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Old 12-24-2007   #1
ablethevoice
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Insights into digital animation

At least one of you AS members (and I honestly can't recall who it is at the moment...) is studying computer animation right now (or was when I wrote my review for King Kong) and I just found a great article describing in some detail how these incredible almost perfect animated images are created...
Thanks to LiveScience.com:
Quote:
Inside Movie Animation: Simulating 128 Billion Elements
By Toni Feder, Physics Today Magazine
posted: 24 December 2007 11:19 am ET

Ever wonder how animated films such as The Incredibles get hair, clothing, water, plants, and other details to look so realistic? Or how, like the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia, animated characters are worked into live-action films? If not, the animators would be pleased, since they don't want special effects to distract from the story. Behind the scenes, though, is a sophisticated combination of artistry, computation, and physics.

Traditionally, animation was hand drawn by artists who needed"some of the same magical eye that the Renaissance painters had, to give the impression that it's realistically illuminated," says Paul Debevec, a computer graphics researcher at the University of Southern California. Over the past decade or so, the hand-painted animation has faded as physically-based simulations have increasingly been used to achieve more realistic lighting and motion. Despite this movement toward reality in animated films, the physics of the real world remains a slave to expediency and art: Simplifications and shortcuts make the simulations faster and cheaper, and what the director wants trumps physical accuracy.

In one dramatic scene in the movie 300, which came out early in 2007, several ships collide violently -- their hulls splinter, masts break, sails tear, and the ships sink. Stephan Trojansky, who worked on 300 as visual effects supervisor for the German-based company ScanlineVFX, said just creating the ocean in that scene involved simulating 128 billion elements. “We probably created the highest fluid simulation detail ever used in visual effects,” he said.

"For the fracturing and splintering of the ships," he added, "we developed splintering technology. Wood doesn't break like a stone tower. It bends. To get realistic behavior, you have to take into account how the ship is nailed together. The physics involved is mainly equations that define where the material will break."
CONTINUED
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