Backstage Pass Seminar on Scientific Visualization

A Seminar on Scientific Visualisation – By Sathish Kottravel, a Doctoral Researcher at Linköpings University, Sweden

A picture speaks a thousand words.Therefore, the world prefers that acomplex ideais conveyed through an image.

Scientists deal with huge amounts of data when dealing with physical phenomena such as the weather, space, human brain activity, and molecules. They visualise the data using various techniques of image generation. Since these images are based on data, they are accurate. Also, they are more comprehensible than the raw data. Scientists use the images to explore the data better.

According to Wikipedia, scientific visualisation is used to graphically illustrate scientific data to enable scientists to understand, illustrate, and derive insights from the data. Scientific visualisation is a subset of computer graphics which in turn is a branch of computer science.


We invited Sathish Kottravel, a doctoral researcher at the Linköpings University of Sweden to Backstage Pass, to conduct a seminar on Scientific Visualisation and its significance in game development.

We bring you an excerpt of his interview and a peek into the seminar.

About Sathish

Sathish Kottravel is a doctoral student at Linköpings University in Sweden. He specialises in Scientific Visualisation. He has published research papers in Scientific Visualisation.

His rendezvous with computer graphics started when he started working, after a bachelor’s in computer engineering, as a simulation software developer. After 6 years of work, he joined the master’s programme in Advanced Computer Graphics from Linköpings University in Sweden. After the master’s programme, he joined the university’ research force as a Research Engineer and went on to become a doctoral researcherspecialising in scientific visualisation.

Scientific Visualisation – The Seminar

Sathish started the seminar withimages of scientific visualisation and introduced the concept to us. The very techniques used for scientific visualisation also power the 3D graphics engines of game design tools. This is the common thread between scientific visualisation and game development.

Further, he spoke about the application of molecular and volume visualisation to 3D graphics and games.To elaborate,he explained how thecommon techniques such as raycasting and the depth of a field are used in making games.

The use of aesthetics in scientific visualisation was also a dominant theme of the seminar. He described the common features that aesthetics and game art and design share.

The session was interactive,and Sathish answered many questions that students had.He enthralled the audience with images and graphs showing the effective and right application of scientific visualisation.

Interview with Sathish Kottravel

Sathish, thanks for visiting us at Backstage Pass and spending 3 days of your vacation here with us. Please tell us something about your research interest?

“Thanks for having me here. I loved the interaction with the students. I specialise in the field of scientific visualisation. This is a unique field of study where mathematics, programming and aesthetics overlap. This field is also quite interdisciplinary, meaning the knowledge that you gained can be applied in many areas such as game development, special effects, graphics application developer, research, and so on.”

Can you tell us about your research in this field?

” I do research in thevisualisation of scientific data. Currently,I specialize in molecular visualisation. Here, my primary goal is to explore material structures and proteins at theatomic level in high-detail. Also, my research implicitly includes volume visualisation at low-detail representation.

My team of researchers work in close collaboration with physicists to help them understand the scientific process through any desired visualisation techniques. Some of my research publications are published here.

How is this related to computer graphics and gaming?

“The volume visualisation techniques such as volume rendering is often used in 3D graphics. For example, realistic rendering of fire. In molecular visualisation, we use techniques such as ambient occlusion to create the effect of soft shadows to improve the depth perception. The depth of field is also another technique inspired by digital photography thatfocuseson one plane. All these techniques are quite common in 3D games that borrow ideas from computer graphics.”

What are the new technologies that are being used in Scientific Visualisation?

“The new technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and haptics are used for scientific visualisation.”

What Activities Did You Conduct for the Backstage Pass Students?

“On Day 1, I conducted a seminar to give an overview of scientific visualisation and its significance in the field of 3D graphics. On day 2, I organised a workshop.  The aim of the workshop is to introduce shader programming tasks to implement special effects filters. We framed the tasks into basic, intermediate and advanced levels and day 3 was open for discussions and Q&A.

How was Your Experience Interacting with the Students of Backstage Pass?

“During the seminar, the students were very enthusiastic about the techniques that I presented in the seminar and had many questions. They asked about GPU optimization and raytracing.

During the workshop on Day 2, the student’s feedback was excellent. Also, I observed that the students are good at programming. They could solve all the tasks that we assigned to them. They showed interest in extending the basic ideas discussed on Day 1.

This shows that the institute has awell-structured syllabus and active environment for learning game development. I am certain that the students are industry ready.”

What is Your Advice toBackstage Pass Students?

“Backstage Pass has an excellent infrastructure that is easily accessible to students. The college has strong ties with the gaming industry, and these industry collaborations put themmiles ahead as the ties increase the students’ industry interaction multi-fold. To stand out in the crowd, students must make use of this resourceful environment as much as possible.”


Thank you, Sathish, once again, for sharing knowledge and giving a glimpse of scientific visualisation in gaming.