The Virtual Director

September 1st, 1992 - February 22nd, 1997

Categories: Applications, MS / PhD Thesis, Software, VR

2 Stills from Cosmic Voyage
2 Stills from Cosmic Voyage


“The Virtual Director” is a virtual reality interface that enables gestural motion capture and voice control of navigation, editing, and recording in the CAVE, ImmersaDesk™, and Infinity Wall™ virtual reality systems.

Originally developed between 1992-1995 to help create the “Cosmic Voyage”, IMAX movie, Virtual Director premiered at SIGGRAPH 94’s VROOM - the Virtual Reality Room exhibit. The CAVE was used to capture and playback users’ input / navigation in real-time. The VROOM demonstration used an astronomical simulation of colliding galaxies, fully rendered in batch mode on a supercomputer and then visualized with Wavefront, as its control data.

Historically, controlling camera motion has been one of the most clumsy aspects of computer animation. When camera motion is recorded and played back using virtual reality, the control mechanism is much more user-friendly and natural for novice users than attempting camera control with traditional methods. Virtual reality facilitates the real-time interface for camera motion viewing, recording, and playback. Virtual Director is robust and can be applied to various 3D imaging settings as well as scientific datasets.

A primary goal is to enable scientists to manage, navigate, and document interactive VR explorations in real-time and then re-render the simulation data at higher resolution in non-real-time. “The Virtual Director” provides virtual choreography of multiple applications including Cave5D and also provides remote virtual collaboration capabilities, linking together CAVE devices and people represented as customized avatars.

The current Virtual Director development team is part of the Grid Technology Group in the NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), UIUC.