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Art and Science of Animation Merge at Cognitive Animation Workshop

June 3, 2008

MERCED - An interdisciplinary team of UC Merced professors is
bringing together the top minds in cognitive science and computer
graphics and animation this week to explore how the fields can
partner to create better, more realistic animated characters for
gaming, film, customer service and other applications - even
virtual surgeries and autonomous robots. The first-ever Cognitive
Animation Workshop will be June 4 and 5 at the Tenaya Lodge in
Yosemite National Park.

“Until now, the science of movement and the art of animation
have proceeded mostly on separate tracks,” said

Professor Teenie Matlock,
a cognitive scientist in the UC Merced

School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts.
“We hope to come to a better understanding
of how cognitive science can inform the design of animated
characters and effects, and how animation can help cognitive
science, as well.”

Attendees at the workshop, including delegations from Sony, IBM
Research, Stanford, Vanderbilt University, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC
Santa Cruz and UC Merced, will explore potential partnerships among
universities and industry - a primary goal of the Discovery Grant
from the UC Office of the President, which is funding the conference.

Other sponsors of the workshop include IBM and
The Center for Information
Technology in the Interest of Society (CITRIS),
an intercampus
research organization that supports the discovery and dissemination
of new knowledge in computer science and engineering.

Keynote speakers at the workshop include Dana Ballard from the
University of Texas, Austin and Demitri Terzopoulos of UCLA - top
names in computer science and cognitive science.

“We’re honored and proud to bring these leaders in our field to
the workshop,” Matlock said. “The event is important because it
will boost our visibility and showcase the innovative and
interdisciplinary vision of our computer science and cognitive
science programs.”

Engineering professor

Marcelo Kallmann
co-organized the event with Matlock, bringing
his expertise in computer graphics and animation to the table.
Engineering professors

Shawn Newsam
of UC Merced and Petros Faloutsos of UCLA are also
co-organizers. Professor Michael Spivey of Cornell University, who
will join the cognitive science faculty at UC Merced this year,
will lead a panel discussion.

Dean Jeff Wright
of the School of Engineering and

Interim Dean Hans Bjornsson
of the School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts will also attend.

UC Merced students have also been involved in the workshop, with
graduate students gaining experience in organizing an academic
conference and even undergrads participating and attending. Matlock
said there will be about 20 students at the conference in total,
with about half that number coming from UC Merced.

For more information, including a full program of speakers,
please see the workshop Web site at

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