Going for glitz...and other perils of scientific visualization.
Wayne Lytle's demonstration of his slick visualization software starts off innocently enough. And Viz-O-Matic's on-screen commands make it all too easy to proceed.
LOAD DATA: A block of 30 numbers - white digits against a stark, black background - appears on an uncluttered display.
VISUALIZE: A rectangular grid materializes, then crinkles into a jagged, three-dimensional landscape in which the heights at various points correspond to the original numbers.
INTERPOLATE See interpolation. : The ragged contours smooth themselves into gently undulating terrain. Increasing the glitziness level from 0 to 5.6 paints the landscape in vivid hues, from red-tinged peaks to blue-bottomed valleys.
ENHANCE DATA: Two data points look out of place; one peak is raised, a hollow deepended. As the glitziness scale climbs to 8.4, the entire scene begins to rock gently from side to side. A stream of tracer particles - a vagrant VAGRANT. Generally by the word vagrant is understood a person who lives idly without any settled home; but this definition is much enlarged by some statutes, and it includes those who refuse to work, or go about begging. See 1 Wils. R. 331; 5 East, R. 339: 8 T. R. 26. cloud of overweight snowflakes snowflakes
small patches of gray or white hair acquired after birth. Skin color is unchanged. See also achromotrichia, vitiligo. - wanders down the slopes.
ANNOTATE annotate - annotation : Uninformative un·in·for·ma·tive
Providing little or no information; not informative.
unin·for labels and cryptic scales flash into view. Time passes in units of googolseconds.
CREATE TITLE: Trickles of insipid music accompany the appearance of a lengthy, jargon-laden heading.
NARRATE: An unintelligible, droning voice adds to the aural and visual cacophony. As Viz-O-Matic's glitziness level rises to 10, the landscape itself begins to flutter, like a flag waving in an uncertain breeze.
Lytle's shy spoof of scientific visualization lasts just 60 seconds.
Yet it deftly captures many of the concerns that scientists and graphics professionals share about the overuse overuse Health care The common use of a particular intervention even when the benefits of the intervention don't justify the potential harm or cost–eg, prescribing antibiotics for a probable viral URI. Cf Misuse, Underuse. or inappropriate use of computer graphics techniques for visualizing scientific data.
"Scientific visualization should enhance our knowledge of a given phenomenon, not draw attention to the graphics techniques themselves or, worse, deceive the viewer," Lytle says. "Viz-O-Matic is a fictitious software package that automatically produces bad visualization."
He speaks from five years of experience as a visualization specialist at the Cornell Theory Center Cornell Theory Center - (CTC) One of four supercomputing centers funded by the US National Science Foundation. The CTC also receives funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institutes of Health, New York State, IBM Corporation, and other members of the at Cornell University. Over the years, Lytle has helped scientists create animations representing gravity maps of the Martian moon Phobos, planets orbiting a pulsar, and laser pulses destroying an eye tumor, among other phenomena. He has also produced inventive animations ingeniously tuned to music of his own composition.
Called "The Dangers of Glitziness and Other Visualization Faux Pas," Lytle's brief, animated parody of scientific graphics was prepared for and presented at SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics, www.siggraph.org) The arm of the ACM that specializes in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Providing publications, workshops and conferences, it has served technicians and researchers as well as the artist and business community 93, held in August in Anaheim, Calif. This annual conference serves as the leading forum for computer graphics research.
"I specifically had SIGGRAPH in mind because I knew this was the audience that would appreciate hearing the message," Lytle says. "There are all kinds of mistakes possible, and I tried to incorporate as many as I could."
His animation proved one of the biggest hits of the meeting. Everybody thought it was hilarious, says Mike Bailey, manager of the visualization group at the San Diego Supercomputer Center “SDSC” redirects here. For the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, see Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is an organized research unit of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). . More than a few of these viewers may have recognized in the film's exaggerations some of their own transgressions.
Not so long ago, scientists had to be content with studying and presenting their data in simple charts, tables, graphs, and other rudimentary forms. But these techniques have faltered lately in the face of a rapidly swelling ocean of data - from satellite observations of Earth, from massive detectors focusd on high-energy collisions between elementary particles, from supercomputer simulatins of complex physical phenomena, and from many other sources.
So researchers have turned increasingly to new, computer-intensive methods of visualizing data in order to sort out information, extract meaningful results, and gain important insights. Powerful desktop computers coupled with sophisticated scientific visualization software now allow scientists to explore their data so they can pick out regions of interest - to find the nuggets Nuggets can refer to several branches of interest:
But treacherous potholes lie in wait for the unwary user speeding along this particular road to understanding. It's easy to get caught up in the graphics candy store and to forget the scientific purpose of such representations. Sometimes the results really do look too good to be true.
This issue came up at a workshop held last February at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, which bought together the visualization staffs from the four national supercomputing centers funded by the National Science Foundation. "Everyone agreed that you could be overglitzy and that you could hide the data more than reveal it," Bailey notes.
From their own experience, workshop participants could cite a variety of examples of the kinds of problems that sometimes arise, ranging from the cavalier treatment of data to the careful selection of viewpoint to hide an unewlcome feature. Often, the scientist or visualizer vi·su·al·iz·er
One who visualizes, especially a person whose mental images are predominantly visual.
Noun 1. visualizer - one whose prevailing mental imagery is visual
visualiser has no intent to deceive but merely wishes to make an attractive picture or to present a compelling argument.
"I think we have all seen cases where there was a very small amount of data, but the sparseness of the data was not clear in the final visualization," says Joel Welling of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) is a joint effort between Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and Westinghouse Electric Company. PSC was founded in 1986 by its two Scientific Directors, Dr. Ralph Roskies of University of Pittsburgh and Dr. . Similarly, viewers aren't always told whether the data were smoothed or massaged in some way or the angle of view specially chosen, he adds.
"There's a huge bag of tricks for revealing insights--exaggerating color or scale, for example," Bailey says. "But if you need to do it, you've got to document it."
At the same time, visualization experts themselves don't mind showing off a little, especially when their work appears at SIGGRAPH, where scientific visualization shares the stage with dancing raisins and Hollywood dinosaurs.
The workshop discussion prompted Welling to propose and circulate a set of guidelines for doing scientific visualization. His rules range from the obvious but still sometimes forgotten (for example, providing time scales and units of measurement Units of measurement
Values, quantities, or magnitudes in terms of which other such are expressed. Units are grouped into systems, suitable for use in the measurement of physical quantities and in the convenient statement of laws relating physical quantities. ) to the subtle (such as ensuring that visualizations drawn and choreographed from scratch don't give the impression they are based on physical law).
In essence, Weling's guidelines represent a call for full disclosure - a kind of truth-in-packaging for scientific visualization.
The same discussion inspired Lytle to capture these concerns on film. "I decided that one interesting way to bring even more attention to this would be to do a spoof of scientific visualization," Lytle says.
Using Wavefront Noun 1. wavefront - (physics) an imaginary surface joining all points in space that are reached at the same instant by a wave propagating through a medium
wave front software to draw and color his images and his own Animation Development Environment software to choreograph the motion, Lytle spent several months creating his little caricature of visualization, carefully fitting its elements into a compact, minute-long package.
From unnecessary glitziness to unintelligible narration, "it's all typical stuff that poor scientific visualization shows," Lytle says. "I'm hoping viewers will not only laugh, but think twice about making the same mistakes."
His creation has certainly attracted attention. "It really is wonderful piece," Welling says. "I'm going to add it to my classes on how to do graphics."
Viz-O-Matic's glitziness level climbs beyond 10 into the superglitz range.
The landscape acquires a metallic, phantasmagorical Adj. 1. phantasmagorical - characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions; "a great concourse of phantasmagoric shadows"--J.C.Powys; "the incongruous imagery in surreal art and literature"
phantasmagoric, surreal, surrealistic sheen. The background colors oscillate To swing back and forth between the minimum and maximum values. An oscillation is one cycle, typically one complete wave in an alternating frequency. from one eye-popping shade to another. The whole scene begins to gyrate gy·rate
1. To revolve around a fixed point or axis.
2. To revolve in or as if in a circle or spiral.
In rings; coiled or convoluted. widly as if it were desperately trying to escape the screen.
Suddenly, the display freezes and an error message appears: Glitz glitz Informal
Ostentatious showiness; flashiness: "a garish barrage of show-biz glitz" Peter G. Davis.
tr.v. buffer overload. Reboot.