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Computer Animation:  2009-2010



Schedule C1Computer Science

Part CMathematics and Computer Science

Schedule CMSc in Computer Science

MSc by Research



Assessment will be by a take-home mini-project.

There will be four practicals. The fourth will be linked to the mini-project, completed over the Easter vacation, and demonstrated at the start of Trinity Term.

Learning outcomes

  • Basics of key-frame animation.
  • Use of a modern software package for animation.
  • Use of animation and simulation in other domains.
  • Principles of collision detection and response.
  • Skill extension through mini-project.


No specific pre-requisites, other than familiarity with basic operations on matrices and vectors. Basic knowledge of 3D transformations is useful (e.g., from the Computer Graphics course), but not essential. Rigid-body dynamics will be covered, for which some earlier experience would be useful.


  1. Introduction. Traditional animation. Use of computer animation. [1]
  2. 2. Scene Composition. Revision of rigid-body transformations (notes provided for those who haven't seen this before in, e.g., computer graphics). Information required to render rigid objects. Transformation chains. Scene graphs. Scene description languages. [3]
  3. Basic animation. Time-varying transformations. Interpolation and interpolation functions. Use of quarternions for smooth rotation interpolation. [3]
  4. Frame-based animation. Use of the Blender program. [4]
  5. Moving the camera. Animation tricks. [2]
  6. Collision detection and response. Dealing with simple geometries. The GJK algorithm. Dealing with large scenes. Physical response models. [5]
  7. Challenges and the future of computer animation. [2]


Basic ideas of scene composition in 3D. Time-varying scenes; animation; animation frames and interpolation. Use of cameras. Animation tricks. Other uses of animation and simulation. Collision detection and response. Advanced topics. Challenges and the future.

Reading list

Course text
  • Computer Animation: Algorithms and Techniques ISBN: 1558605797 Rick Parent 45 GBP (31 Amazon)
Highly Recommended
  • The Official Blender 2.3 Guide ISBN: 1593270410 Tony Roosendaal 34 GBP (23 Amazon)
  • Character Animation in 3D ISBN: 0240516656 Steve Roberts 25 GBP (More basic (non-computer) animation)
  • Introducing Character Animation with Blender ISBN: 0470102608 Tony Mullen 27 GBP (18 Amazon)
  • Collision Detection in Interactive 3D Environments ISBN: 155860801X Gino van den Bergen 44 GBP (28 Amazon)