Two Computing Science Undergraduate Projects Feature at SIGGRAPH 2022

August 05, 2022

By: Andrew Ringer

SIGGRAPH, the premier conference for computer graphics worldwide, will be joined by two undergraduate student projects from SFU’s School of Computing Science when it is held in Vancouver this month. 

Both projects came as a result of CMPT 461, a course taught by SFU computing science professor Yagiz Aksoy, which focuses on computational photography and image manipulation. This course covers the theoretical basis of image processing and computer vision with a research-focused curriculum, including a semester-long project where students apply their knowledge to create their own application. Each project has a PhD student assigned to help the undergraduate students, giving new researchers a chance to learn from students further along in their research careers. 

“Our focus for the projects in the computational photography course is that the students do not implement an existing algorithm, but that they develop a new system that can be helpful to the computational photography domain,” says Aksoy.  

Both projects showcase SFU’s continued success in visual computing and computer graphics, from undergraduate students to faculty. For their projects, both groups used computational photography to develop an application which will help indie game developers save countless hours in the design of artwork in their games. 

See below for more information on each project:

DynaPix: Normal Map Pixelization for Dynamic Lighting 

By: Gerardo Gandeaga, Denys Iliash and Chris Careaga

Abstract: This work introduces DynaPix, a Krita extension that automatically generates pixelated images and surface normals from an input image. DynaPix is a tool that aids pixel artists and game developers more efficiently develop 8-bit style games and bring them to life with dynamic lighting through normal maps that can be used in modern game engines such as Unity. The extension offers artists a degree of flexibility as well as allows for further refinements to generated artwork. Powered by out of the box solutions, DynaPix is a tool that seamlessly integrates in the artistic workflow.

Link to video presentation >>

Link to project website >>

“As aspiring game developers, it isn't easy to create pixelated art for games,” says Gandeaga. 

“Hence, for our computational photography project, we were inspired to work on a tool that would aid developers and artists in creating pixelated assets for their games. Our tool enables developers to quickly iterate on game art to spend less time creating assets and more time working in-engine.”

Parallax Background Texture Generation 

By: Brigham Okano, Ross (Shao Yu) Shen and Sebastian Dille

Abstract: Art assets for games can be time intensive to produce. Whether it is a full 3D world, or simpler 2D background, creating good looking assets takes time and skills that are not always readily available. Time can be saved by using repeating assets, but visible repetition hurts immersion. Procedural generation techniques can help make repetition less uniform, but do not remove it entirely. Both approaches leave noticeable levels of repetition in the image, and require significant time and skill investments to produce. Video game developers in hobby, game jam, or early prototyping situations may not have access to the required time and skill. We propose a framework to produce layered 2D backgrounds without the need for significant artist time or skill. In our pipeline, the user provides segmented photographic input, instead of creating traditional art, and receives game-ready assets. By utilizing photographs as input, we can achieve both a high level of realism for the resulting background texture as well as a shift from manual work away towards computational run-time which frees up developers for other work.

Link to video presentation >>

Link to project website >>

“There are ways to reduce the amount of art needed and procedurally generate backgrounds, but they can end up looking obviously repetitive,” says Shen.

“With that in mind we wanted to make something that was easy to use, even without artistic training, not too obviously repetitive, and would let indie developers pass some of those art-hours off to the computer to generate. What we came up with may not make museum level artwork, but it can definitely help indie developers get their games out in to world faster and easier.”

SIGGRAPH will be taking place next week from August 8-11 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. 

“We will be showing local industry and the global computer graphics community the strength of our undergraduate program when it comes to visual computing,” says Aksoy.

Learn more about Yagiz Aksoy and the Computational Photography Lab >>