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Otago Uni Student Making Mark In Computer Graphics! - 8/30/2004 10:10:28 AM   

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The computer graphics world is beginning to sit up and take notice of a University of Otago student who is knocking the sharp edges off their craft.

Computer science PhD student Alexis Angelidis recently picked up the award for the best paper at an international conference on computer modelling in Italy. Then, when presenting another paper at the world's largest computer graphics conference, in Los Angeles, he caught the eye of animation leader Disney.

"This guy from Disney came and said it was cool stuff. He said they had been trying to do this for years," Mr Angelidis said.

What he has been doing is drawing on his background as an artist and sculptor to develop more "organic" approaches to 3-D computer modelling.

On top of his computer sit a community of finely rendered fantasy characters he has made from real clay. On the screen is a growing cast of creations made by a technique that brings the experience of the modeller in clay into the world of computer code.

"What I would really like is to remove the barrier between computers and organic things," Mr Angelidis said.

Computers were excellent for generating mechanical images, but when creating more organic forms, the existing techniques were tedious, time consuming and expensive, he said.

"I want to develop a technique that's very easy to use and very predictable, not only for professionals but also for people who don't have any background," Mr Angelidis said.

One expression of his work is a method by which a given lump of computer-generated clay is moulded, in real time, while maintaining its mass, as would a lump of real clay.

The possible applications stretch across the entertainment industry from film to computer games.

Mr Angelidis came to Otago from France three years ago on a Marsden scholarship that runs out next year.

Beyond that, a job in the entertainment industry might beckon, but he would also like to continue to work as an academic, where there is the time to work on the kind of elegant solutions for which he is becoming known.

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