Rémi Ronfard: Directing Virtual Worlds






picture Remi Ronfard

I am a research director at Inria, and the scientific leader of the Imagine team. 

I graduated from Mines Paris Tech in 1986, where I also got my PhD in 1991. I have conducted research in a variety of domains, from geometric design to 3D animation and computer vision.

This includes work on non-manifold topology in CATIA (Dassault Systèmes, 1991), mesh LODs (IBM Research, 1992), digital cartoon storyboarding (INA, 1995), aesthetic surface design (IBM Research and Dassault Systèmes, 2000), video indexing (INA, 2000), action recognition and statistical analysis of image and film styles (INRIA 2002-2007). I was an expert in the international MPEG group from
1997 to 2000.

I joined Inria in 2002 as a senior researcher (Chargé de Recherche) first in the MOVI team, then the LEAR team.

In 2007, I was the R&D director for virtual cinematography at Xtranormal Technologies. My team created the patented “magicam” system, which was used to produce two million user-generated animation movies.

I came back to INRIA in 2009 with a new research program devoted to  “directing virtual worlds”. I helped create the IMAGINE team in 2012, focusing on the “narrative design” part of the project.

Towards this goal, I investigate computational models of visual storytelling and movie-making. This leads to inspiring collaborations with the national  film school (ENS Louis Lumière), Célestins Theatre in Lyon, University of Geneva, Bernard Stiegler’s Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation, and with companies UBICAST, Thalès-Angénieux and Binocle 3D.

I have co-chaired international workshops on modeling people and human interaction (Beijing, 2005), 3-D cinematography (New York City, 2006; Banff, 2008; Providence, 2012), intelligent cinematography and editing (Quebec, 2014; Zurich, 2015; Lisbon, 2016) and computational models of narratives (Atlanta, 2015, Krakow, 2016).

I served as head of the “Geometry and Image” Department at Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann, University of Grenoble from 2012 to 2016.



Publication list of Rémi Ronfard


  • 1986 : MsC in Engineering, Ecole des Mines de Paris.
  • 1991 : PhD in Computer Science, Ecole des Mines de Paris.
  • 2009 : HDR in Computer Science, Grenoble University.
  • 2012 : Qualification for Professorship in Computer Science (2012).

Appointments held

  • Since 2018,  part-time associate researcher at ENSADLAB.
  • Since 2016 : Research Director at INRIA (DR2)..
  • 2002-2015 : Researcher at INRIA (CR1).
  • 2007-2008 : Team leader for Virtual Cinematography R&D, Xtranormal Technologies, Montreal, Canada.
  • 2000-2001 : Visiting scientist, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, USA.
  • 1994-2000 : Research Engineer, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, including 3 years as team leader for European Project DiVAN : Distributed Video Archive Network.
  • 1992-1994 : Post-doc, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, USA.
  • 1991-1992 : Research Engineer, Dassault Systèmes.

Research interests and Publications

5 most cited publications :

  • R Ronfard: Region-based strategies for active contour models, International Journal of Computer Vision 13 (2), 229-251, 1994.
  • R Ronfard, J Rossignac: Full-range approximation of triangulated polyhedra. Computer Graphics Forum 15 (3), 67-76, 1996.
  • D Weinland, R Ronfard, E Boyer:A survey of vision-based methods for action representation, segmentation and recognition. Computer Vision and Image Understanding, 2011
  • D. Weinland, R. Ronfard, E. Boyer: Free viewpoint action recognition using motion history volumes. Computer Vision and Image Understanding 1 (2), 2006.
  • D. Weinland, E Boyer, R Ronfard: Action recognition from arbitrary views using 3d exemplars. ICCV 2007.

Local scientific leadership :

  • Member of the « Commission de Spécialistes » (selection jury for assistant professors), Université Joseph Fourier (2005-2007).
  • Leader of the INRIA-Brown University Associate Team VAMP (Video and Mesh Processing for 3D Cinematography) with Gabriel Taubin et Chad Jenkins (2005-2007).
  • Head of Image and Geometry Department at Laboratoire Jean Kuntzman (LJK), Grenoble University 2011-2015).
  • Scientific leader of the IMAGINE team since 2016.
  • Executive committee member of Performance Lab project at Univ. Grenoble Alpes since 2018.

Service to the community :

  • International expert in the MPEG group (1997-1999).
  • Co-organizer of international workshop on “Modeling People and Human Interaction”, associated with ICCV in Beijing, 2005 (with Pascal Fua, Adrian Hilton, Daniel Gatica-Perez and Marian Stewart Bartlett).
  • Co-organizer of 3 international workshops on « 3-D Cinematography » in New York 2006, Banff Center 2008 and Providence 2012 (with Gabriel Taubin).
  • Co-editor of the book « 3-D Cinematography » published by Springer-Verlag in 2010.
  • Co-organizer of the Eurographics Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing (WICED) and Computational Model of Narrative (CMN) series since 2015.

Curriculum Vitae

Education PhD in Computer Science Title: Variational principles for tracking color object contours in video Supervisors : Henri Maître and Jean-Marie Monget. Date: February 1991 School: Mines Paris Tech Habilitation (HDR) Title: Automatic film analysis – from image sequences to action sequences. Readers: Roger Mohr (Grenoble University), Jean Ponce (Ecole Normale Supérieure) and Andrew Zisserman (Oxford …

Breaking News

October 2018: I am now an associate researcher with the Spatial Media team at EnsadLab, PSL University. October 2017: I was invited to give a keynote talk on “synchronization of senses”  at the ICCV workshop on Computer Vision and Audiovisual Media (CVAM). A great workshop and a great conference in the Palazzo del Cinema in …

Recent Results

Continuity editing of 3D animation (AAAI 2015) We describe an optimization-based approach for automatically creating well-edited movies from a 3D animation. We review the main causes of editing errors in literature and propose an edit-ing model relying on a minimization of such errors. We make a plausible semi-Markov assumption, resulting in a dynamic programming solution …

Research Topics

Narrative contents such as interactive games and animated movies are a major application domain for computer graphics, with implications in entertainment, education, cultural heritage, scientific communication, and professional training. In those applications, the creation of 3-D content cannot be limited to the production of shapes and motions ; it should also include the necessary steps to organize shapes …


PhD Students Maxime Garcia (3rd year) : Animation transfer – creating expressive character animation by playing and acting. Nachwa Abou Bakr (3rd year) : Observing and Understanding Human Activities (co-supervised with James Crowley). Pierre Casati (2nd year): Animating antique statues and bas-reliefs (co-supervised with Stefanie Hahmann). Ameya Murukutla (2nd year): Augmented reality teaching of anatomy (co-supervised with …


I will be teaching Computer Animation in 2019-2020 Part of Computer Graphics (M2 MOSIG, ENSIMAG, Grenoble INP, Univ.  Grenoble Alpes) The course is composed of 12 lessons. Each lesson focuses on one important concept in computer animation, one of the 12 principles of traditional animation, and one research paper. Lesson 1 : Introduction, pose to …

Research Projects