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ModFlows: Methods for Studying and Managing Mesh Editing Workflows
Jonathan D. Denning
Dartmouth TR2014-758

Abstract: At the heart of computer games and computer generated films lies 3D content creation. A student wanting to learn how to create and edit 3D meshes can quickly find thousands of videos explaining the workflow process. These videos are a popular medium due to a simple setup that minimally interrupts the artist’s workflow, but video recordings can be quite challenging to watch. Typical mesh editing sessions involve several hours of work and thousands of operations, which means the video recording can be too long to stay interesting if played back at real-time speed or lose too much information when sped up. Moreover, regardless of the playback speed, a high-level overview is quite difficult to construct from long editing sessions.

In this thesis, we present our research into methods for studying how artists create and edit polygonal models and for helping manage collaborative work. We start by describing two approaches to automatically summarizing long editing workflows to provide a high-level overview as well as details on demand. The summarized results are presented in an interactive viewer with many features, including overlaying visual annotations to indicate the artist’s actions, coloring regions to indicate strength of change, and filtering the workflow to specific 3D regions of interest. We evaluate the robustness of our two approaches by testing against a variety of workflows, holding a small case study, and asking artists for feedback.

Next we describe a way to construct a plausible and intuitive low-level workflow that turns one of two given meshes into the second by building mesh correspondences. Analogous to text version control tools, we visualize the mesh changes in a two-way, three-way, or sequence diff, and we demonstrate how to merge independent edits of a single original mesh, handling conflicts in a way that preserves the artists’ original intentions.

We then discuss methods of comparing multiple artists performing similar mesh editing tasks. We build intra- and inter-correspondences, compute pairwise edit distances, and then visualize the distances as a heat map or by embedding into 3D space. We evaluate our methods by asking a professional artist and instructor for feedback.

Finally, we discuss possible future directions for this research.

Note: Ph.D Dissertation. Advisor: Fabio Pellacini.


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   Jonathan D. Denning, "ModFlows: Methods for Studying and Managing Mesh Editing Workflows ." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2014-758, June 2014.


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