- Wellman, C. Inverse Kinematics and Geometric Constraints for
Articulated Figure Manipulation.
- This is slightly obscure, but it has a nice survey for its
related work section, and actually discusses a lot of the details
and compares many different approaches.
You can get a copy on-line.
- Issacs and Cohen. Controlling Dynamic
Simulation with Kinematic Constraints, Behavior Functions, and
Inverse Dynamics. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '87.
- This paper is important since its really the first place where
the put together inverse dynamics and animator control. There
methods are a bit simplistic by today's standards (and have been
superceded), but they did get things to work.
I've made some comments on the suggested film books on the
- Katz, S. Film Directing, Shot by Shot.
- NOTE: what is really required is to read something about
cinematography. This is the best choice.
This is a great book on cinematography. Chapters 6 and 7 will give
you a good overview of how to compose pictures and how to use
camera movement. The final half of the book is more and more
examples. The early part of the book does an excellent job of
- Cantine, Howard, and Lewis. Shot by Shot.
- NOTE: this specific book isn't required, something covering
its content is.
As I mention on the books page, this is an excellent, brief
introduction to the basics. For the cinematography lecture, read
chapters 3 (composition), 4 (continuity), 5 (editing), and
preferably 7 (lighting). The book is very brief.
These papers are interesting attempts to use filmmaking knowledge
in animation tools. They would make for interesting projects.
- He, L. Cohen, M. and Salesin, D. The
Virtual Cinematographer: A Paradigm for Automatic, Real-Time
Camera Control and Directing. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '96.
- An implementation of the concepts for filming dialog,
including camera placement and shot selection.
- Drucker, S and Zeltzer, D. Intellegent
Camera Control in a Virtual Environment. Proceedings 1995
Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics.
- An interesting system for planning complex camera motions
based on the other objects in the world.
Particle systems are a very basic technique in computer graphics.
So basic, that no one bothers to write much about them. However, with
a bit of hackery, they turn into a general purpose method for
modeling lots of different things, and have been used to do a wide
range of effects.
- William T. Reeves, "Particle
Systems - A Technique for Modeling a Class of Fuzzy Objects",
ACM Transactions on Graphics, Vol 2:2.
- This is the original paper about particle systems. Well, the
original paper was the 1982 SIGGRAPH paper, of which this is an
summary of the paper is available.
The primary text for physics will be the
course notes put together by Andy Witkin and David Baraff. They
were nice enough to put them online, and some of them I'm putting
into the course reader. Often, this is material from papers (some of
which are on the reading list too), but where there is duplication,
this set of notes is a better tutorial. They contain:
- Witkin, A. and Gleicher, M.
and Welch, W. Interactive Dynamics. Proceedings of the 1990
Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics.
- I think this is the first place where the equations for doing
constrained dynamics (and generalized IK) are written out in a
Witkin, A. and Welch, W. Fast Animation and
Control of Nonrigid Structures. Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '90.
- This paper takes a cute idea - that if you have a simple
deformation as your modeling primitive, you can simulate physics
on it really easily, and builds it into a whole system.
Recommended reading since it actually works through all the
physics (which is possible because they are so simple). You will
probably catch me calling this work "troids," which is what we
called it at the time.
Al Barr's group at Caltech was doing important
"Physically-Based Modelling" work in the late 80s. At SIGGRAPH '88,
they published 2 papers. Both of which were superceded with later
journal or book versions.
- Platt, J. and Barr, A. Constraint-Methods for Flexible Models.
Proceedings SIGGRAPH '88.
- This paper is generally superceded by Platt's later journal
paper. This is really the first paper to use good mathematical
methods to simulate general constraints. When it came out, I
didn't quite understand how it related to what we were doing
- Platt, J. A Generalization of Dynamic Constraints. CVGIP:
Graphical Models and Image Processing, vol. 54, no. 6, November,
pp. 516-525, (1992).
- A much cleaned up version of the SIGGRAPH paper. The
techniques are closely related to the ones we were using at CMU. I
prefer our notation, so I am requiring our papers instead of this
- Barzell, R. and Barr, A. A Modeling System Based on Dynamic
Constraints. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '88.
- This paper is basically about how to define objects by taking
simpler objects, hooking them together with constraints, and then
letting physics pull them together. This paper is nice in terms of
its philosophy, but hard to read for its notation. It's also
impossible to photocopy because of the small print, so I'm not
putting it on the reading list.
High-Level Control of Physical Objects
- Miller, G. The Motion Dynamics of
Snakes and Worms. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '88.
- A nice paper because it shows how simple methods can be used
to nice effect, when they are appropriate.
- Barzell, R. Physically-Based Modelling for Computer Graphics.
Academic Press, 1992.
- This book is more philosophy than technique,
- Witkin, A. and Kass, M. Spacetime
Constraints. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '88.
- This paper introduced spacetime constraints, and provided
results that were compelling enough to make it hard for anyone
else to follow.
- Cohen, M. Spacetime Windows.
- A system for doing Spacetime.
- Zicheng Liu, Steve Gortler, and
Michael F. Cohen, Hierarchical Spacetime Control, SIGGRAPH 94
(Orlando, Florida, July 24-29, 1994)
- This paper shows how to use wavelets to make spacetime go
faster and be more robust.
- J. Thomas Ngo and Joe Marks,
"Spacetime Constraints Revisited," SIGGRAPH 93 Conference
Proceedings, pp. 343-350, Anaheim, CA, August, 1993.
- Shows how to evolve creature behaviors by genetic programming.
Makes neat motions
- Joel Auslander and Alex Fukunaga and Hadi Partovi and Jon
Christensen and Lloyd Hsu and Peter Reiss and Andrew Shuman and
Joe Marks and J. Thomas Ngo, "Towards Practical Automated Motion
Synthesis," Transactions on Graphics, 1995, To appear.
- This is the updated "long form" of the SIGGRAPH paper. They
changed solver methods midstream.
- Sims, K. Evolving Virtual
Creatures. SIGGRAPH '94.
- This not only synthesizes the motions, but synthesizes the
creatures that go along with it.
Here's a website
about the work.
3D User interfaces
- Zeleznik, R. Herndon, K. and Hughes, J.
Sketch: An Interface for Sketching 3D Scenes. Proceedings SIGGRAPH
'96 REQUIRED .
- One of the best pieces of 3D User Interface works ever. An
important system to know about.
line as HTML.
A cute miniture
version that runs as a Java applet.
The Sketch home
- Bobby Bodenheimer, Charles Rose,
Seth Rosenthal, and John Pella . The Process of Motion Capture:
Dealing with the Data. Computer Animation and Simulation '97.
Proceedings of the Eurographics Workshop.
- Scott Dyer, Jeff Martin, John
Zulauf. Motion Capture White Paper
This is as good a technology overview as I can find easily.
Beware: it is a bit dated. However, it is great for getting you to
understand the terms involved.
- Rose, C. Guenter, B.
Bodenheimer, B. Cohen, M. Efficient Generation of Motion
Transitions using Spacetime Constraints. Proceedings SIGGRAPH
Postscript - Uncompressed
Microsoft Human Figure Animation project
- Bruderlin, A and Williams,
L. Motion Signal Processing. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '95.
- Popovic, Z and Witkin, A. Motion
Warping. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '95.
- Unuma, Anjyo and
Takeuichi. Fourier Principles for Emotion-Based Human Figure
- Gleicher, M. Motion Editing with
Spacetime Constraints. Proceedings 1997 Symposium on Interactive
- Gleicher, M. Retargetting Motion to
New Characters. Proceedings SIGGRAPH '98.
- Press, Teukolsky, Vettering,
and Flannery. Numerical
Recipes in C.
- I am not requiring you to read it, but you'll probably want to
anyway. Some particularly useful pieces for this class:
- Chapter 2 on Linear Systems.
- Chapter 9 on solving equations
- Chapter 10 on optimization
- Chapter 16 on Ordinary Differential Equations
Papers that will probably not be required reading for class, but
might make great projects:
Good Vibrations. Pentland and Williams, SIGGRAPH '89.
Westenhofer, William and Hahn, James. "Using Kinematic Clones to
Control the Dynamic Simulation of Articulated Figures", Invited
Paper, Computer Graphics International, June 24-26, 1996, Pohang,
Gritz, L. and Hahn, James. "Genetic Programming for Articulated
Figure Motion", Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation, vol.
6: 129-142 (1995). (Postscript)
Gritz, Larry and Hahn, James, "Genetic Programming Evolution of
Controllers for 3-D Character Animation" Proceedings of the Genetic
Programming '97 Conference, July 1997. (Postscript)
Wiley, Doug and Hahn, James, "Interpolation Synthesis of
Articulated Figure Motion," IEEE Computer Graphic and Applications,
November/December 1997, Volume 17, No. 6, pp. 39-45.