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Scientific award

Corinne Pezard - 10/06/2011

Marie–Paule Cani, Eurographics Outstanding Technical Contributions Award winner 2011

Remise du prix Eurographics à Marie-Paule Cani © Nigel W. John, Eurographics association

Marie-Paule Cani has just won the Eurographics Outstanding Technical Contributions Award. This internationally recognized distinction rewards her work in implicit modelling, animation and interactive shape design. Marie-Paule Cani, a university professor in Grenoble, leads the EVASION team, a joint Inria Grenoble and Jean Kuntzmann laboratory team, which is affiliated with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the universities of Grenoble. 

The Eurographics award is given for major contributions to the field of computer graphics that are both technologically advanced and creative. This is the case in Marie-Paule Cani's work on implicit surfaces and multiresolution deformable models. For example, she has developed several solutions for animation of nature scenes , and more recently, for animating characters' hair  and clothing. Her work in creating interactive forms is also highly innovative. « We have created a virtual clay model, which can be manipulated in real-time, using only your bare hands, thanks to a new peripheral device, the HandNavigato r, as well as 3D modelling systems of complex forms from a single drawing, » said Marie-Paule Cani.

Based on theoretical concepts, her research has been applied in several domains: digital entertainment (animated games and films), training simulators (surgical operations), industrial virtual prototyping (cosmetics tested on a virtual hairstyle), etc. All of these technical accomplishments have been recognized with this award. « I hope that the award will be an incentive to convince the best students to join my new research team ».

The current challenge is to make the creation tools transparent.

Image de synthèse © Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann-Inria/EPI Evasion

« The immense advances that have been made in modelling, animation and rendering of images have blurred the line for the public between the real and the virtual , » continued Marie-Paule Cani. « Nevertheless, even if the software does not require graphic artists to be experts in mathematical models, they must at least be able to master their particular interfaces. While today, many users, both professionals and amateurs, would like to be able to easily create the elements of a virtual world, for example from a 2D sketch » Hence the need for creation tools for virtual universes to be simplified, to make them intuitive and accessible to the layperson.

To achieve this, the user's needs must be taken into account in developing "intelligent" 3D models of shape and movement that are capable of "understanding" from a simple sketch. Understanding, for example, that a piece of clothing is a developable surface. It's an original approach, still relatively new to Europe, but which Marie-Paule Cani intends to develop in the near future, through the creation of a new Inria project-team, called IMAGINE .

Marie-Paule Cani, professeure d’université à Grenoble, responsable de l'équipe-projet EVASION

Marie-Paule Cani graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. A secondary and higher-education qualified teaching professional in mathematics, she discovered the world of computer science during her doctorate, studying under Claude Puech at ENS from 1987-1990. « At that time, I was already implementing tools to create 3D forms and animated content using advanced geometric models,  » she recalls. But her interest in working with form dates back much farther than that. « In my personal life, I liked drawing and sculpting very much. I was able to apply this creativity later in computer graphics. »

Appointed Senior Lecturer in 1991 at ENS, Marie-Paule Cani left Paris in 1993, to follow her iMAGIS team to Grenoble. In 1997, at just 32, she was appointed a university professor, at INP in Grenoble. She created EVASION in 2003, a team made up of almost 30 people (researchers, post-doctoral students, thesis students, engineers, etc.)

Keywords: Digital entertainment Computer graphics Eurographics Team EVASION Marie-Paule Cani Award