Research Highlights / Full Story

"My role is to take the data from a simulation and create something visual the brain can understand," says Bischof. "I'm like a movie director directing a script."

Bischof, a professor in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, works with his colleagues in the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation to visualize data generated by large-scale simulations.

To create the mini-movies, he executes hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code into a visualization framework system called Spiegel. Bischof, along with some of his students, created Spiegel.

The visualization system can't automatically direct the view of the scene to the events that are of interest to scientists, but Bischof can program Spiegel to move a view to a given position, create a new view, and add illumination to the artificial objects.

"We can watch the speed and distance of the black holes," says Bischof. "As they get closer to each other, the gravitational pull increases and they collide. With these movies, you can actually see it happen."

The timeline to create a movie can take anywhere from minutes to months depending on the complexity of the visualization and the amount of data. Bischof has created thousands of movies.

Bischof recently presented his visualization framework at MSV'13—the 2013 International Conference on Modeling, Simulation and Visualization Methods.

In addition to black hole collisions, Bischof has made movies to visualize the structures of proteins, the effects of the Black Death pandemic on the world's population, and a building complex extrapolated from laser-point data.

To view some of Bischof's movies, go to