Michiel van de Panne

Email: van [at] cs [dot] ubc [dot] ca
Office: ICCS X865
Phone: 604-822-8737

Curriculum Vitae

B.A.Sc., University of Calgary (1987); M.A.Sc., University of Toronto (1989); Ph.D., University of Toronto (1994); Assistant Professor, University of Toronto (1993-1998); Associate Professor, University of Toronto (1998-2001); Visiting Professor, University of British Columbia (1999-2001); Motion Playground Inc. (2000- ); Associate Professor, UBC (2001- );


computer graphics
computer animation
novel interface techniques
physics-based modeling and simulation
motor control
motor learning


While I have a general interest in all areas of computer graphics, the bulk of my research has focussed on computer animation. I am interested in being able to efficiently model and control the motions of humans and animals, both realistic and imaginary. Much of my research makes use of physics-based simulation, given that all motions are shaped to a large extent by physics. However, motions such as walking and leaping are the product of both physics and control. How does one compute the appropriate muscle or motor control in order to yield a desired motion? Much of the work in this field is interdisciplinary, with strong ties to biomechanics, control, machine learning, and robotics.

Recent projects include:

Development of a digital stuntperson.

Falling motions are a logical application of physics-based character animation, given that physics plays a dominant role in such motions and the imminent risk involved in using alternative techniques such as the motion capture of a person falling down a set of stairs. We have developed a physics-based digital stuntperson that can appropriately break his fall when given a hard push in any direction, can pick himself back up off the ground after the fall, and can perform a number of other coordinated tasks.

Virtual puppetry for physics-based characters.

Can one 'steer' a simulated character from the inside using the muscles, much like one can steer an airplane in a flight simulator? Appropriate interfaces allowing for this kind of control would allow users to experiment directly with the dynamics of particular motions. Potential applications include prototyping new motions in sports and developing control strategies for non-anthropomorphic robots or characters.

Multi-modal path planning.

Control and planning are strongly interdependent problems. Consider the example of a character needs to plan her way through a field of large boulders. An efficient path planner needs to have a model of the jumping and climbing abilities of the character. At the same time, it is difficult to define such a model in a compact fashion. We have developed a path planner that can exploit walking, climbing, swinging, and crawling behaviors in order to traverse challening terrain.

Compression techniques for precomputed visibility.

In rendering large models, it is important to identify the small subset of primitives that is visible from a given viewpoint. One approach is to partition the viewpoint space into viewpoint cells and then precompute a visibility table which explicitly records for each viewpoint cell whether or not each primitive is potentially visible. Many computer games use some version of this representation. This project examined ways of compressing such visibility tables in order to produce compact and natural descriptions of potentially-visible sets.

From footprints to animation.

To what extent can one make reasonable inferences about a motion from the footprints alone? We have developed an animation techniques which uses footprint positions and timing as a uniform framework for specifying character motion involving walking, running, and jumping of bipeds and quadrupeds on variable terrain.

Selected Publications

Continuation Methods for Adapting Simulated Skills
KangKang Yin, Stelian Coros, Philippe Beaudoin, Michiel van de Panne
ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proc. ACM SIGGRAPH 2008)

Motion-Motif Graphs.
Philippe Beaudoin, Michiel van de Panne, Pierre Poulin and Stelian Coros.
ACM/EG Symposium on Computer Animation 2008.

SIMBICON: Simple Biped Locomotion Control
KangKang Yin, Kevin Loken, and Michiel van de Panne
ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proc. ACM SIGGRAPH 2007)

Matthew Thorne, David Burke, and Michiel van de Panne,
Motion Doodles: An Interface for Sketching Character Motion.
ACM Transactions on Graphics, 23(3), Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 2004.

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