CIS 563: Physically Based Animation (Spring 2008)

This website is for class taught in Spring 2008. The website for current class (Spring 2009) is here.

Time:  MW 1:30-3
Room: Towne 313
Instructor:  Alla Safonova

Email: alla at
Office: Levine 303
Office Hours: Monday 3:30pm to 4:30pm (Levine 303) or by appointment


TA: Benjamin Sunshine-Hill

Office Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 11:30-12:30 (in Moore 100)



Detailed Course Syllabus is available here (It may change, please check regularly)


Course Description
This course introduces students to common physically based simulation techniques for animation of fluids and gases, rigid and deformable solids, cloth, explosions, fire, smoke, virtual characters, and other systems. Physically based simulation techniques allow for creation of extremely realistic special effect for movies, video games and surgical simulation systems. We will learn state of the art techniques that are commonly used in current special effect and animation studios and in video game community. To gain hands-on experience, students implement basic simulators for several systems. The course is appropriate for both upper level undergraduate and graduate students.


Students should have a good knowledge of object oriented programming and basic familiarity with linear algebra and physics. Some background in computer graphics is helpful.

List of Topics

  • Simulating Deformable Objects
    • Particle Systems
    • Mass spring systems
    • Deformable Solids & Fracture
    • Cloth
    • Explosions and Fire
    • Smoke 
    • Fluids
    • Deformable active characters
  • Simulating Rigid bodies
    • Rigid bodies dynamics
    • Collision detection and handling
    • Controlling rigid bodies simulation
  • Simulating Articulated Bodies
    • Simulated characters in games
    • Optimization for character animation
    • Data driven approaches
    • Dynamic Response for Games
  • Numerical Methods that will be covered

o    Finite Element Methods

o    Finite Difference Methods

o    Collision Detection & Response

o    Stability and Implicit Integration

o    Level Set Methods

o    Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics

o    Model Reduction Techniques

o    Simulation Control

Grading will be based on a number of programming assignments.

Preliminary assignment list (can change):

Mass-Spring Particle System Simulation (15%)

Fluid or Smoke Simulation (25%)

Rigid body simulation (25%)

Final project of your choice (35%)

There is no required text book for this class. Lecture notes will be provided for each class. Also supplemental reading material is linked from the syllabus.

Good resources:
Physically Based Deformable Models in Computer Graphics by Andrew Nealen, Mathias Muller, Richard Keiser, Eddy Boxerman and Mark Carlson  (Nice survey paper of the field)
Physically Based Modeling (The 2001 course notes by Baraff and Witkin)
Fluid simulation (SIGGRAPH 06 course notes on by Bridson et. al.)
Physics Based Animation (Book by Erleben, Sporring, Henriksen, Dohlmann)
Computer Animation Information Page (Rick Parent's page with large number of links)
Hecker Articles(Rigid body dynamics)


        First assignment is out, click here for description, (also linked from the syllabus).

        You have 5 late days that you can use towards all of your assignments. Send Email to Ben when you use any of these days.

        Change in the assignment due time - first assignment is due today at midnight.

        Second assignment is out, click here for description, (also linked from the syllabus).

        Deadline for Second assignment is extended by 4 days (until Friday at midnight).

        Presentations for Second assignment will be held on Monday (March 24) during the class (instructions).

        Third assignment is out, click here for description, (also linked from the syllabus).

        Final Project Proposal description is here. Presentations will be this coming Monday. Final project should be approximately the same in complexity as the other 3 projects you have done in this class.

        Final Project Presentation and Report description is here. Presentations will be this coming Monday, May 5th from 9am to 11am in Towne311. See you all there.