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Columbia University

Animation and CGI Motion

Columbia University via edX

This course may be unavailable.


How do you create realistic animations? How do you predict the motion of materials? It’s key to the success of animated films to ensure (was insure) audiences believe in characters.

This course will show you how to create lifelike animations focusing on the technical aspects of CGI animation and also give you a glimpse into how studios approach the art of physically-based animation.

You will learn the fundamental concepts of physical simulation, including:

  1. integration of ordinary differential equations such as those needed to predict the motion of a dress in the wind.
  2. formulation of models for physical phenomena such as crumpling sheet metal and flowing water.
  3. treatment of discontinuities such as fractures and collisions.
  4. simulation of liquids and solids in both Lagrangian and Eulerian coordinates.
  5. artistic control of physically-based animations.

These concepts will be put into practice in the programming assignments spanning:

  • Discretizing and integrating Newton’s equations of motion
  • Constrained Lagrangian Mechanics
  • Collisions, contact, and friction: detection and response
  • Continuum mechanics
  • Finite elements
  • Rigid body simulation
  • Thin shell and cloth simulation
  • Elastic rod and hair simulation
  • Fluid simulation


The coursework will focus on seven themes. Each theme is divided into weekly assignments, or "milestones." Each milestone will include successful implementation of new technical features, and an artistic scene that demonstrates these features. Theme 01: Mass-spring systems , in which you will implement point masses, gravity, springs, dampers, time integrators (explicit Euler, symplectic Euler, linearized implicit Euler). Theme 02: Collision handling , in which you will implement detection against fixed obstacles (discs, half-planes, polygonal objects), response against fixed obstacles (using reflection with a coefficient of restitution, and penalty methods), advanced pairwise detection between polygonal objects, and broad-phase accelerations using spatial hashing and hierarchical bounding volumes. Theme 03: Rigid bodies , in which you will implement computations of center of mass and moment of intertia for polygonal objects, time integration for rigid bodies, and contact with fixed obstacles. Theme 04: Elastica , in which you will implement the constant strain finite element, a discrete bending force for polygonal objects, and plastic and viscous flow. Theme 05: Fluids , in which you will implement a fast and stable fluid simulation including advection, convection, and viscosity, in an Eulerian framework. Theme 07: Project , in which you are the boss.

Taught by

Professor Eitan Grinspun


3.8 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Animation and CGI Motion

  • Anonymous
    I took this class as part of the Artificial Intelligence MicroMaster's program of edX. Why this class is part of an Artificial Intelligence curriculum is beyond me. In a standard classroom setting I can see where this class is reasonable. When co…
  • Anonymous
    The course took much more time than the 8-10 hours per week advertised. Only a handful of us completed it, and the others had an experience similar to mine. It is unsuitable as a part-time MOOC that can be combined with full-time work. The course i…
  • 1. You must take at least 15 hour per week to finish the lecture and assignment.
    2. It's not a course about AI.
    3. You should finish a mini project by using C++ before you take this course
    4. It is a great and unique online course about animation and CGI motion, assignment is very challenging and funny.
  • Anonymous
    This course is awesome I always wanted to learn things like this and now i got the chance to do it thanks to Columbia University via edX.
  • Profile image for Jay Chapaneri
    Jay Chapaneri
    It is really very wonderful work in this situation that work is done to gives these are courses as it is so helpful to exploring the inner talent and work effectively

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