Archive for the ‘Computer Graphics’ Category

Before trying to answer the question about how to read papers, I would like to share my experience about which papers to read. My general suggestion is to read as much as possible. The goal of reading papers is pretty simple: you should get a comprehensive understanding of the entire field you are working on, so that to prevent yourself from reinventing the wheels, and to draw inspirations from previous work, especially state of the art.

Every student/researcher in computer graphics may pay special attention to Ke-Sen Huang’s Home Page, which covers almost all the top conferences about computer graphics. I check the update of this page frequently and follow all the latest change there. But just following Ke-Sen’s page is not enough, there are also several major journals (such as TOG, TVCG, CG&A and CGF). Fortunately you can subscribe to the publishers of those journals and get notifications about the latest publications promptly via any RSS reader. Furthermore, for some important papers, it is worth taking a look at the reference lists in those papers as well as all the follow-up work by searching later publications that have cited them.

To read a paper, I think the key point is to get the big picture. Specifically, it’s much more important to figure out what the authors did and why they did this, compared to how they did. I would also suggest to be positive when reading a paper. Every paper got published for certain good reasons. Instead of thinking as “how they can publish such a bad paper”, it would be more helpful trying to find those good reasons.


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I have just realized that to be successful in computer graphics research (and maybe in other fields as well), you should have a strong personality, which is much more important than any technical skills such as coding and writing. To have a strong personality does not mean you should create your own style other than anybody else, but I think in general you should be tough.

I learned this not from my own experience (I don’t consider myself very successful yet), but based on my observation as well as what I’ve heard about some really successful researchers.

The computer graphics community is becoming more and more competitive, in both industry and academia. There are about 200 SIGGRAPH/SIGGRAPH Asia/TOG papers each year, plus hundreds of good publications on other top venues. So to survive this community you have to put dedicated effort into your research for years. It is very inspiring to see so many people who are smarter yet work harder than me all the time.

I feel extremely lucky to collaborate with many great researchers who all have strong personality but work in totally different ways. Some of them can communicate with me on a daily base for years via writing like a robot, while some of them are invisible most of time but will suddenly appear before the submission deadline and clean up all the bugs in my code while I’m near a break point at midnight.

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Recently I have been advised to share my experience about doing computer graphics research via public blog. I have decided to follow the suggestion so this blog may become more active from now on.

But first of all, I would like to put a disclaimer here. All the opinions to appear in this blog will be based on my personal experience, which may not work for anybody else due to the biodiversity of human beings (including the strong personality of myself as well as my collaborators). So please consider the future posts at your own risk.

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Yesterday I happened to talk to a famous professor on neuroscience including human vision, when both of us were looking for the director of my department. It was a great opportunity for me to learn new stuff from such an expert, and I strongly agree with her point regarding science versus technology as well as discovery versus invention.

When she knew that I’m majored in computer graphics, the professor complaint about the difficulties to create/edit video contents using state of the art software. I actually feel a little bit embarrassed about that, because one of my main research goals is to facilitate content creation for an arbitrary user. It reminds me of a Chinese poem about which the best translation I could find is:

The way ahead is long; I see no ending, yet high and low I’ll search with my will unbending.

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When preparing for my fast-forward slides to be presented at SIGGRAPH 2011, I’ve found the following features of PowerPoint 2010 very useful.

  • The embedded videos can be really played under text boxes, after sending them to background.
  • The embedded videos will be incorporated within the saved PPTX file automatically, which obviates the need to keep separate video clips under certain folders with special care.
  • The entire slides can be dumped into a single WMV file according to user specified timings (File -> Save & Send -> Create a Video).

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Amateur Photographer

I’m an amateur photographer and I take pictures in my spare time. I’ve got my first photo of water drop recently, which is far from perfection due to the blurry appearance and noisy details. But I still like this picture, especially the lovely shape of the water drop and the ripple.

Both photography and computer graphics are aimed at content creation in terms of images and videos. It is interesting to notice that these two ways are complementary to each other and have their own limitations. Photography relies heavily on the device and the environment when taking pictures, while for traditional computer graphics, manual modeling is often tedius and physics-based simulation as well as photorealistic rendering are usually computationally expensive. It is thus not surprising that people are working on certain research directions trying to combine the advantages of photography and computer graphics, such as image-based rendering, image editing, texture synthesis and computational photography.

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I think one of the best ways to prove the usefulness of a technique is to use it in real life and produce some interesting results. Last summer, I applied example-based texture synthesis when I was designing a T-shirt for a group of football fans (including myself) who love Juventus, one of the most famous Italian football clubs. I obtained some patterns as shown below using a simple zebra-like exemplar, but some of my friends said the final results look like fingerprints. Anyway, I’m really proud of the fact that over 100 people wear the T-shirts designed by me.


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