CHCCS/SCDHM Achievement Award

Karan Singh

2019 Achievement Award

A 2019 CHCCS/SCDHM Achievement Award from the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society is presented to Dr. Karan Singh.  This award recognizes the significant and varied contributions he has made in interactive computer graphics, spanning geometric modeling, art and visual perception, facial and character animation, and sketch-based techniques and interfaces.

Of particular note is his innovative work on interactive methods for geometric modeling and animation.  A persistent theme of his work is that it is human centered: he develops interactive tools for creative people to develop visual expressions.  This includes the well known Wires deformers in Maya, which became the ubiquitous deformation tool in interactive geometric modelling, as well as blend-shape animation, which likewise became the fundamental tool of kinematic animation.  In both inventions, the ability to easily draw, visualize, and interactively manipulate geometry and animation were a key to their success.  Drawing and visualizing extended to sketching 3D shapes in the ILoveSketch system, which inspired many others to work on sketch-based graphics. He continued with a collection of other highly creative interfaces that leverage sketching, scaffolding-based construction, and guidance from images and 3D models.  He has further developed systems that reflect the opportunities and constraints related to computational fabrication.  Much of his work has been richly interdisciplinary, as seen in the publication venues for his work, which span SIGGRAPH, CHI, UIST, and more.  His graduate students include talent from areas that span math, science, engineering, the arts, and the anatomical sciences, to mention a few.

He developed the ideas and implementations behind the cords that were a key feature of the 2004 animated short, Ryan, for which he was the software R&D director.  The cords were developed as an intuitive representation for modeling and animating rope-like objects, including hair, in the film.  Ryan went on to win over 60 awards, including the 2004 Academy Award for Animated Short Film and the 25th Genie Award for Best Animated Short.

Dr. Singh’s work is further notable for its resulting technology transfer.  It has led to commercial software offerings and startups, including MeshMixer, FlatFab, JanusVR and JALI.  He has further led strong collaborative efforts with Autodesk Research.

Karan Singh is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He holds a B.Sc. in 1991 from IIT Madras, and a Ph.D. from Ohio State State University in 1995. From 1995-1999, he was an Engineer and Researcher at Autodesk Research (then Alias|wavefront) in Toronto.