USC professor releases library of 3-D software
Jernej Barbič, USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor, released the world’s most comprehensive library of 3-D deformable modeling software for free open-source download on Aug. 6.
The package, called Vega, allows users to simulate and move complex objects, bending, stretching and twisting them in real time. A potentially powerful tool for animation and game artists, as well as engineers designing complete structures, Vega is optimized for speed and can animate the motion of any 3-D solid object under any user-specified forces. In fact, no other free library offers such a comprehensive range of materials and deformable simulation methods.
The culmination of eight years of development, Vega’s license allows anyone in the world to freely use and modify its more than 50,000 lines of software code for academic research or commercial applications.
Unique in its implementation of popular deformable object methods, the package works out of a standard computer system for representing 3-D objects, dividing their interiors into pyramids (tetrahedrons). In a matter of seconds, Vega can simulate both geometrically simple objects, as well as complex objects made up of hundreds of thousands of tetrahedra.
While portions of Vega have been in use in various forms for years, Barbič has carefully edited and optimized the current package, which he will consistently update.
“A lot of this kind of research code goes up on the Web, but the software is often either too specific or too complex and intertangled,” Barbič said. “Vega is now general purpose, well documented and highly modular, with its components independently reusable.”
At USC, home of North America’s top-rated videogame design program, students will be taught to integrate Vega into their games this fall. Though it is not an out-of-the-box application, Barbič said, “We are eventually going to try to get the system running in major 3-D animation packages.”
Barbič also hopes to use Vega in surgical simulations, using the system’s ability to move, but not cut, its subjects.
The name Vega celebrates mathematician and physicist Jurij Vega, who shares Barbič’s Slovenian heritage. Born in 1754, Vega calculated the value of pi to more than 100 digits.
Barbič discussed Vega at SIGGRAPH 2012, the 39th international conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques, on Aug. 8 in Los Angeles.