Computer Science Professor Wins Oscar

Mar 07, 2006
Demetri Terzopoulos
Demetri Terzopoulos

And the Oscar goes to … Professor Demetri Terzopoulos!
Terzopoulos, a status-only professor in computer science and electrical and computer engineering, walked the red carpet and received a technical achievement award Feb. 18 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards in Beverly Hills.

“I thanked the academy and the Sci-Tech and I thanked my former colleagues,” Terzopoulos said. “And I thanked my mom.”

Canadian actress Rachel McAdams hosted the black-tie presentation dinner at the Beverly Hilton and gave Terzopoulos both his certificate and a kiss.

Along with Microsoft senior researcher John Platt, Terzopoulos, also a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, received the award for a computer animation technology they developed that makes simulated cloth which looks and moves like actual fabric. According to the academy, it was “a milestone in computer graphics.” The technique was published in a 1987 paper titled Elastically Deformable Models and a decade later, animators at Pixar Animation Studios and elsewhere began using variations of this method. Simulated cloth has now appeared in movies such as Star Wars (Episodes II and III), the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings films.

In those films, the technique was used to create the clothing for computer-generated characters such as Yoda and Gollum. “In addition to cloth, which is surface-like, we could also do strands like hair and fur or three-dimensional solid objects made of, say, rubber and sponge.”

Before Terzopoulos’ paper, which applied the principles of physics, computer graphics models were based purely on geometry. “Our paper was the basis of a very popular trend in animation now, which is physics-based modelling,” he said.

In the movie Monsters Inc., for example, the character of the little girl, Boo, wore a nightshirt that was simulated using the computer technique, as was the shaggy blue fur of Sully, the character voiced by actor John Goodman.

Scientific and Technical Awards are presented by the academy for devices, methods, formulas, discoveries or inventions of special and outstanding value to the arts and sciences of motion pictures. Portions of the awards ceremony were taped for inclusion in the March 5 Academy Awards broadcast.

Source: University of Toronto

Explore further: Size matters: Phones as big as they can get for easy use

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sizing up cells: Study finds possible regulator of growth

44 minutes ago

Modern biology has attained deep knowledge of how cells work, but the mechanisms by which cellular structures assemble and grow to the right size largely remain a mystery. Now, Princeton University researchers ...

Evolving robot brains

2 hours ago

Researchers are using the principles of Darwinian evolution to develop robot brains that can navigate mazes, identify and catch falling objects, and work as a group to determine in which order they should ...

Recommended for you

Watches, robots suitcases: mobile gadget highlights

2 hours ago

Tech companies showcased countless connected gadgets at the world's biggest wireless telecom fair, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which wrapped up on Thursday. Here is a selection of highlights:

Cebit 2015: DIY printing custom touch-sensitive displays

4 hours ago

Computer scientists from Saarbrücken have developed a technique that could enable virtually anyone to print out customized displays of their own in future—in all shapes and sizes and onto various materials. ...

Power-generating urinal pioneered in Britain

4 hours ago

British scientists on Thursday unveiled a toilet that unlocks energy stored within urine to generate electricity, which they hope could be used to light remote places such as refugee camps.

Reliance on smartphones linked to lazy thinking

5 hours ago

Our smartphones help us find a phone number quickly, provide us with instant directions and recommend restaurants, but new research indicates that this convenience at our fingertips is making it easy for us to avoid thinking ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.