Setting the Process in Motion
Encouraging the defense and entertainment industries to work together to strengthen the technology base for modeling and simulation will require more than a common research agenda. As workshop participants noted, large cultural barriers exist between the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the entertainment industry that will impede attempts to work together. If collaboration is to succeed, these barriers must be overcome and a process must be established to facilitate the kinds of collaboration that could advance this nation's modeling and simulation technology base. Consideration needs to be given to coordinating the research agendas of the two communities, such as through greater sharing of information, and to structuring cooperative research. In addition, both DOD and the entertainment industry will need to workindividually and collectivelyto ensure the continued viability of the research base from which both communities draw. They must ensure that human resources are developed that have the requisite skills for creating effective computer-based simulations and that adequate funding is provided to sustain the research base, particularly at the university level. Doing so will require additional input and advice from the academic community, whose participation in the workshop was limited.
Overcoming Cultural Barriers
The entertainment industry and DOD are two different cultures, with different languages, different business models, and separate communi-
ties of constituents (Box 3.1). To date, they have operated relatively independently of one another. Though some sharing of technology and research has occurred, much of the technology transfer has been mediated through the university research community; few direct connections have been made between companies actively engaged in developing entertainment products and services and DOD.
Movement of people between DOD and the entertainment industry is limited. Many people from the entertainment industry were reluctant to participate in the workshopor serve on the steering committee that convened the workshopbecause of the project's connection with defense and their impressions that few opportunities exist for collaboration. Nevertheless, workshop participants provided personal examples of the key movements of people between the two communities that have cross-pollinated each other's efforts: Eric Haseltine, vice-president of research and development and chief scientist at Walt Disney Imagineering, began his career in flight simulation at Hughes Aircraft Company; and Carl Norman, a senior producer with the games company Strategic Simulations Inc., is a former Marine officer who later worked on simulation and training systems for the Corps. Yet most workshop participants agreed that a movement of people between defense and entertainment is not the trend. Jordan Weisman, of Virtual World Entertainment, remarked that employee migration between the entertainment industry and DOD is minimal and that this is a contributing factor to the minimal amount of technology transfer between the two communities. Such differences both influence and are influenced by differences in the business models that the two communities follow. Overcoming them will require efforts to improve communication between members of the two communities.
Different Business Models
DOD and the entertainment industry differ significantly in their goals, motivations, and methods of doing business. These differences make it difficult for the communities to work together to advance the technology base for modeling and simulation, but with sufficient interest on both sides, ways can be found to overcome these obstacles. While few formal attempts at coordinating research or conducting joint research have been tried, a handful of companies have successfully transitioned from defense work to commercial work, demonstrating the possibility of success. Further attempts to facilitate greater coordination of research activities between DOD and the entertainment industry will have to build upon these examples to find ways to bridge the gap between the two communities.
Robert Jacobs, president and director of Illusion Inc., recounted at the workshop some of the cultural differences he has noticed between the defense modeling and simulation community and the entertainment industry. Illusion Inc. has its roots in defense simulation, owing to work on DOD's simulation network (SIMNET) project. In 1994 the company merged with another company as part of an effort to develop simulation-based systems for entertainment. As of 1996, roughly 80 percent of Illusion's revenues derived from entertainment systems.
What we discovered immediately was an enormous culture shock. Our entertainment partners had a different way of thinking than we did. The basis for pricing defense work for example, is cost. There are several different kinds of contractual formats that are used to govern what defense contractors can charge for their time and for their products, but all of them have as the base what it costs to do the job and some allowance for reasonable profitthe amount of which depends on whether the client or the contractor takes the risk. In the commercial world, things are very different. You get a good idea, you invest your own money and effort in bringing that idea to fruition, and then you charge what the market will bear. What the market will bear depends on what the other companies are doing and what the perceived value of the product is to the ultimate consumer, the public. You have to be pretty confident of your instincts in that kind of an arena to invest significant money in bringing a product to market. If you don't make it, you can't go back for an overhead rate adjustment and you can't tell the client "Gee, I'm sorry I underestimated this thing, and you've got to help me out here."
I suggested that Illusion's new partners ought to fill out time sheets and allocate their time to the jobs they were working on. They didn't understand why that was necessary because they said, "We're going to work all year, and at the end of the year what's left over after we pay everybody is the profit. So why do we have to keep track of all this stuff?" Well, we keep track of all that stuff because we still do DOD work, too, and the auditors want to see what we're doing all the time, not just while we're working on defense work.
There is also a big difference in what is
considered important in the business. We had a client come in and
ask us to describe the technical approach for the system we were
developing. I proudly launched into a very detailed description of
the marvelous new motion system that we were using on a ride we
were building and how it has advanced servo actuators, and it is
very fast and high performance, and it was a terrific bargain
compared to what was available in the marketplace. I noticed that
the client's eyes were glazed over; what the client really wanted
to know was what the ride was like and what the story was that
accompanied it. So, I let my partner from the entertainment
industry describe it, and the client was much happier. I thought
that the technical details were terrific, but nobody cares about
that kind of thing. What they want to know is what they're going to
get for the money they pay in terms of the customer's
Some of the more notable differences between the DOD and entertainment communities are listed below:
• Time horizons. Military research and development programs typically span several years; it is not unusual for a large-scale program to take a decade or more to complete. Products are often designed to be used for long periods of time, with requisite upgrades and support.1 Entertainment projects are generally much shorter in duration. Game companies may spend up to three years developing a new product; film companies will also spend a year or two producing a new film. Little attention is given to upgrades and support for older products. Many game companies, in fact, intend for their games to become obsolete soon so that customers will buy new versions.
• Market structure. Defense contractors serve a single customer (DOD) that, though comprised of many heterogeneous parts, operates with a fairly consistent business model and a standard set of procurement policies. Typically, DOD specifies up front the requirements of a system it wants developed and invites contractors to design a system that will meet the specifications. Contractors are generally reimbursed for their expenses plus a fixed profit. Entertainment companies, in contrast, serve diverse markets, with varied tastes and business models. Companies must identify market needs, formulate creative concepts that addresses those needs, and invest their own capital in developing the concept. They must also invest considerable effort in marketing new products to consumers, who may or may not buy the product in the end.
• Profitability. Most defense contracts specify the profit a contractor may make on a given project, typically on the order of 6 percent. Entertainment companies have no guarantees on profits and assume large risks with each undertaking. At the same time, successful projects in the entertainment industry can generate profit margins of 100 percent or more; the film industry relies on a limited number of such blockbuster hits to underwrite its operating expenses and compensate for the more numerous failures. Nevertheless, the great potential profitability of entertainment products limits the enthusiasm with which entertainment companies would embrace defense-related work.
• Research. DOD operates a large research and development program with fairly centralized budgeting and direction. Military needs are translated into technical requirements that spur research programs. In 1996, DOD spent $688 million on basic and applied research in computer science and mathematics. The entertainment industry lacks any coordinated direction of research. Individual firms select research projects that meet their business needs. According to Alex Seiden, of Industrial Light and Magic, most companies in the entertainment industry do not con-
duct long-term research; scientists and engineers in film and game production environments, in particular, are primarily interested in solving the problems at hand on a short time line coupled to a movie premier or game releaseoften only three months. A few entertainment companies, such as Disney, do invest more in longer-term research and development products, but such companies are few in number.
• Intellectual property. Entertainment companies have strong concerns over intellectual property rights and endure great pains to ensure control. Despite the rapid product cycles in the entertainment industry, many products build on technology incorporated into earlier products or adhere to proprietary standards and architectures that have longer useful lifetimes. While defense contractors have similar interests and concerns, working for the federal government often implies a lack of control over intellectual property rights that entertainment companies would not tolerate.
Such differences pose hurdles to any attempts to bring the entertainment industry and DOD closer together to develop modeling and simulation technologies. Indeed, defense contractors have generally failed in their attempts to diversify into commercial markets of many kinds because of the great differences in business practices.2 Defense contractors who spend internal research and development money on projects with commercial implications find they have great difficulty spinning off successful projects to commercial industry.3
Similarly, the entertainment industry complains that DOD's bureaucracy inhibits its desire to do defense-related work. Many small companies, such as video game designers and manufacturers of peripheral devices, lack the resources (money and staff) to adhere to DOD's acquisition regulations, which cover both the purchase of finished products and many research and development activities. Given the growing markets for entertainment products and the potential profitability of successful products, many entertainment companies do not find working with DOD to be an attractive alternative to their usual entertainment efforts. According to Buzz Hoffman, of ThrustMaster Inc., "developing products for the mass commercial market offers far more opportunities for profit than Defense Department contracts." Until the potential benefits of collaboration become more apparent to the entertainment industry and the associated costs can be reduced, formal collaboration will be difficult to initiate.4
Facilitating Coordination and Cooperation
A first step toward bridging the gap between the defense modeling and simulation community and the entertainment industry would be to encourage greater sharing of information between the two communities.
DOD and the entertainment industry have a great deal to learn from one another, and open collaboration and cross-fertilization could allow each to tap into the other's knowledge and better target its own research programs. Eric Haseltine, of Walt Disney Imagineering, claimed at the workshop that "the thing that the entertainment industry can get the most from DOD is just knowing what's been done, so they don't have to reinvent the wheel. If there were some places where [the entertainment industry] could go to find out what's been done before we go off and do it ourselves, that would be hugely valuable."
Few participants from DOD or the entertainment industry seem to know how to effectively exchange information between the two communities, nor are they generally aware of the mechanisms that might exist. Many workshop attendees agreed that connections between DOD have been informal and based on a limited number of personal contacts; there is a general frustration in both communities regarding ways to connect to solve problems that might be common to both. A number of workshop attendees complained that it sometimes seems easier to get information for product development from outside sources rather than government agencies, precluding many opportunities for collaboration. At the same time, workshop participants acknowledged that the entertainment industry is very fragmented and that no centralized mechanism exists for collecting information or learning about the needs of the industry as a whole. While some attempts have been made, through such organizations as the Technology Council of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, they have been limited in scope and success. Because the entertainment industry is very competitive and proprietary, entertainment companies do not freely share information about research programs or interests, and the frequent changes in employment make individual connections fleeting.
One mechanism for promoting informal information sharing between members of the defense modeling and simulation community and the entertainment industry and breaking down cultural barriers is to encourage attendance at relevant conferences that cross industry boundaries. To date, entertainment companies have not been well represented at conferences on defense modeling and simulation, nor have members of the defense industry been prominent at entertainment industry conferences. The Association of Computing Machinery's annual Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH) conference provides a forum and marketplace for exciting ideas combining research, art, education, and business in computer graphics but lacks a significant military presence. Other important conferences are the Computer Game Developer's Conference, which has seminars and roundtable discussions on many topics relevant to modeling and simulation, and the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, which has large exhibits and presentations related to in-
teractive entertainment. Several members of the entertainment industry stated that DOD's lack of participation at such conferences is a major factor behind their belief that the department has little to offer the entertainment industry in the way of relevant research or technology. By presenting more work at such conferences or setting up booths on convention floors, DOD could help artists, software developers, and executives in the entertainment industry learn about relevant DOD technology and research. At the same time, DOD would be able to see and hear about current developments in the entertainment industry that will enter the marketplace 18 to 24 months later and start to make the social connections that always facilitate information flow.
One way to help bridge the gap between DOD and entertainment industry standards initiatives is for representatives from each community to attend the other's meetings. For example, the High-level Architecture (HLA) community's Architecture Management Group (AMG) could incorporate representatives of the Internet community and of the networked games community, thereby providing them a platform for discussions and information exchanges. Greater representation from the distributed interactive simulation (DIS) community also might be considered by the AMG. In return, the communities engaged in developing Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) and virtual reality transfer protocol (vrtp) standards could encourage DOD's HLA community to attend its forums, such as the VRML Consortium. Currently, the only DOD representation at that consortium is through a membership paid for by the NPSNET Research Group of the Naval Postgraduate School. The Defense Modeling and Simulation Office (DMSO) should consider joining the VRML Consortium to benefit from the work going on there and from the contacts.
While seats on each other's technical guidance boards are one method of collaboration, another is establishment of an annual workshop similar to the successful DIS workshops. The workshop could build on the initial effort hosted by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) as part of the present project, which demonstrated the mutual benefits of bringing together members of the defense and entertainment communities. The goal of an annual workshop would be to attract technical papers and presentations from DOD, the entertainment industry, and the Internet community. Unlike the DIS workshop, the papers for this new workshop would be peer reviewed and the workshop should be held at a university center set up to shepherd the process and to provide a neutral meeting ground for defense and entertainment participants, similar to the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida. The workshop could be funded jointly by industry and DOD.
Additional progress toward collaboration in interoperability stan-
dards may emerge from the newly formed Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO). SISO is a reorganization and replacement of the group that developed DIS standards. It will continue to expand the semiannual workshops started by DIS but will separate standards development work from the workshops. SISO was established primarily to broaden interests from the real-time, platform-level simulations of DIS to all forms of interoperable simulations. SISO's mission is to (1) continue to support DIS standards, (2) assume responsibility for commercializing DOD's HLA standards, and (3) develop simulation interoperability standards for any organization that needs them. SISO sponsored a one-day seminar in January 1997 and its first Simulation Interoperability Workshop in March 1997, both of which tried to attract participation from the entertainment industry. To date, participation by the entertainment industry appears to have been limited by a lack of interest in interoperability standards and by the perception that SISO's interest is in defense simulation and propagation of the HLA.
At CSTB's workshop, several different models were discussed for facilitating collaborative work that could benefit both defense and entertainment. One possibility is for joint funding of university research in technologies associated with modeling and simulation, such as computer graphics, networking, and computer-generated characters. University research has played a key role in developing modeling and simulation technology and in disseminating that technology, largely through students, to both the entertainment and the defense industries. Alternatively, a few companies have demonstrated the possibility of operating in both the defense and the entertainment communities, either by developing technologies and products that support both industries or simply drawing on research in both fields to make separate defense and entertainment products.5 As Robert Jacobs, of Illusion Inc., stated, "We want to stay in the defense world as well as the entertainment world because of the access to wonderful technology that we recognize exists there. We think that the technology transfer happens much more effectively if the company is working in both environments."
The federal government has also established programs to encourage transfers of technology and cooperative research between government and commercial organizations. The Small Business Innovative Research program, which earmarks a percentage of federal research and development budgets for small business, requires award winners to submit plans for commercializing their technologies. The Federal Technology Transfer Act requires all federal laboratories with research and development budgets above a certain threshold to each establish an Office of Research and Technology Applications to promote technology transfer. These offices are authorized to both license federal technology to commercial industry and to enter into cooperative research and development agreements
(CRADAs) with commercial companies. Under CRADAs, federal laboratories and private companies may work jointly on projects of mutual interest: laboratories may contribute researchers or facilities to an endeavor; industry may contribute researchers, facilities, or funding. In general, laboratories are authorized to negotiate intellectual property agreements that reflect the relative contributions of government and industry to a project.6 In the defense modeling and simulation community the Technology Transfer Program of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division is playing a lead role. The Navy's Office of Training Technology and DMSO's Information Analysis Center also coordinate technology transfer activities, but it is not clear that such activities have successfully transferred technology to the commercial sector.
Two programs exist within the federal government to foster linkages between government laboratories and industry. The Federal Laboratory Consortium helps industry understand technology transfer and assists with referrals to appropriate government agencies. The National Technology Transfer Center, a federally funded center located in West Virginia, also helps researchers from industry solve problems by linking them with relevant experts at federal laboratories. Such programs are not well publicized or well known within the entertainment industry and therefore have not served as effective vehicles for sharing information as yet.
Other techniques might be useful in stimulating collaborative work between DOD and the entertainment industry. At the workshop, Jordan Weisman suggested funding competitions to stimulate the entertainment industry to work on topics that are interesting to DOD researchers. Such competitions do not need to have large monetary rewards, just great promotional opportunities. For example, a $10,000 prize has been established for computer chess systems. Alternatively, an Internet site could be set up specifically to exchange information between DOD and the entertainment industry concerning hot topics in modeling and simulation. Often there is no need to transfer algorithms; just knowing that someone else has solved a problem and seeing the solution in action will often spur the creation of better solutions. Thus, dissemination of information on existing developments might be enough to enable the two communities to benefit from each other's successes.
Workshop participants agreed that one of the most significant steps the entertainment industry and DOD can take to jointly advance modeling and simulation is to ensure a continued supply of well-educated workers and researchers. Both the entertainment industry and DOD are
critically dependent on skilled workers who understand how to develop simulations that are visually pleasing and who can resolve the technical problems associated with large-scale distributed simulations, such as latency, graceful degradation of performance as scale increases and network latencies lengthen, and maintenance of consistent state information across large numbers of simulators. The development of workers with a mixture of technical and artistic capabilities represents a particular challenge because of its interdisciplinary nature. Whereas computer science and electrical engineering departments will train technical workers to address questions about networking and distributed simulation, the creation of visually literate workers demands cooperation between engineering and art departments, which are separated by large cultural and institutional gaps.
Demand for workers with an understanding of the artistic and technical considerations embodied in modeling and simulation is growing faster than the supply.7 Such people are important not only in entertainment and defense but in manufacturing industries as well, where they can help design automobile, aircraft, and defense systems. Workshop participants indicated a shortage of talented, high-quality, experienced people to develop virtual environments, modeling and simulation software, digital animation, design, and scripting of virtual worlds. "Ask the production manager of any effects studio," reported Alex Seiden, of Industrial Light and Magic, "and [he or she] will tell you their biggest problem is the shortage of skilled animators and technical directors." Several workshop participants noted that the rapid pace at which technology is evolving is reducing the number of individuals who know how to effectively exploit the new technologies. Scott Watson, of Walt Disney Imagineering, suggested that experienced programmers who deal with multiplayer multiprocessor technical problems are at a premium. He estimated that less than 5 percent of the programming population understands such issues.
As Ed Catmull, of Pixar Animation Studios, noted, U.S. entertainment companies are raiding foreign countries for talented animators. As a result, salaries for talented animators are rising rapidly. Starting salaries for animators range from $60,000 to $100,000 per year. Production companies tend to bid up salaries as they hire away each other's workers in order to learn about new technologies and techniques. Continued salary growth in the entertainment industry could make DOD less able to attract top talent. It has already experienced problems retaining top information technology officers, both because of limited avenues for advancement at DOD and lucrative offers from commercial industry.8 According to John Latta, a consultant with 4th Wave Inc., rapid expansion of three-dimensional graphics capabilities (in hardware and software)
Tom West, author of In the Mind's Eye, discusses visual literacy in relation to advances in computer graphics: "It will be left to humans to maximize what is most valued among human capabilities and what machines cannot doand increasingly these are likely to involve the insightful and integrative capacities associated with visual modes of thought." Three-dimensional (3D) computer graphics experts extrapolate from software algorithms to graphical models and scenes; visual literacy informs individuals with creative solutions that help bridge this gulf and provide innovation. For example, an extremely valuable skill is efficiently enhancing a 3D simulated environment with realistic light, shade, and geometry while successfully managing computational and technical constraints. Mastering the economy of detail, color, compositing and visualization technique can provide realism to simulations. Knowledge of these types of computer graphics techniques involves a combination of visual literacy and technical expertise. While this highly developed combination of skills is difficult to find in a single individual, workshop attendees argued that it would provide more powerful simulations that bring about believability and convincing virtual worlds, with computational economy. This type of skill set directly overlaps with the needs of both the entertainment industry and the DOD simulation community. Visual literacy cross into the boundary of art and design education, and many workshop attendees believe it important that such educational needs be reported.
SOURCE: West, Thomas G. 1991. In the Minds Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Learning Difficulties, Computer Images, and the Ironies of Creativity. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, p. 254.
will continue to strain the talent pool, especially among women and minorities who are already underrepresented in this type of work. According to many workshop participants from the entertainment industry, the shortage of qualified workers is the single most confounding issue in the digital film effects and gaming industries today.9
Digital artists and designers are particularly valuable in creating visual models and designing graphical interface tools. Eric Haseltine, of Walt Disney Imagineering, has found that the best-designed computer user interfaces are not created by computer scientists or human factors engineers but by artists and designers who are visually literate (Box 3.2). While Disney funds and employs many university graduates with such training, the demand is much greater than the supply. Likewise, digital designers are in demand for creating virtual spaces for the Internet. Mi-
crosoft Corporation is employing increasing numbers of designers for its VChat and other social virtual spaces. The company has found that interdisciplinary and multigender teams of artists and computer scientists create the richest interactive social spaces for the Internet.10
The need for visually literate workers may also become more apparent in the defense industry, as DOD attempts to make its simulations more engaging and believable to participants. Fidelity will continue to be important in DOD's training simulations, but the fidelity of defense simulations is only part of the greater problem. As Danny Hillis, of Disney, observed at the workshop:
If you think of the basic problem of what these [training] simulators are for, it is not a problem of simulation. We are not trying to simulate the reality of, let's say, a tank. The problem is not to get something that looks like a tank. The problem is instead to cause a change in the person's mind, so that when they get into a real tank in a battlefield, they do the right thing.
In this view, the goal of a simulation is not to approximate reality as nearly as possible, but to present individuals with the appropriate set of cues to produce the training effect desired. Creating the desired change in a person's mind requires a suspension of disbelief in the individual who is experiencing, interacting, and making decisions in the simulation. It requires a complex combination of attributes that engage and teach the user. Being able to express such traits in virtual environments is a communication skill, and animators are trained in ways to map human behavior to models and motion. Many workshop participants (from both the entertainment industry and DOD) believe that these types of talents have historically been considered less important than technical skill and fidelity in defense training applications. But as one DOD participant noted, "DOD needs people telling them things they never knew about how their systems could be used."
Other nontechnical skills also are becoming more important to modeling and simulation. For example, one challenge is to model human and cultural behavior in realistic interactive virtual spaces. Creating a sense of social space in virtual reality is becoming more important to DOD, according to some workshop participants. Kirstie Bellman, of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, noted that there is a sense of social reality that is important in certain simulations, such as those represented by multiple user domains. Understanding human behavior in these artificial realities involves the expertise of multiple disciplines, combined as teams. Learning why some of these places work while others fails often requires the insight of anthropologists. Increasing demands for DOD to participate in noncombative activities, such as drug interdic-
tion and peacekeeping, demand increasing understanding of the human component of behaviors, which needs to be incorporated into modeling and simulation. While DOD has not historically funded some of these areas, it is important to reexamine the funding domain with which it operates.
Workshop participants from both the entertainment industry and DOD agreed that cross-disciplinary programs blending computer science and art are needed to provide workers with the education to support both entertainment and defense applications of modeling and simulation. Few university programs currently exist that combine visual literacy, digital design, computer science, and engineering; most universities have separate departmentsor separate schoolsfor engineering and the arts. Nevertheless, the Naval Postgraduate School recently established a master's degree program in modeling, virtual environments, and simulation. After several years of operation as a two-year program in Vancouver, the DigiPen School plans to open a four-year accredited program in Seattle, Washington, that will concentrate on training students in the creation of video games. The program combines courses in physics, math, and computer science with art and storytelling.11 The goal of such programs is not to provide graduates with narrow training in specific technologies or systems used for creating simulated environments but to ensure that they are well grounded in the disciplines involved in modeling and simulation.
Creating such programs presents a challenge. According to Alex Singer, an independent film director, some U.S. universities demonstrate tremendous resistance to the whole range of computer studies within the arts. At the workshop, Gilman Louie, of Spectrum HoloByte Inc., commented that "if you're in a computer science program, the art department won't let you into their advanced classes. The same with computer science departmentsunless you change your major." This observation is often a result of classes being oversubscribed in a major's courses that relate to digital imaging; however, the shortage of cross-disciplinary courses is related to the structure of universities. Few U.S. universities provide faculty with incentives to teach across disciplines; universities are divided into departments where funding and promotion are discipline specific. While there has been increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary work at funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, most such efforts have tended to focus on scientific and engineering fields, not on merging science and engineering with art and design.
Trying to create an academic discipline that combines science and engineering with art creates specific problems. As with other fields of science and engineering, computer science rewards researchers for publishable research, the results of which are typically expressed mathemati-
cally. Fields that combine computer science with art (e.g., computer graphics, virtual environments) have difficulty being recognized as serious areas of study, noted Michael Zyda, of the Naval Postgraduate School, because they are new fields that are often viewed as applications of computer science rather than core research areas. Proponents will have to convince the computer science community that work in this field will yield publishable results and that the arts can play more than a supportive role. According to one reviewer of this report, the SIGGRAPH community has been working on this problem for several years, with limited results.
DOD and the entertainment industry could take a more active role in encouraging the development of such programs, using existing funding mechanisms as a lever. While DOD has not historically funded educational programs in digital arts and design, these areas do appear to have a growing relevance to defense needs. Other government agencies with interests in education and work-force issues also may have an interest in such programs.
To further promote strengthening of the education system in this country, both the entertainment industry and DOD communities could promote internships to help students and administrators gain a better understanding of real-world applications of modeling and simulation. Formal arrangements might be made between universities, the entertainment industry, and DOD research labs to create programs for internships. Such programs may encompass more than just universities. During her tenure at the Visual Systems Laboratory at the Institute for Simulation and Training, Jacquelyn Ford Morie helped create such a program for undergraduate and high school students, the "Toy Scouts." Through this program, students were given access to the laboratory's virtual reality equipment and were given opportunities to develop innovative projects. Researchers and professionals from the entertainment industry, DOD, and the laboratory mentored the students, who developed several innovative applications of virtual reality technology (see the position paper by Morie in Appendix D). Similar programs at the high school and vocational levels might be effective in filling the need for skilled workers in modeling and simulation.
Maintaining the Research Base
Closely related to the problem of developing human resources is the need to maintain a strong base for research into modeling and simulation, especially at the university level. DOD has historically played a major role in funding university research in computer science. As recently as 1996, DOD provided nearly half of all federal funding for university
research in computer science; the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided most of the rest.12 Early DOD investments in university research spurred development of many technologies that have turned into billion-dollar industries that now lie at the core of both entertainment and defense modeling and simulation: workstations, graphics technology, and virtual reality.13 Such funding for university research has not only produced new knowledge and new technologies but also provided research opportunities that are significant component of students' education. "People," says Ed Catmull, "are the best products from research dollars."
Many workshop participants believe that the funding environment has changed in ways that could prove detrimental to the long-term viability of the technology base for modeling and simulation.14 Attempts to reduce the federal budget deficit and trim defense spending have put additional pressure on federal research expenditures. While total research funding for computer science has continued to grow in real terms, funding for basic research has remained flat since 1990. Most of the growth in research funding is attributable to increases in funding for applied research. Workshop participants claim that government-funded research projects are now more product oriented than they used to be.15 Research contractseven for projects considered basic and applied researchoften specify particular products, completion dates, and interim deliverables. University researchers claim that this shift, while responsive to calls for greater accountability in publicly funded research, is incompatible with fundamental research, which by its very nature is speculative and unpredictable and more likely than product-oriented research to generate fundamental change. As Ed Catmull noted at the workshop:
The thing that has benefited us all in the past are those programs where people are free to pursue wilder visions, where [researchers] can't see things exactly clearly, but they themselves become the foundations on which we build growth in the future.
Others noted that NSF funding, though it has grown in recent years, entails a higher degree of administrative overhead; the need to generate frequent proposals has taken critical research time away from researchers, including those at the NSF-funded Science and Technology Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization.16
Industry funding for university research has not compensated for the change in federal funding. Though total industry contributions to university research have grown in recent years, industry still supports just a fraction of university research.17 Workshop participants claimed that industry support for research in digital arts, virtual environments, and distributed simulation is especially small. Many entertainment companies do not support university research because they are small and see them-
selves as users of technology more than developers. In addition, industry funding of university research is generally linked to specific industry needs that are closely coupled with business priorities. As Paul Lypaczewski of Alias | Wavefront noted at the workshop, companies are in the business of generating profits, so they fund those schools and those programs whose area of research and competencies are aligned with the types of problems that companies want to fix or understand better. Companies also expect nearer-term returns from their research investments than does the government. While industry-funded university research is not necessarily incorporated immediately into products, it must move technology forward in ways that ultimately benefit industry; thus, funding decisions center around finding bodies of research that are applicable to both industry and university. Corporate sponsors also tend to demand greater control over intellectual property that results from research programs, creating a requirement for greater secrecy, which limits the dissemination of new research knowledge.
In addition, several workshop participants suggested that industry is not contributing equipment to university laboratories as it did in the past. University researchers perceive a decline in contributions by traditional donors and note that many of the newer industry leaders have not stepped up to the challenge to provide donations. The lack of computer hardware and software technology affects the availability and quality of technology for research and training in universities by limiting the kinds of systems on which students may work.
Many of these concerns mirror changes seen in funding for science and technology generally. The demise of high-profile national initiatives to invigorate scientific and technical research programs (such as the space race or the Cold War),18 constraints on federal budgets for science and engineering, and changes in patterns of industrial research and development (including the restructuring of corporate research laboratories at such companies as IBM, Xerox, and AT&T) influence the nature of research and development in many fields. Resolution may therefore require action beyond the modeling and simulation community. Nevertheless, to the extent that the modeling and simulation community can succinctly and accurately convey the nature of its concerns, such as through this report, it may be able to influence the process.
As evidenced by the workshop, strong commonalities exist between defense and entertainment applications of modeling and simulation and in the technologies needed to support them. Whereas DOD has traditionally led the field and provided a significant portion of related fund-
ing, the entertainment industry has made rapid advances in 3D graphics generation, networked simulation, computer-generated characters, and immersive environments. Aligning the research agendas of these two communties to allow greater coordination of research developments, sharing of information, and collaborative research could provide an opportunity to more rapidly and economically achieve the goals of both the defense and entertainment industries.
Linking these two communities represents a significant challenge; differences in business practices and culture need to be overcome in order to find mechanisms for cooperation and collaboration. Additional efforts will be needed to ensure adequate education of visually literate people who can create engaging simulated environments and to ensure funding for continued research. Success will rely on sustained commitment from both sidesand from a shared belief that the benefits of collaboration are worth the costs. This workshop represented the first step toward exploring the benefits and the costs of such collaboration; the fact that it attracted many participants from the entertainment industry, as well as DOD, suggests that some degree of mutual interest exists. Additional steps will need to be taken to capitalize on that interest.
1. DOD has recently expressed some interest in leasing computer hardware and software for its systemsespecially training systemsin order to shorten the time required to acquire new technologies.
2. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. 1992. After The Cold War: Living with Lower Defense Spending. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., Chapter 6.
3. Lunceford, Dell, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, personal communication, November 6, 1996.
4. However, as noted in Chapter 1, at least one project is under way to develop a system that can be used both as a military training device and a game, demonstrating that cultural obstacles can potentially be overcome.
5. Bray, Hiawatha. 1997. "Battle for Military Video Game Niche On," Boston Globe, April 16, p. 1.
6. For a more complete discussion of federal technology transfer efforts and CRADAs, see U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1993, Defense Conversion: Redirecting R&D, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
7. Armour, Barry. 1997. "A Different Kind of Artist," Computer Graphics, February, pp. 23-25.
8. Lardner, Richard. 1997. "The Future of Army Automators," Inside the Army, April 29.
9. Such sentiments have been expressed outside the workshop as well. Scott Ross, president of Digital Domain, a leading digital effects studio, also has noted a growing need for technical directors, animators, compositors, and digital artists in general. See "Hollywood Reporter," New Media, July 31, 1996.
10. Stone, Linda. 1996. "On-line Multimedia Communities," speech before the Fourth Annual Living Surfaces Conference: Design for the Internet, Chicago, Ill., November 16.
11. Wolkomir, Richard. 1996. "The School Where It's OK to Major in Fun and Games," Smithsonian, December, pp. 86-97.
12. In 1996 federal obligations for university research in computer science and mathematics totaled $593 million. DOD provided $280 million, and NSF contributed $261 million. Of the DOD funding, DARPA provided $184 million. See National Science Foundation. 1996. Federal Funds for Research and DevelopmentFiscal Years 1994, 1995, 1996. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., Table C-58.
13. Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council. 1995. Evolving the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative to Support the Nation's Information Infrastructure. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
14. The discussion of changes in the size, scope, and nature of research and development has implications far beyond those for the modeling and simulation community and are not discussed in detail in this report. CSTB has another study in progress, "Information Technology Research in a Competitive World," that will more fully examine the implications of structural changes in the conduct of research and development in information technology in universities, government, and industry.
15. National Science Foundation. 1996. National Patterns of R&D Resources: 1996. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., Tables C-25, C-26, and C-27. Conversion to constant 1996 dollars is based on gross domestic product deflators contained in Table C-1.
16. The center includes computer graphics programs at Brown University, the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Utah. It has a long-term research mission (11 years) to help improve the scientific bases for the next generation of computer graphics environments (both hardware and software). Its research is directed toward modeling, rendering, interaction, and performance.
17. In real terms, total industry funding for university research (in all fields of science and engineering) grew nearly 60 percent between 1987 and 1996, but it still represents just 7 percent of total university research funds. See National Science Foundation. 1996. National Patterns of R&D Resources: 1996. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., Table C-2.
18. The space program generated many technologies related to modeling and simulation. Satellite imagery and mapping together have been a significant driver of imaging technology.