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European Research Council 2011

Isabelle Bellin - 25/01/2012

Marie-Paule Cani wishes to make 3D virtual creation available to all

Marie-Paule Cani © Inria / Photo Kaksonen

Thanks to the Advanced Grant awarded to her by the European Research Council (ERC), aimed at experienced researchers, Marie-Paule Cani, a university professor at the INP Grenoble, will finance five years of research into the design of animated virtual shapes within the framework of her IMAGINE team, shared with Inria Grenoble and with the Jean Kuntzmann laboratory (CNRS and Universities of Grenoble). She hopes to make the digital tool as intuitive as simply using pen and paper, and much more efficient.

What is the computer-aided design of animated shapes?a

Marie-Paule Cani  : This involves using a computer and computer graphics to design three-dimensional moving shapes, characters, industrial prototypes, virtual scientific models, or any other type of digital model. Making digital creation tools truly intuitive is a crucial scientific field. For, surprising as it may seem in the digital age, paper, pencil and clay remain the prerequisite tools of choice for sketching new shapes, even for those intended to be fine-tuned using software.

Why is this out of reach?

M.-P.C. :  Creating new means of expression implies the design of methods focused upon users, which adapt to their creative capacity as opposed to the contrary. This requires new model types for moving shapes, able to respond to interaction gestures in an intuitive manner.

How do you think you will achieve this goal?

M.-P.C. :  We have already provided proof of the concept within the framework of my former project-team, Evasion (2003-2011). We designed an intelligent model enabling realistic trees to be drawn rapidly in virtual landscapes: their morphogenesis is imposed by their silhouette, which the user sketches in 2D with several resolutions. The details, created in 3D, are automatically replicated on the tree. My aim is to apply this type of approach to a variety of fields, in the creation of clothing for example; based on simple 2D sketches on images of characters, this will mean generating their 3D developable surface, finding their pattern and automatically adapting them to other morphologies My ERC grant enables me to finance five PhD students, five post-doctoral students and one engineer for five years, and 30 months of research visits by guest professors.

Why are you interested in this virtual creativity?

M.-P.C. :  Quite simply, in parallel to my scientific studies, I have always been passionate about drawing and sculpture. After my mathematical aggregation, I undertook a thesis in computer graphics. So it's no accident that I'm now exploring the possibilities presented by digital tools to offer greater creativity.

Creating an expressive virtual pencil to draw in 3D


In this example, the clothing creator produces the outline of a sketch, which is transformed to dress a 3D dummy - Inria/Evasion
In her ERC project, known as Expressive, Marie-Paule Cani suggests using digital tools, computers or graphical tablets, to sketch, then refine, three-dimensional shapes with more realism and simplicity than a pencil . Instead of using the standard computer-graphics techniques leading to software that requires several years of training, she offers to develop top-level dynamic models: representations of shapes and movements capable of handing control to the user, whilst helping them obtain the best possible result. To achieve this, she will need to combine computer graphics, under its simulation and geometry components, with human-machine interaction and cognitive sciences.

2011 successful applicants

In the "Young researchers" category, Remi Gribonval (Metiss, Rennes), Andreas Enge (Lfant, Bordeaux), Xavier Rival (Abstraction, Rocquencourt) and Erwan Faou (Ipso, Rennes) received a grant, which will enable them to build a team. In the "senior researchers" category, the projects by Marie-Paule Cani (Evasion, Grenoble), Nicholas Ayache (Asclepios, Sophia Antipolis) and Dale Miller (Parsifal, Saclay) were those selected by the ERC.

Keywords: Marie-Paule Cani Equipe Imagine ERC Computer Graphics 2D 3D