Section: Scientific Foundations
The synthesis of natural scenes has been studied long after that of manufacturing environments in Computer Graphics, due to the difficulty in handling the high complexity of natural objects and phenomena. This complexity can express itself either in the number of elements (e.g., a prairie, hair), in the complexity of the shapes (e.g., some vegetal or animal organisms) and of their deformations (a cloud of smoke), from motions (e.g., a running animal, a stream), or from the local appearance of the objects (a lava flow). To tackle this challenge:
we exploit a priori knowledge from other sciences as much as possible, in addition to inputs from the real world such as images and videos;
we take a transversal approach with respect to the classical decomposition of Computer Graphics into Modeling, Rendering and Animation: we instead study the modeling, animation and visualization of a phenomenon in a combined manner;
we reduce computation time by developing alternative representations to traditional geometric models and finite element simulations: hierarchies of simple coupled models instead of a single complex model; multi-resolution models and algorithms; adaptive levels of detail;
we take care to keep the user in the loop (by developing interactive techniques whereas possible) and to provide him/her with intuitive control;
we validate our results through the comparison with the real phenomena, based on perceptual criteria.
Our research strategies are twofold:
Development of fundamental tools, i.e., of new models and algorithms satisfying the conditions above. Indeed, we believe that there are enough similarities between natural objects to factorize our efforts by the design of these generic tools. For instance, whatever their nature, natural objects are subject to physical laws that constrain their motion and deformation, and sometimes their shape (which results from the combined actions of growth and aging processes). This leads us to conduct research in adapted geometric representations, physically-based animation, collision detection and phenomenological algorithms to simulate growth or aging. Secondly, the high number of details, sometimes similar at different resolutions, which can be found in natural objects, leads us to the design of specific adaptive or multi-resolution models and algorithms. Lastly, being able to efficiently display very complex models and data-sets is required in most of our applications, which leads us to contribute to the visualization domain.
Validation of these models by their application to specific natural scenes. We cover scenes from the animal realm (animals in motion and parts of the human body, from internal organs dedicated to medical applications to skin, faces and hair needed for character animation), the vegetal realm (complex vegetal shapes, specific material such as tree barks, animated prairies, meadows and forests) and the mineral realm (mud-flows, avalanches, streams, smoke, cloud).