15-462 Computer Graphics I
Guest Lecture

Computer Vision and the Art of Special Effects
Steve Sullivan, Industrial Light + Magic

Abstract: While computer graphics has come to dominate special effects production over the past 10 years, artists still rely on essentially manual processes to complete many of their shots. As manual approaches prove too expensive, time-consuming, or inexact to meet directors' escalating demands, studios are reaching deeper into current technical research to achieve their artistic goals. In this talk, we discuss how computer vision techniques are impacting feature film production. Using shots from "Star Wars", "The Mummy", "Pearl Harbor", "A.I." and "Minority Report", we consider the impact of existing techniques on tasks such as matchmove, modeling, rendering, and motion capture, as well as identify areas of future research interesting to the effects community.

Bio: Steve Sullivan joined Industrial Light + Magic in 1998 to develop computer vision algorithms and applications for film and video production. As principal engineer, he heads a computer vision team within ILM's R&D group, developing systems for matchmoving, photogrammetry, image-based rendering, and motion capture. His work has been used on over 25 feature films including Star Wars Episodes I & II, The Mummy, The Perfect Storm, Pearl Harbor, A.I., and Harry Potter. In 2002, he received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for his team's first project, the MARS motion and structure recovery system. In 1996, Sullivan received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with an emphasis on automatic object modeling, recognition, and surface representations. After graduation, he spent two years with Rhythm & Hues Studios developing 3D animation and tracking software before joining ILM.

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Frank Pfenning