Autonomous Characters

Fall 2003

Tuesdays 3:00-5:50pm

Location: HIB335


Professor Bill Tomlinson


Office: ICS 430A

Office Phone: (949) 824-9333

Office Hours: Thursdays 3-5pm. Please make appointment by email to confirm time and location (my office or HIB335).


This course is a hands-on introduction to the process of making real-time animated autonomous characters. Our goal is to build characters that are intelligent, complex, perceptive, expressive and social. The tools we will use to make these characters include computer programming, computer animation and concepts from the disciplines of autonomous agents, drama, human-computer interaction and film. In particular, we will focus on how to make these characters have some of the skills of human actors. This course will have a significant computer programming component, but is designed for students with no coding experience.




Readings Due


Sept 30





Oct 2

Makeup class for Oct 7 Coding/ Emotion

Lasseter 87 (handout)

Stein 03 Ch1 (link)


Oct 7

No Class

Picard 97 (handout)

Wilson 99 (link)

Stein 03 Ch 2 (link)

Assignment 1 due

(by email)

Oct 14

Action Selection/Perception

Burke 01 (link)

Tomlinson 02 (link)

Stein 03 Ch 3 (link)

Assignment 2 due

Oct 21




Braitenberg 86 (handout)

Acting reading (TBA)

vectorpark (link)

Stein 03 Ch 4 (link)

Assignment 3 due

Oct 28


(form teams, discuss needs for group project)

Reeves 96 (handout)

Bates 94 (handout)

Stein 03 Ch 5 (link)

Assignment 4 due



Nov 4

Motor Control/Action Selection II

Perlin 96 (link)

Perlin Face Demo (link)

Stein 03 Ch 6 (link)

Final Project Part 1 due

Nov 11


Tomlinson 00 (link)

Film pamphlet (handout)

Stein 03 Ch 6 (link)

Final Project Part 2 due

Nov 18


Reichardt 78 (handout)

Stein 03 Ch 7 (link)

Final Project Part 3 due

Nov 25

Animation II

Maestri 96 (handout)

Stein 03 Ch 8 (link)


Dec 2

Presentation of Final Project


Final Project Part 4 Due

Assignments, Handouts and Links:

Professor Tomlinson will bring the assignments and any handouts to class the week before they are due. In addition to doing the assignments, you are responsible for emailing a short paragraph about each reading to Professor Tomlinson BEFORE class that week. These summaries should demonstrate that you have understood the content of each reading.






Four Assignments @ 10% = 40%

One Final Project (four sub-parts) @ 40% = 40%

One paragraph description of each reading we do = 10% (total)

Class Participation = 10%


Computer Labs

HIB 335



May also work in the ArtsLab, Studio 4 Room 104



Computer and Network Use Policy

When working on UCI systems, you are bound by the UCI Computer and Network Use Policy:


Intellectual Property Policy

The code base, models, animations and other materials that we will be using in this course belong to MIT and to Bill Tomlinson, and may be used only for purposes of to this course. Please contact Professor Tomlinson if you have questions regarding these issues.



These are guidelines intended to help students plan their work in this course. However, the instructor reserves the right to make changes over the course of the quarter.