Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

Four Computer Scientists Win Academy Award

January 29th, 2013 / in Uncategorized / by Shar Steed

nsfFour computer scientists have received the film industry’s highest honor, an Academy Award, for their technical achievement in special effects. The researchers – Theodore Kim (UCSB), Nils Thuerey (Scanline VFX), Markus Gross (ETH Zurich), and Doug James (Cornell) –  developed a software algorithm called Wavelet Turbulence, and they expect it to have applications beyond entertainment in other disciplines such as medicine and aerospace.

The innovative software algorithm generates realistic swirling smoke and fiery explosions that are more detailed, easier to control and faster to create than previous technology, and it has been used in more than two dozen recent movies in the past few years.


“As a scientist and a mathematician, this is totally foreign to me,” says Doug James, associate professor of computer science at Cornell University, referring to his Hollywood honor. “I spend a lot of time dealing with abstract mathematics and algorithms, so it’s gratifying to see the work have such widespread applications, including in entertainment.”


Before and after Wavelet Turbulence


Theodore Kim, assistant professor of media arts and technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, agrees. “I’m a computer programmer, not a drama type, and I never practiced an Oscar acceptance speech in front of the mirror while growing up,” he says, laughing. “Now I’m probably going to have to write one.”

Read more on the National Science Foundation’s website.

Four Computer Scientists Win Academy Award