SGP Graduate School – 7/8th July 2014 – Day One

Leaving at 5.30am to drive to Cardiff on a Monday morning was surprisingly enjoyable. The serenity of blasting along the M4 (at EXACTLY 70mph) was extremely relaxing as the sun slowly woke up. I was feeling sorry for the lady on Radio One who had been on air since 4am, and was laughing at her own jokes as she was a solo act. At times I gave her some sympathy chuckles even though I knew she wouldn’t hear me.

Two hours in and I had just past Bristol, coming up to the new Severn crossing. This was the first time I had ever been to Wales and somehow I had great expectations of it being a strange a foreign land. Similarly I had gone to Scotland for the first time a few years ago only to be disappointed that Edinburgh was just filled with the usual H&M and McDonald’s. At least there, it sounded like they spoke another language.

The Severn crossing was glorious:
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and even the toll booths were fun!
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I arrived just before 8am and was greeted by Samantha from Cardiff University. It was all very well organised and I had time to sit down to get a quick bite to eat before the lectures began.

The canteen was open for the early arrivals and I was instantly captivated by the “Welsh Breakfast”. I always like to try the local cuisine when I am there so the “Welsh Sausage” and “Welsh Tomatoes” seemed rather exotic – I wasn’t sure if my stomach was ready for such adventurous choices but when in Wales right?

When it arrived, it looked exactly like an English breakfast. Turns out all that was welsh about it was that the ingredients were probably bought at an ASDA in Wales.

Scoffed it down and then my pal and PhD colleague Jon Slade arrived and we headed for the first talk.

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Laplace-Beltrami: The Swiss Army Knife of Geometry Processing – Justin Solomon (Standford), Keenan Crane (Columbia), Etienna Vouga (Harvard)

Monday morning, 9am. Nothing better to learn about than the ol’ Laplacian in detail! Three very excitable and passionate speakers managed to captivate the crowd. So the laplacian is brilliant for smoothing functions but I struggle to make the instant connection for 3D buildings… although “cartoonised” buildings with curved edges would be quite fun! Will have to investigate more when I have time.

Tutorial on Generative Modelling – Ulrich Krispel, Christoph Schinko, Torsten Ullrich (Graz Uni Tech, Austria)

This was one of the talks I was most excited about, and with 2 hrs 30 mins dedicated to it, I was overjoyed. Sadly, the presenter began with a faux-pas of apologising first as “they weren’t his slides”. The tutorial was enjoyable and I began formulating all these great and fun things to do with generative modelling. There was a question at the end from the audience which went along the lines of “Er mate, why bother with generative modelling when you could just like, totally attach real facades from oblique imagery?” This fed very well into my summer project as it shows the ignorance of the benefits of non-photorealistic rendering and also the difficulties of photorealistic textures.

LIBIGL: a C++ library for geometry processing without a mesh data structure – Daniele Panozzo (ETH Zurich), Alec Jacobson (Columbia)

This was pretty much two guys reading and explaining the documentation to their C++ library which was developed with their team for geometry processing. Saying that, some of the stuff that was possible within this library was pretty amazing. Once again, smoothing was the main objective though some talks of texturing capture my interest. Will have to follow up when I have time…

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With that, it was the end of the day of lectures. Managed to speak to a few of the other attendees although most were proper computer scientists and mathematicians. Met a bloke called Konrad Wenzel from Stuttgart University. He’s a photogrammetry PhD, ex- student of Jan Boehm and has recently been speaking to Ordnance Survey about his work. What a small world!

We went for a walking tour of Cardiff followed by a 3D chat-filled evening meal. I had a local Welsh pie, washed down with a pint of Welsh ale and called it an early night.

Got to the hotel to check in and found what can only be described as a “pimpin'” couch:

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…which was handy as I wanted to be reclining on my side Caligula-style.

“Kelvin triclinium intrat et circumspectat. Kelvin est laetissimus”

End of Day One!

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