News Column

Patent Issued for Sliding Skin Deformer

August 6, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Comet, Michael (Concord, CA); Child, Philip (San Francisco, CA), filed on January 12, 2011, was published online on July 22, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8786611, is Pixar (Emeryville, CA).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This disclosure relates to computer-generated imagery (CGI) and computer-aided animation. More specifically, this disclosure relates to techniques for creating nondynamic sliding deformers for use in CGI and computer-aided animation.

"With the wide-spread availability of computers, computer graphics artists and animators can rely upon computers to assist in production process for creating animations and computer-generated imagery (CGI). This may include using computers to have physical models be represented by virtual models in computer memory. Typically, two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) computer-aided animation combines 2D/3D models of objects and programmed movement of one or more of the models. In 3D computer animation, the first step is typically the object modeling process. Objects can be sculpted much like real clay or plaster, working from general forms to specific details, for example, with various sculpting tools. Models may then be constructed, for example, out of geometrical vertices, faces, and edges in a 3D coordinate system to represent the objects. These virtual models can then be manipulated using computers to, for example, simulate physics, design aesthetic actions such as poses or other deformations, crate lighting, coloring and paint, or the like, of characters or other elements of a computer animation display.

"Pixar is one of the pioneering companies in the computer-generated imagery (CGI) and computer-aided animation industry. Pixar is more widely known as Pixar Animation Studios, the creators of animated features such as 'Toy Story' (1995) and 'Toy Story 2' (1999), 'A Bugs Life' (1998), 'Monsters, Inc.' (2001), 'Finding Nemo' (2003), 'The Incredibles' (2004), 'Cars' (2006), 'Ratatouille' (2007), and others. In addition to creating animated features, Pixar develops computing platforms and tools specially designed for computer-aided animation and CGI. One such example is now known as PhotoRealistic RenderMan, or PRMan for short. PRMan is a photorealistic RenderMan-compliant rendering software system based on the RenderMan Interface Specification (RISpec) which is Pixar's technical specification for a standard communications protocol (or interface) between 3D computer graphics programs and rendering programs. PRMan is produced by Pixar and used to render their in-house 3D animated movie productions. It is also available as a commercial product licensed to third parties, sold as part of a bundle called RenderMan Pro Server, a RenderMan-compliant rendering software system developed by Pixar based on their own interface specification. Other examples include tools and plug-ins for programs such as the AUTODESK MAYA high-end 3D computer graphics software package from AutoDesk, Inc. of San Rafael, Calif.

"One core functional aspect of PRMan can include the use of a 'rendering engine' to convert geometric and/or mathematical descriptions of objects into images. This process is known in the industry as 'rendering.' For movies, other animated features, shorts, and special effects, a user (e.g., a skilled computer graphics artist) can specify the geometric or mathematical description of objects to be used in the rendered image or animation sequence, such as characters, props, background, or the like. In some instances, the geometric description of the objects may include a number of animation control variables (avars) and values for the avars. An animator may also pose the objects within the image or sequence and specify motions and positions of the objects over time to create an animation.

"Accordingly, what is desired is to solve one or more of the problems relating to creating nondynamic sliding deformers for use in CGI and computer-aided animation, some of which may be discussed herein. Additionally, what is desired is to reduce some of the drawbacks relating to creating for creating nondynamic sliding deformers for use in CGI and computer-aided animation, some of which may be discussed herein."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The following portion of this disclosure presents a simplified summary of one or more innovations, embodiments, and/or examples found within this disclosure for at least the purpose of providing a basic understanding of the subject matter. This summary does not attempt to provide an extensive overview of any particular embodiment or example. Additionally, this summary is not intended to identify key/critical elements of an embodiment or example or to delineate the scope of the subject matter of this disclosure. Accordingly, one purpose of this summary may be to present some innovations, embodiments, and/or examples found within this disclosure in a simplified form as a prelude to a more detailed description presented later.

"This disclosure relates to computer-generated imagery (CGI) and computer-aided animation. More specifically, this disclosure relates to techniques for creating nondynamic sliding deformers for use in CGI and computer-aided animation.

"In various embodiments, a method for facilitating computer-generated animation includes receiving information specifying an irregular mesh. The irregular mesh may include one or more subdivision surfaces. Information is also received specifying a weight map associated with the irregular mesh. The weight map may define movement of features of the irregular mesh or information associated with the irregular mesh. Information is also received specifying a direction field associated with the irregular mesh. The direction field may define one or more directions in which movement of the features of the irregular mesh or information associated with the irregular mesh occurs. A sliding deformer can then be generated for the irregular mesh based on the weight map and the direction field. The sliding deformer can be configured to constrain movement of the features of the irregular mesh or information associated with the irregular mesh along the shape of the irregular mesh.

"In further embodiments, the sliding deformer may be manipulated by one or more users. In one aspect, information may be received specifying a value for the sliding deformer. A first location is further received or determined. A second location may be determined with the sliding deformer based on the input value for the sliding deformer and the first location. The second location when relative to the irregular mesh may be a geodesic distance along the irregular mesh from the first location when relative to the irregular mesh.

"In some embodiments, information specifying a value for the sliding deformer and a first location are received. The first location may be queried for information defined on or near the first location. The information defined on or near the first location may then be transferred to a second location determined with the sliding deformer to be a geodesic distance along the irregular mesh from the first location based on the input value for the sliding deformer and the first location. The information defined on or near the first location comprises at least one of a vertex associated with the irregular mesh, an edge associated with the irregular mesh, a face associated with the irregular mesh, a color, animation data, simulation or dynamic properties, and render data.

"In another aspect, direction fields may be defined based on axis or other structures. In one embodiment, the direction field may be generated based on one or more curves specified within an embedding space associated with the irregular mesh. In another embodiment, the direction field may be generated based on rotation about a predetermined axis. The direction field may be generated independently of any influence derived from the irregular mesh.

"In one embodiment, a nontransitory computer-readable medium stores computer-executable code for facilitating computer-generated animation. The computer-readable medium may include code for receiving information specifying an irregular mesh, code for receiving information specifying a weight map, code for receiving information specifying a direction field, and code for generating a sliding deformer for the irregular mesh based on the weight map and the direction field, the sliding deformer being an animation control configured to constrain movement of each of a set of locations identified by the weight map along the irregular mesh relative to one or more directions identified by the direction field for a corresponding location.

"In further embodiments, a nontransitory computer-readable medium stores computer-executable code for facilitating computer animation. The computer-readable medium may include code for determining a target location in a 3-dimensional embedding space associated with an irregular mesh in response to a traversal of the irregular mesh in a 2-dimensional embedding space from a source location in the 2-dimensional embedding space corresponding to a source location in the 3-dimensional embedding space based on information identifying at least one weight map, each weight map indicative of a different portion of the irregular mesh in either the 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional embedding space and specifying a movement amount in indicated embedding space for an indicated portion of the irregular mesh, and information identifying at least one direction field, each direction field associated with a different portion of the irregular mesh in either the 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional embedding space and indicative of one or more movement directions in the indicated embedding space for an associated portion of the irregular mesh; and code for transferring information associated with the source location in the 3-dimension embedding space to the target location in the 3-dimension embedding space

"A further understanding of the nature of and equivalents to the subject matter of this disclosure (as well as any inherent or express advantages and improvements provided) should be realized in addition to the above section by reference to the remaining portions of this disclosure, any accompanying drawings, and the claims."

For more information, see this patent: Comet, Michael; Child, Philip. Sliding Skin Deformer. U.S. Patent Number 8786611, filed January 12, 2011, and published online on July 22, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8786611.PN.&OS=PN/8786611RS=PN/8786611

Keywords for this news article include: Pixar, Software.

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Source: Journal of Engineering


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