UCL News


UCL Computer Science partners to make games more lifelike

14 December 2006

Dr Anthony Steed and Simon Pilgrim of UCL Computer Science are working with leading games developer Electronic Arts to make animation faster and more realistic.

progressive skinning animation

Dr Steed, a senior lecturer in computer graphics at UCL, is spending the academic year 2006/07 on secondment (funded by The Royal Academy of Engineering) to the Guildford-based company. Simon Pilgrim, one of the students he supervises on the UCL Engineering Doctorate in Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation, is sponsored by Electronic Arts.

For the research component of his course, Simon is working at the company's offices, charged with making character animation more lifelike. Current game technologies mean that in crowd scenes, either the quality of individual figures or the speed of play is compromised. However, Simon's 'progressive character skinning' technique aims to overcome this problem by manipulating the level of detail of each figure's skeleton according to the importance of its position and the number of characters on-screen at any one time.

According to Electronic Arts Chief Technical Officer Ian Shaw, production on titles has already advanced due to Simon's input. "We have had a working relationship with UCL for the last six years and the university's academic research correlates with our development of computer games. As an organisation, we wanted to form a closer relationship between the theoretical knowledge and practical application for developing computer game animation. Our partnership with UCL is proving extremely beneficial and enabling us to find ways that academia and industry can work together to help keep us at the forefront of animation technology."

Dr Steed added: "It's fantastic to see the direct impact UCL's work is having in a growing commercial market. Both Electronic Arts and UCL continue to learn how academia and industry can produce market leading results together."

Image: Progressive skinning allows realistic characters to appear on screen in record time