Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Math goes to the movies

14.04.2010
Whether it's an exploding fireball in "Star Wars: Episode 3", a swirling maelstrom in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End", or beguiling rats turning out gourmet food in "Ratatouille", computer-generated effects have opened a whole new world of enchantment in cinema. All such effects are ultimately grounded in mathematics, which provides a critical translation from the physical world to computer simulations.

The use of mathematics in cinematic special effects is described in the article "Crashing Waves, Awesome Explosions, Turbulent Smoke, and Beyond: Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing in the Visual Effects Industry", which will appear in the May 2010 issue of the NOTICES OF THE AMS. The article was written by three University of California, Los Angeles, mathematicians who have made significant contributions to research in this area: Aleka McAdams, Stanley Osher, and Joseph Teran.

Mathematics provides the language for expressing physical phenomena and their interactions, often in the form of partial differential equations. These equations are usually too complex to be solved exactly, so mathematicians have developed numerical methods and algorithms that can be implemented on computers to obtain approximate solutions. The kinds of approximations needed to, for example, simulate a firestorm, were in the past computationally intractable. With faster computing equipment and more-efficient architectures, such simulations are feasible today---and they drive many of the most spectacular feats in the visual effects industry.

Another motivation for development in this area of research is the need to provide a high level of controllability in the outcome of a simulation in order to fulfill the artistic vision of scenes. To this end, special effects simulation tools, while physically based, must be able to be dynamically controlled in an intuitive manner in order to ensure believability and the quality of the effect.

The area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) provides many of the tools used in simulations of phenomena such as smoke, fire, and water. Before the use of CFD, computer-generated special effects such as explosions were driven by force fields applied to passive unconnected particles, a method that produced rather unrealistic results. Today, a combination of improved hardware and faster algorithms for CFD models have made such special effects much more realistic. CFD has also been used, unsurprisingly, to simulate water-based phenomena; in fact, such water simulation techniques were recognized by an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for the mathematician/computer scientist Ronald Fedkiw of Stanford University.

Mathematics also plays a key role in computer-generated animations of all kinds of solids, from animated characters to cityscapes. Virtually every computer-generated solid has an explicit mathematical representation as a meshed surface or volume. Flesh simulations can endow computer-generated characters with realistically bulging muscles and rippling fat. Hair simulation provides a realistic way to depict the highly complex phenomenon of thousands of hairs interacting and colliding. The article describes recent work by the the first and third authors that provides a new technique for hair simulation.

The effects industry is emerging as an exciting new frontier for mathematicians, one that uniquely combines mathematical insights with the art of moviemaking.

An advance copy of the article by McAdams, Osher, and Teran is available to reporters at the non-public URL

http://www.ams.org/jackson/fea-mcadams.pdf

Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society has more than 32,000 members. The Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.

Contacts: Mike Breen and Annette Emerson
Public Awareness Officers, American Mathematical Society
Email: paoffice@ams.org
American Mathematical Society
201 Charles Street
Providence, RI 02904
401-455-4000

Mike Breen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ams.org

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex

nachricht UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>