University of Toronto computer science researcher Aaron Hertzmann (also a professor) has an obsession that has managed to land him the 2010 Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences. He earned the honor last month, along with a check for $10,000, because of his work related to computer algorithms and natural human movement.
"We can all walk around in the world and we don’t think about it … but to make a robot or (animated) character walk and really obey the laws of physics is really hard," said Hertzmann.
Hertzmann has been conducting research in computer animation for 15 years. He has spent the last seven of those years at the University of Toronto, working on creating controllable lifelike movements, and on rendering techniques used in painting and drawing.
His research is more useful to video game developers and movie studios, but may also be useful in data modeling, biomachines and physical therapy. For now, Hertzmann says that he is focused on visiting animation studios and transferring this technology for use in creating films.
"Animators really love traditional animation like classic Disney animation … There’s a lot of beauty and warmth that comes from traditional styles of media that you don’t have with conventional computer animation," said Hertzmann. "What we’d like to do is get the best of both worlds. Right now no one really knows how to do that."
Hertzmann says that he appreciates the award but the recognition does not change his life in any way. He points to several "really exciting breakthroughs" in his work on human motion modeling as the most exciting thing going on in his life at the moment.
Source: IT Canada