Interactive formation control in complex environments

Joseph Henry, Hubert P. H. Shum, Taku Komura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The degrees of freedom of a crowd is much higher than that provided by a standard user input device. Typically, crowd control systems require multiple passes to design crowd movements by specifying waypoints, and then defining character trajectories and crowd formation. Such multi-pass control would spoil the responsiveness and excitement of real-time control systems. In this paper, we propose a single-pass algorithm to control a crowd in complex environments. We observe that low level details in crowd movement are related to interactions between characters and the environment, such as diverging/merging at cross points, or climbing over obstacles. Therefore, we simplify the problem by representing the crowd with a deformable mesh, and allow the user, via multi-touch input, to specify high level movements and formations that are important for context delivery. To help prevent congestion, our system dynamically reassigns characters in the formation by employing a mass transport solver to minimise their overall movement. The solver uses a cost function to evaluate the impact from the environment, including obstacles and areas affecting movement speed. Experimental results show realistic crowd movement created with minimal high-level user inputs. Our algorithm is particularly useful for real-time applications including strategy games and interactive animation creation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number99
Early online date16 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


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