UC Riverside

Victor Zordan

Victor Zordan

Using Computers to Capture Human Motion

Movies, games and digital music — who wouldn't want to work with Victor Zordan? Zordan, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at UCR, is one of the most popular professors around.

Zordan has been an animation enthusiast and graphic programmer for more than 20 years, and a researcher investigating animation techniques for more than 10 years. His research interests are in physical simulation, motion capture and algorithms used to create believable (and unbelievable) motion. His research aims to explore new uses for animation, not only for entertainment, but also for medical and training applications.

Students flock to Zordan’s Riverside Graphics Lab to learn the latest in motion capture technology, game software and 3D virtual worlds. In March 2010, UC Riverside’s program in video game design was ranked among the top-50 programs of its kind. The ranking reflects the research and course offerings of Zordan.

“Many students arrive on campus with a passion for video games but little understanding of the complex math and science that goes into creating them,” he said. “As they learn more, they are able to do some interesting things.”

Computer animation remains a critical resource for movies, television and the electronic game industry, but its many applications also include general, vocational and medical education. Zordan’s breathing simulation software was used by the Hawaii Medical Service Association to help teach a course on deep breathing techniques.

Motion capture equipment records the movements of an actor, but not his visual appearance. These movements are collected as animation data which is then mapped to a 3D character model created by a computer artist. The result is a character that moves the same way as the original actor. Zordan’s lab has worked towards improving the process of "fitting" the data in order to better animate the character model.

Visit Professor Victor Zordan’s profile page on the Living the Promise website.

Watch a video of Zordan discussing the technology of video games. 

Visit the Riverside Graphics Lab website.

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