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Contributions and Results

Fishesgif, the superclass Pisces, are an important species of animals that exhibit elaborate behaviors both as individuals and in groups. Most people find them fascinating to watch. Their behavioral complexity is generally higher than that of most insects, but lower than that of most mammals. Since realistic, automatic animation of the locomotion of humans and other advanced animals remains elusive, a visually convincing virtual marine world presents an excellent choice for validating our approach to animating natural ecosystems.

Imagine a virtual marine world inhabited by a variety of realistic fishes. In the presence of underwater currents, the fishes employ their muscles and fins to swim gracefully around static obstacles and among moving aquatic plants and other fishes. They autonomously explore their dynamic world in search of food. Large, hungry predator fishes stalk smaller prey fishes in the deceptively peaceful habitat. Prey fishes swim around contentedly until the sight of predators compels them to take evasive action. When a dangerous predator appears in the distance, similar species of prey form schools to improve their chances of survival. As the predator nears a school, the fishes scatter in terror. A chase ensues in which the predator selects victims and consumes them until satiated. Some species of fishes seem untroubled by predators. They find comfortable niches and feed on floating plankton when they get hungry. Driven by healthy libidos, they perform elaborate courtship rituals to secure mates.

We have successfully applied the basic methodology outlined in the previous section to develop an animation framework within whose scope fall all of the above complex patterns of behavior, and many more, without any keyframing. We aim to make the colorfully textured denizens of the fish world as realistic as the ``Jurassic Park'' dinosaurs. Yet, unlike the dinosaurs, each fish in this community exists as an independent, self-governing virtual agent. None of the actions is keyframed or scripted in advance, but is instead driven by the individual perceptions and internal desires of the artificial fishes. Each fish attends to a hierarchy of needs, with its brain considering the urgency of each situation. When the animation program is initiated, the operator specifies only which fish are present and their initial conditions. Upon starting the artificial life simulation, the creatures proceed to act of their own accord.

The visual results of this work are illustrated by two animations. Our 1993 animation ``Go Fish!'' [Tu, Terzopoulos and Fiume1993] shows a colorful variety of artificial fishes foraging in translucent water. A sharp hook on a line descends towards the hungry fishes and attracts them. A hapless fish, the first to bite the bait, is caught and drawn to the surface. The color plates show stills from our 1994 animation ``The Undersea World of Jack Cousto'' [Tu, Grzeszczuk and Terzopoulos1995]. Fig. gif shows a variety of animated artificial fishes. The reddish fish are engaged in a mating ritual, the large, dark colored fish is a predator hunting for small prey, the remaining fishes are feeding on plankton (white dots). Dynamic seaweeds grow from the ocean bed and sway in the current. In Fig. gif, the large male in the foreground is courtship dancing with the female (top). The prey fish in the background are engaging in schooling behavior, a common subterfuge for avoiding predators. Fig. gif shows a shark stalking the school. The detailed motions of the artificial fishes emulate the complexity and unpredictability of movement of their natural counterparts, and this enhances the visual beauty of the animations.

Figure: Artificial fishes in their physics-based world.

Figure: Mating behavior. Female (top) is courted by larger male.

Figure: Predator shark stalking school of prey fish.

next up previous contents
Next: Primary Contributions Up: Introduction Previous: Fidelity and Efficiency
Xiaoyuan TuJanuary 1996