ACM - Computers in Entertainment

The Academic and Industrial Boundary of Computer Graphics

By Xiaomao Wu

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

Computer Graphics (CG) research is an area very close to industry, but unfortunately hasn’t made researchers’ lives easier.

The funds allocated to CG research are very limited. To provide some context, the funding committee of a government usually wants to see the scientific value of research. Unfortunately CG research gives the impression that it’s made for entertainment, although it does affect the industry and people’s daily lives. Researchers have tried to apply CG research to data visualization (medical surgery, engineering) and simulation to make it easier to get funding, with little success.

Just as underfunded, are CG publications. We have very limited journals and top conferences for the CG industry. Only a small amount of papers are luckily enough to be accepted for publication in top journals and conferences. Compared to other research areas like computer video/vision processing, CG researchers are at a disadvantage. 

Top practical research is key for any high-tech company, in order maintain market share. But very few of them are able to setup funding and support longer term research. The CG industry usually doesn’t invest that much money into pure long-term research. Most are interested in short-term or middle term practical research, because long-term research is less predictable and more risky. 

I visited couple of universities for potential corporations. it was evident that students are smart and passionate, and are doing quite interesting work. However, their research could be better guided and oriented if they had the opportunity to work closer with industry.

Here are my thoughts on pushing CG R&D better:

1. Better joint research activity between the academy and industry. Professors could visit companies and establish relationship to understand real-world issues. Companies should also maintain a close connection to researchers to have access to early research work, and ideally provide funding which in turn can lead to the production of innovative products. 

2. Setup a ACM CiE practical research section, or provide an online platform to connect academic and industry professionals and provide them with online communication tools so they can exchange ideas quickly, help each other, and identify issues in an early stage.


Dr. Xiaomao Wu is a Lead Software Engineer at Crytek and Associate Editor of ACM CiE. He received his Ph. D. from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and continued his postdoctoral research at INRIA. He is currently leading Crytek’s Cinebox team working on a real-time high-quality film/TV previs and rendering pipeline. Before joining Crytek, he worked for Autodesk, Microsoft, and INRIA in computer graphics and animation. His major research has been published in IEEE CG&A, Computer Graphics Forum, ACM/Eurographics SCA and Computers & Graphics. Please follow him on Twitter @CGRealLife or send him an email at [email protected].