Lucas Kovar

1960 Clay St. #203
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 746-2623 (office)

PDF version

Research Interests

My research focus is computer graphics, although my interests extend to related fields such as computer vision and robotics. My dissertation research investigated using motion capture data to build generative models of visually realistic human motion. These models allow a user to create sophisticated animations simply by providing high-level requirements for a character, e.g., ``walk up to this box and lift it''. The primary contribution of my thesis is the development of automated methods for building data-driven motion models from large data sets. This is important because the range of motion that can be produced from a data-driven model is limited by the amount of input data, and so flexible models require both large data sets and automated tools that make working with these data sets feasible. Specific results of my thesis work include:
  • A method for automatically converting a raw motion data set into a graph structure that can seamlessly attach short motions into lengthy, complex animations.
  • A fully automatic algorithm for blending captured motions, which can be used to transition between motions, interpolate motions, or exert continuous control over a motion.
  • Automated tools for building ``parameterized'' motions that can be controlled through high-level features. For example, a parameterized punch might allow an animator to create a specific punch just by specifying a target location.


Ph.D. Computer Science, November 2004
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Dissertation Topic: Automated Methods for Data-Driven Synthesis of Controllable and Realistic Human Motion
Advisor: Michael Gleicher

M.S. Computer Science, May 2001
University of Wisconsin, Madison

B.S. Physics, June 1999
Stanford University

Work Experience

Research and Development Engineer, September 2005 - present
Industrial Light and Magic, San Francisco, CA, USA
Ongoing work revolves around the architecture and implementation of the character animation engine used by LucasArts.

Consultant, June 2005-July 2005
Rockstar Games Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Provided technical consultation on Rockstar's animation engine.

Graduate Student Researcher, June 2000 - May 2005
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
Developed several techniques for automated editing and synthesis of human motion.

Research Intern, May 2001 - August 2001
Institute For Creative Technologies, Marina Del Rey, CA, USA
Developed and implemented a general technique for synthesizing arbitrarily long motions that satisfy user-specified constraints.

Teaching Assistant, September 1999 - May 2000
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
Taught lab sections in an introductory computing course. Designed and graded assignments.

Research Assistant/Programmer, June 1998 - Oct 2000
Signition, Inc., Los Alamos, NM, USA
Helped develop novel algorithms for noise reduction and signal detection at a small signal processing company.

Research Assistant, June 1997 - August 1997
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Collected and analyzed photometric data as part of a project to locate black holes.

Tutor, October 1996 - May 1998
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Tutored undergraduates in physics and mathematics.

Refereed Publications

Rachel Heck, Lucas Kovar, and Michael Gleicher. Splicing Upper-Bodyu Actions with Locomotion. Computer Graphics Forum (Eurographics 2006), September 2006.

Mankyu Sung, Lucas Kovar, and Michael Gleicher. Fast and Accurate Goal-Directed Motion Synthesis for Crowds. ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Computer Animation, July 2005.

Lucas Kovar and Michael Gleicher. Automated Extraction and Parameterization of Motions in Large Data Sets. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 23, 3 (ACM SIGGRAPH '04), July 2004.

Hyun Joon Shin, Lucas Kovar, and Michael Gleicher. Physical Touch-up of Human Motions. Pacific Graphics, October 2003.

Lucas Kovar and Michael Gleicher. Flexible Automatic Motion Blending with Registration Curves. ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Computer Animation, July 2003.

Michael Gleicher, Hyun Joon Shin, Lucas Kovar, and Andrew Jepsen. Snap-Together Motion: Assembling Run-Time Animation. ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics, April 2003.

Lucas Kovar, Michael Gleicher, and Frederic Pighin. Motion Graphs. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 21, 3 (ACM SIGGRAPH '02), July 2002.

Lucas Kovar, Michael Gleicher, and John Schreiner. Footskate Cleanup for Motion Capture Editing. ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Computer Animation, July 2002.

Lucas Kovar and Michael Gleicher. Simplicial Families of Drawings. ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Nov 2001.

Lucas Kovar. Electron Band Structure in Germanium, My Ass. Annals of Improbable Research, July 2001.


  • Cisco Fellow, 2003 - 2004
  • Intel Fellow, 2002 - 2003
  • UW-Madison CS Department Summer Research Fellowship, 2000

Professional Activities

  • Paper reviewer for SIGGRAPH, TOG, SCA, Graphic Interface, Eurographics, Graphical Models, NPAR, TPAMI, TVCG, EGWR, and JVCA

Personal Information

  • U.S. Citizen
  • Born 9/16/78
  • Martial arts experience includes tae kwon do (1.5 years), aiki-jujitsu (4 years), aiki-weapons (jo and bokken; 4 years), and capoeira (4.5 years). Moderate backgrounds in Thai kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • Two years experience in swing dancing (east coast swing and lindy hop).

Back to Lucas' home page