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Current postgraduate taught students

COMP61621: Computer Graphics and Animation (2010-2011)

This is an archived syllabus from 2010-2011

Computer Graphics and Animation
Level: 6
Credit rating: 15
Pre-requisites: Students taking this course must have some previous experience of computer graphics programming
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Lectures: 1 day per week (5 weeks)
Lecturers: Aphrodite Galata, George Leaver, Martin Turner, MARTIN TURNER
Course lecturers: Aphrodite Galata

George Leaver

Martin Turner


Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 1 P2 Lecture 2.15 Fri 09:00 - 11:00 -
Sem 1 P2 Lab 2.25d Fri 11:00 - 13:00 -
Sem 1 P2 Lecture 2.15 Fri 14:00 - 16:00 -
Sem 1 P2 Lab 2.25d Fri 16:00 - 18:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 50%
Coursework: 50%
Lab: 0%

Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Visual Computing


Computer animation is one of the most common techniques for producing content for many forms of media. Whether in computer generated films or games, where the content is clearly meant to be seen as computer animation, or TV programming and advertisements, where we may not even be aware we are seeing computer animation, the complex and often beautiful images we see are created by very skilled artists. But the artistic nature of the content hides the sophisticated algorithms, software tools and mathematical techniques that provide the tools for the animator to express their creativity. It is these algorithms, tools and techniques we are interested in as computer scientists.


This course unit will provide a detailed introduction to the common algorithms and techniques used to create 3D computer animation. The principles of traditional animation will be briefly covered, and the techniques applicable to the computer medium will be highlighted. Also covered will be interpolation techniques, natural phenomena, modeling, and animation of articulated figures. Case Studies from leading computer animation studios will be presented, such as Pixar (Toy Story, Luxo Jr, Geri's Game, ...), Square Studios (Final Fantasy), and Blue Sky Studios (Bunny, Ice Age).
Students taking this course unit will be expected to have some prior familiarity with computer graphics concepts and programming. The course unit is aimed at computer scientists interested in the technical aspects of computer animation and no artistic skills are required. Use of tools such as 3D Studio Max and Softimage are outside the scope of this course unit.

The number of students taking this course unit will be limited to 25.

Programme outcomeUnit learning outcomesAssessment
A1 B2Have a knowledge and understanding of leading-edge computer graphics as applied to the computer animation medium.
  • Individual coursework
  • Examination
A1 A3Have a knowledge and understanding of the technology behind the latest generation of computer animation films.
  • Examination
A1 B2 B3 C1 D4 D5Be able to implement standard computer animation programming techniques.
  • Individual coursework
  • Lab assessment


Introduction to the course unit
Overview of Computer Animation
Principles of Traditional Animation
History and Classification
Computer Graphics Primer
Rendering Techniques
Interpolation Techniques
Function Curves and Motion Paths
Animation of Articulated Objects
Forward Kinetics
Inverse Kinetics
Advanced Techniques
Particle Systems
Soft objects
Natural phenomena
Automation (dynamics, motion capture)
Case Studies
Final Fantasy
Other key examples from recent productions.
Laboratory Sessions:
Moving rigid body using function curves.
Hierarchical animation techniques
Stochastic animation
Lab work will use the Renderman API in C/C++

Reading List

G. Scott Owen's Renderman Tutorial for Blue Moon Rendering Tools (will be supplied).