Michael P. Neff is the inaugural recipient of the Alain Fournier Ph.D. Thesis Award. His thesis, entitled Aesthetic Exploration and Refinement: A Computational Framework for Expressive Character Animation, combines physics-based and kinematic animation tools that allow an animator to specify more easily expressive aspects of human motion. It spans the areas of graphics, biomechanics, robotics, and the performing arts. It uniquely draws inspiration from the the literature and practice of the performing arts to motivate “expressive” animation primitives for synthetic humans. Its historical overview on the lessons we should take from the Arts into Computer Animation makes the thesis worth reading on its own, even if we were to ignore its substantial technical achievements.
Michael completed his B.Eng. at McMaster University, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Eugene Fiume. Currently, Michael is doing a postdoc with Hans-Peter Seidel at the Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science in Germany, and he will be taking up a faculty position at the University of California, Davis, later this year.