Bring your photos to life with updates to Project Draco

We have an exciting new update to Project Draco available for feedback on Autodesk Labs - you can now import pictures to layers to have fun with photos of your friends and family!

The latest technology preview adds some important features for working with photos and detailed illustrations:

  • The biggest improvement is that you can now import images to layers

  • With this comes an eraser tool for tweaking the layers

  • For exporting your movies you now have control over the resolution and duration

You can turn this...

...into this!

Let's take a look at how we can do this with some falling leaves. First prepare some leaves.

Import them into a new layer.

Press the Animate! button.

Animate the leaves.

To get something like this.

There's still time to sign-up for Project Draco - all you need is an iPad to try it out. You can see more of the artwork created with Project Draco on Tumblr.

Seasons Greetings and May the Force be with You!

What happens when Christmas, a new Star Wars movie and an easy to use animation system like Project Draco all happen at the same time?

If you would like to try your hand at some fun animations, check out the technical preview of Project Draco available for iPad users. 

Easy animation Project Draco is open for feedback on iPad

We've talked about Project Draco a bunch, including showing it at SIGGRAPH and how it could be used for storyboarding. Now we are happy to announce that we now have a technical preview available for iPad users. If you're interested, please sign up to the Autodesk Labs project

If you haven't seen Project Draco before or need some inspiration, take a look at some of the creations below! In a nutshell, Draco allows artists to easily add animation to their illustrations and photos with an easy-to-use, sketch-based paradigm.





Parametric Humans are Coming to Montreal

Autodesk is sponsoring the third International Workshop on Biomechanical and Parametric Modeling of Human Anatomy (PMHA). As part of the Parametric Human Project, PMHA is all about modeling the human body and simulating it to better understand biomedical and human factors.

Parametric Modeling of Human Anatomy (PMHA)The program for this year's PMHA is rich with content and includes talks on:

  • Developing models for how speech, the tongue and swallowing work
  • Virtual Reality for medical simulation
  • Biomechanical models of the knee and spine
  • Muscle modeling and simulation

This event will take place at Autodesk's beautiful office in Old Montreal.


Autodesk Research at SIGGRAPH 2015

If you're attending SIGGRAPH 2015 in Los Angeles, watch out for these presentations from members of Autodesk Research and say hi to the presenters!:

Kitty: Sketching Dynamic and Interactive Illustrations

Monday, 10 August 3:45 pm - 5:15 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 402AB

Rubaiat Habib, Fanny Chevalier, Tovi Grossman and George Fitzmaurice

Kitty will be part of the UIST Reprise and you can read more about Kitty in this blog post.

Printing Elastics

Thursday, 13 August 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 150/151

Session Chair: Nobuyuki Umetani

Convolutional Wasserstein Distances: Efficient Optimal Transportation on Geometric Domains

Tuesday, 11 August 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 152

Justin Solomon, Fernando de Goes, Gabriel Peyré, Marco Cuturi, Adrian Butscher, Andy Nguyen, Tao Du, Leonidas Guibas

This paper introduces a new class of algorithms for optimization problems involving optimal transportation over geometric domains. The main contribution is to show that optimal transportation can be made tractable over large graphics domains, such as images and triangle meshes, improving performance by orders of magnitude compared to previous work.

OmniAD: Data-Driven Omni-Directional Aerodynamics

Wednesday, 12 August 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 153A-C

Tobias Martin, Nobuyuki Umetani, Bernd Bickel

Introducing OmniAD, a novel data-driven pipeline to model and acquire the aerodynamics of three-dimensional rigid objects simply by capturing their falling motion using a single camera. OmniAD enables realistic real-time simulation of rigid bodies and interactively designed three-dimensional kites that actually fly.

Computational Tools for 3D Printing

Thursday, 13 August 2:00 pm - 5:15 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 403AB

Nobuyuki Umetani, Bernd Bickel, Wojciech Matusik

This course reviews current 3D printing hardware and software pipelines, and analyzes their potential and shortcomings. Then it focuses on computational specification for fabrication methods, which allow designing or computing an object's shape and material composition from a functional description.

3D-Printed Prosthetics for the Developing World

Thursday, 13 August, 9-10:30 am,SIGGRAPH Studio

Ryan Schmidt, Ginger Coons, Vincent Chen, Timotheus Gmeiner, Matt Ratto

You can read more about this project here.

Autodesk Exhibitor Sessions

Members of your favourite Autodesk product teams will be showing off cool, new things throughout the week.

The Art of Fluid Animation

And you may see Jos Stam wearing a shirt like this - ask him about it :)

Autodesk Research The Art of Fluid Animation


This Nucleus Simulation Shows How Your Brain is Like a Wad of Paper

Science Magazine recently published an article called Your Brain is like a Wad of Paper. When the team at Autodesk Research saw it Jos Stam recalled that it looks like a simulation Duncan Brinsmead from the Maya team had done with Nucleus a number of years ago.

Autodesk Research Brain Nucleus

From the article in Science Magazine:

Suzana Herculano-Houzel and Bruno Mota—a neuroscientist and physicist, respectively, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil—have found a mathematical relation for folding in mammals' brains that appears to be universal.

It may sound complicated, but that universal relationship is the same one that describes crumpled wads of paper—as Herculano-Houzel showed by scrunching up sheets of paper of different sizes and thickness at her dining room table and measuring their surface areas. The relationship comes about because the bent-up paper settles into the configuration that minimizes its energy. So presumably, in folding, the cortex also simply settles into the configuration of least mechanical energy.

Duncan Brinsmead says, "The process of crumpling based on surface area in a confined space is what we are simulating. However there are a lot of subtle effects that probably make our result differ."

Jos Stam adds, "It is a qualitative demonstration of the theory described in the paper. The cool thing is that Nucleus is able to show the process and the resulting shape. The brain, like a walnut, is an emergent form from basic constraints. That is what Nucleus is all about."

Here's what the Nucleus simulation in Maya looks like:

You can read Nucleus: Towards a Unified Dynamics Solver for Computer Graphics to learn more about how the Nucleus solver works and watch the video associated with Physics-based Generative Design to see some other interesting uses of Nucleus like below.

Autodesk Research Nucleus Physics Generative Design

A Thesis on Design in Comic Book Form

Have you ever read a Ph.D. thesis in the form of a comic book? Now you can thanks to the creative mind of Rubaiat Habib. Rubaiat created the interactive illustration and animation tools Draco and Kitty with his colleagues from the Autodesk Research UI Group. In his thesis, Rubaiat discusses Designing New Digital Art Media through the non-traditional format of a comic book.

In this comic, Rubaiat gets into his motivation and process for creating such tools and offers inspiration for all researchers, UX designers and software developers. Beyond that, it's a great read and you can have a taste of it below!





Rub_4 Rub_5

Autodesk Research at CHI 2015

The CHI conference showcases the very best advances in computer science, cognitive psychology, design, social science, human factors, artificial intelligence, graphics, visualization, multi-media design and more is approaching with Autodesk participating both as a proud sponsor and presenter. The theme for CHI 2015 is "Crossings": crossing borders, crossing boundaries, crossing disciplines, crossing people and technology, crossing past and future, crossing physical and digital, crossing art and science, … crossing you and me.

This year Autodesk Research has three papers receiving Honorable Mentions (the top 5% of all submissions):

Supporting Subtlety with Deceptive Devices and Illusory Interactions

Fraser AndersonTovi Grossman, Daniel Wigdor (Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto) and George Fitzmaurice look at ways to conceal your usage of mobile devices and stay connected without offending your co-workers.


Room: 402, Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, Time: 14:30 - 15:50

Tactum: A Skin-Centric Approach to Digital Design and Fabrication

Madeline Gannon (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh), Tovi Grossman and George Fitzmaurice look at skin based input through augmented reality for new design possibilities.

TACTUM – Tactile Augmented Reality (Teaser) from Madeline Gannon on Vimeo.

Room: 401, Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, Time: 16:30 - 17:50

Dynamic Opacity Optimization for Scatter Plots

Justin Matejka, Fraser Anderson, and George Fitzmaurice explore opacity-scaling for scatter plots to make them more useful and readable. 


Room: E6, Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015, Time: 11:30 - 12:50

In addition to these exciting subjects, the team will also present:

Your Paper is Dead! Bringing Life to Research Articles with Animated Figures

Tovi Grossman, Fanny Chevalier (Inria, France) and Rubaiat Habib Kazi discuss how scientific knowledge can benefit from moving images in publications. 

Room: 308, Date: Monday, April 20, 2015, Time: 16:30 - 17:50

Panel: Transfer of HCI Research Innovations

There has been a longstanding concern within HCI that even though we are accumulating great innovations in the field, we rarely see these innovations develop into products. Our panel brings together HCI researchers from academia and industry who have been directly involved in technology transfer of one or more HCI innovations. They will share their experiences around what it takes to transition an HCI innovation from the lab to the market, including issues around time commitment, funding, resources, and business expertise. More importantly, our panelists will discuss and debate the tensions that we (researchers) face in choosing design and evaluation methods that help us make an HCI research contribution versus what actually matters when we go to market.

  • Parmit K Chilana, Management Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
  • Mary P Czerwinski, Microsoft Research, Redmond, United States
  • Tovi Grossman, Autodesk Research, Toronto, Canada
  • Chris Harrison, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, United States
  • Ranjitha Kumar, Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, United States
  • Patrick Baudisch, Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam, Germany
  • Shumin Zhai, Research @ Google, Mountain View, United States

Room: 307, Date: Monday, April 20, 2015, Time: 11:30 - 12:50

It looks like an exciting conference - If you're at CHI, please say hello to the team!

PDF Documents are Better with Animation

We've had books with pictures in them for hundreds of years. With modern computing powers we can move from static pictures in our PDF documents to dynamic animations and tell a more compelling and understandable story like in this Project Draco example (you may need to download it to see the animation in action and use Adobe Reader X or newer).

As we can see in the video above, there are things to consider when authoring a document with animated figures:

  • readers should not be burdened with complex UI controls
  • readers should not be distracted by the animation when reading text. 

Of course there are other things to consider when creating animated figures:

  • Duration: just like with a static figure, keep the animated figure short and concise
  • File Size: keeping the animations short will reduce file size
  • Number of Animated Figures: use them sparingly but where important to communicate
  • Audio: sound can be included but can be very distracting so use only if necessary

In a work of entertainment, like a comic book, publishers may be more free with including animations. When publishing an academic paper or instructional document, beyond showing an animation, here are some of the best places to use an animated figure:

  • Demonstrating How an Interaction Technique Works
  • Illustrating Cause and Effect
  • Contrasting Visual Differences 
  • Visualizing How an Algorithm Works

You can read more about this research and follow our instructions if you want to try it out. Happy publishing!