Character Animation

Character animation is the art of creating moving characters with the use of computers. It is a subfield of computer graphics. Until recently, crafting animation was mostly a manual, time demanding process. The arrival of new interactive medias like video games established new requirements and constraints to the animation production process in terms of realism and flexibility. This course first introduces the essentials of computer animation: how traditional animation principles have been applied to computer animation an how interpolation techniques has increased animation productivity. It then presents the major breakthrough observed in the field of interactive character animation during the last decades: Automatic motion generation using forward, inverse kinematics and physical simulation, realistic motion playback through motion capture and the subsequent data driven animation trend.

Because know how is essential to computer animation, course slots will be punctuated by short practicals demonstrations. Discussion is encouraged during these interactive slots. You are encouraged to bring your laptop and experiment on place to enrich the discussion.

Math Prerequisites:
• trigonometry
• matrix algebra
• 3D geometry

Computer Science Prerequisites:
• basic computer graphics
• basic computer programming
• basic C++ programming

Here are the topics you might select, with their reference material (to be discussed):

Introduction to character animation Watt, A., Watt, M. (1992) Advanced Animation and Rendering Techniques, Chapter 16.

Parent, R. (2002) Computer Animation, Section 4.2 + Chapter 6.

Quaternions + SLERP Shoemake (1985) Animating Rotation with Quaternion Curves

Lander (1998) Better 3D.

M. P. Johnson (2003) Exploiting Quaternions to Support Expressive Interactive Character Motion, MIT, PhD thesis.

Subject taken by Mykola Byelytskyy

Slides as pdf


Inverse kinematics: Inverse Jacobian + CCD Welman (1993) Inverse Kinematics and Geometric Contraints for Articulated Figure Manipulation

Lander (1998) Oh My God, I Inverted Kine

Lander (1998) Making Kine More Flexible
Complementary: Baxter (2000) Fast Numerical Methods for Inverse Kinematics

D. Tolani and N. I. Badler (1996) Real-Time Inverse Kinematics Techniques for Anthropomorphic Limbs

Kulpa, R. and Multon, F. (2005) Fast inverse kinematics and kinetics solver for human-like figure (ieee paper, ask us if not available.)

Complementary: Chris Hecker et al. (2008) Real-Time Motion Retargeting to Highly Varied User-Created Morphologies

Complementary: Buss, Samuel R., and Jin-Su Kim. (2005) Selectively Damped Least Squares for Inverse Kinematics

Topic taken by Rui Xu

Principles of traditional animation Lasseter (1987) Principles Of Traditional Animation Applied To 3d Computer Animation

Franck Thomas and Ollie Johnson (1981) The illusion of Life, Disney animation, chapter 3. “The principles of animation”.

Complementary: Sonoko Konishi, Michael Venturini (2007) Articulating the Appeal

Complementary: Shawn Kelly (2008) Animation tips and tricks

Topic taken by Bhavesh Bhansali, presentation scheduled on the 30th of November. rehearsal on the 23rd.

EMOTE Chi et al. (2000) The EMOTE Model for Effort and Shape.

B. Hartmann and M. Mancini and C. Pelachaud (2006) Implementing Expressive Gesture Synthesis for Embodied Conversational Agents

Motion Blending L. Kovar and M. Gleicher (2003) Flexible automatic motion blending with registration curves

Complementary : L. Ikemoto and D. Forsyth (2004) Enriching a Motion Collection by Transplanting Limbs

Motion synthesis from annotations O. Arikan and D. A. Forsyth and J. F. O’Brien (2003) Motion synthesis from annotations
Motion Graphs L. Kovar and M. Gleicher and F. Pighin (2002) Motion graphs

Complementary : Jehee Lee et al. (2004) Interactive Control of Avatars Animated with Human Motion Data

Character Animation Authoring (NOT using “mouse+keyboard” approach) Dontcheva, M. et al. (2003) Layered Acting For Character Animation

Kass, M., Anderson, J. (2008) Animating Oscillatory Motion With Overlap: Wiggly Splines

Shiratori, T. et al. (2013) Expressing Animated Performances through Puppeteering

Rhodin, H. (2014) Interactive motion mapping for real-time character control

Jin, M., et al. (2015) AniMesh: interleaved animation, modeling, and editing

Physics J. K. Hodgins and W. L. Wooten and D. C. Brogan and J. F.O’Brien (1995) Animating Human Athletics
Complementing physics with motion capture V. B. Zordan and J. K. Hodgins (2002) Motion capture-driven simulations that hit and react

O. Arikan and D. A. Forsyth and J. F. O’Brien (2005) Pushing people around

The Smartbody character animation engine — feature tour with an emphasis on inverse kinematics — Building a Character Animation System”, A. Shapiro, 4th Annual Conference on Motion in Games 2011, Edinburgh, UK, November 2011
Smartbody website, hosted at ICT
This hands-on project will consist of presenting a feature overview of the Smartbody character animation system. Student will also asked to showcase a short interactive gaze controller using SmartbodyTopic taken by Nirmal Kumar Ramadoss
Animating characters using XML3D XML3D website
Topic taken by Jonas Trottnow

Slides as pdf


Authoring an interactive reactive avatar in Blender Blender website

General Requirements

Good command of English for understanding research papers. Most of the discussed papers are written in English.

Requirements for Certificates

A seminar certificate has the following requirements:

  • Regular attendance.
  • A talk (English, 30-35 minutes, 10 minutes discussion).
  • A report (English) that covers the facts addressed in the talk and the related discussion.
  • Participant should be in the role of the discussion manager for one talk.


Language of reports: English

Deadline: TBD

Size: 6-8 pages

Format: file format is PDF, page style is LNCS, which can be found on the LNCS springer web page. Start with the Default Author Instructions file. This is also an example how the LNCS style looks. LaTeX is recommended if possible, write your report using the ShareLatex online app ( and add your advisor (e.g. as a collaborator to the project (using ShareLatex will considerably improve the feedback cycle).

General requirements – reports should:

  • be understandable and well formatted!
  • cover the individual topic of the talk, questions that have been discussed during the sessions, and they should address relevant issues of other talks.

First Version of Reports reviewed until: [TBD] – Beginning by this date each supervisor contacts his students for individual feedback.

Final deadline10 days after feedback on the first draft of the written report is given. This ensures that everybody has the same time to finalize the report after s/he has received feedback.


  • Reports can be also submitted before the announced deadline.
  • Please remember that reports have to be in final state when submitted!


Language of talks: English

Date: Monday afternoon, 16:00–18:00

Location: Seminar room (121) in the Computer Science building E 1 1, first floor,

 Kick-Off meeting and talk assignment: Monday, November 2nd. 14:00, Seminar room (121) in the Computer Science building E 1 1, first floor,

Topic attributions: TBD

Calendar: TBD

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9 Responses to Character Animation

  1. Maha says:

    Monday afternoon

  2. Rui Xu says:

    Friday afternoon

  3. Bhavesh Bhansali says:

    Monday Afternoon

  4. Jonas says:

    Monday afternoon (after 16:00 ?)

  5. Jonas says:

    Monday afternoon (after 16:00?)

  6. Mykola says:

    Friday afternoon (it would be great, if it will beginn closer to 12)

  7. Nirmal says:

    Monday Morning

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