Computing That Serves

The Woosh Moment


Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 11:00am


Jerry Tessendorf
Professor of Visual Computing, School of Computing
Director, Digital Production Arts Program
Clemson University


Mike Jones

Everyone is aware of the enormous role of visual effects in films depicting global destruction or talking animals and bugs. Computer graphics technologies are being created and deployed in an accelerating march to produce ever more spectacular visuals.  There is also a lesser known role for visual effects in feature films that has brought Hollywood to complete dependence on computer graphics for producing even low-budget non-effects movies. Live action sets are (mostly) replaced, cars and motorcycles drift, haircuts are fixed, and animal trainers are no longer needed. The capability to do this has grown organically and rapidly from a mixture of computer science, graphics, art, business, ego, ambition, questionable reasoning, and a very large number of computers in render farms.  In this talk we examine some of the latest state of the art visual effects in blockbusters and smaller movies, showing some of the technology, physics, art, and occasionally eccentric behavior needed to accomplish them. Feeding highly skilled practitioners into this environment requires intimate experience with it, and a passion for communicating the excitement and novelty of industry.


Jerry Tessendorf is a Professor of Visual Computing in the School of Computing at Clemson University, and Director of the Digital Production Arts program. Graduates from the DPA program receive a professional Master of Fine Arts degree, and are trained in a mix of artistic and computer graphics skills that make them valuable in entertainment and industrial sectors. His research covers multiple scattering of light for computer graphics, primarily in parallel computing environments via CUDA and/or distributed systems; and novel representations of fluid dynamics suitable for visual effects production workflows. He is also a founder and Co-PI of the Clemson University CUDA Research Center, one of a few centers in the world recognized by NVIDIA for its achievements and potential. Jerry was a Principal Graphics Scientist at Rhythm and Hues Studios, where he was also the technical lead for FX and simulation software development. In 2008 he received a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the custom fluid dynamics tools developed within the studio. Jerry holds a Ph.D. in physics from Brown University.