Tech Report CS-91-16

Multi-Dimensional Input Devices and Interaction Techniques for a Modeler-Animator

Melissa Y. Gold

July 1990


As powerful computers become less expensive, applications such as interactive three-dimensional modeling and animation systems, currently used by relatively few people, will become available to a much wider audience. It is therefore important to find ways to make these systems easier and more intuitive to use. One of the problems with current systems is that they typically provide users with one- or two-degree-of-freedom input devices with which to perform three-dimensional interaction tasks. This paper explores currently available multi-dimensional input devices as an alternative. It also describes experiments with using a six-degree-of-freedom input device for the tasks of point location, translation, rotation, camera placement, and path drawing in a modeling and animation system. However, even with multi-dimensional input devices, certain tasks, such as precisely placing one object in relation to another, are difficult to accomplish using only basic transformations such as translation and rotation. Accordingly, this paper also investigates a snapping technique, independent of input device, which allows users to position one object at a specific point on the surface of another.

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