Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Computer Scientist Reveals the Math and Science behind Blockbuster Movies


"The simulation of gases, liquids and combustion for scientific reasons quickly translates into the ability to make animations of smoke, water and fire," Fedkiw said. "Similar statements hold for soft biological tissues, muscles, fractures and other solid material problems. Once the scientific numerical simulations are worked out, interesting animations can be made shortly thereafter."
Ron Fedkiw
Associate Professor Ron Fedkiw uses computational physics to model the human face for virtual surgery applications

Associate Professor Ron Fedkiw uses computational physics to model the human face for virtual surgery applications. Fedkiw received a Packard Foundation Fellowship for simulations of humans.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Science Lessons from Hollywood flunk out


Phil Plait's website (I think I posted this in an earlier blog, but here it is again)


Visual Communication in Dentistry

from 2005

“Thanks to digital imaging and Adobe Photoshop, patient planning and treatment are more advanced and precise than ever,” says Dr. Martinez. “Instead of relying solely on X-rays, plaster casts, and written notes, I can communicate visually with dental labs and patients. The result is more precise treatments, and more satisfied patients.”

Hollywood Math and Science Film Consulting


Hollywood Math and Science Film Consulting will ensure that the technical details and jargon in your script sound believable, whether they be mathematical, scientific, or medical. We will ensure that the backdrops in your scenes—the writing on the blackboards, the equipment in the labs—look realistic; that your universities look like universities and your academics act like academics. We have mathematicians, scientists, and physicians to serve you, and we have contacts in academia all over the world to assist us.We at Hollywood Math and Science Film Consulting don't want to destroy the fantasy of films. We can enhance your film's production design by guaranteeing the authenticity of its setting and that of your props. We can also provide the research relevant to and required by your project to ensure a credible and compelling storyline.In short, we will see that your script sounds right without affecting or undermining your story.


Visual Effects Society
The Visual Effects Society (VES) is a non-profit professional, honorary society, dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of visual effects and to improving the welfare of its members by providing professional enrichment and education, fostering community, and promoting industry recognition.

Motion Capture Society
MCS intends to become the most respected and accessible global organization for creative motion capture professionals. MCS will support motion capture professionals at every level by offering a range of services to connect, inform, educate and promote, by celebrating achievement, excellence and innovation in all aspects of motion capture.

Seven Films that Might Be Bake-Off Bound

By Carolyn Giardina
Nov 13, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal)
The Golden Compass (New Line Cinema)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Warner Bros.)
I Am Legend (Warner Bros.)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Disney)
Spider-Man 3 (Sony Pictures)
Transformers (Paramount/DreamWorks)

Battle of the Bakeoff


Nov. 13, 2007

The visual effects bake-off presents seven films that are up for consideration for the visual effects oscar nod, but what about the race to be one of those seven films??
This year has had a huge variety of visual effects films and the work is getting more complex: sand, goo, water, cg with live action, lighting, practical effects!! Then throw Beowulf in the mix and everything gets blurred. Should the time frame be a factor as well? If you have 8 months to do 700 shots or 1 year to do 500...should those films be balanced accordingly?

2007 Annie Award Nominations


Animated Effects - Individual achievement
*Gary Bruins – “Ratatouille” – Pixar Animation Studios
*Deborah Carlson – “Surf’s Up” – Sony Pictures Animation
*Ryan Laney – “Spider-Man 3” – Sony Pictures Imageworks
*James Mansfield – “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater” – Walt Disney Feature Animation
*Jon Reisch – “Ratatouille” – Pixar Animation Studios

Academy Event

Fantastic Reality: The Magic and Mystery of Movie Matte Painting

Hosted by Academy Award Nominee and Academy Governor Craig Barron

Monday, December 10, 2007 at 8PM

Take a journey through 100 years of movie matte painting from traditional to digital with clips from King Kong (1933), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Citizen Kane (1941), and Star Wars (1977), to name a few.

There is also an exhibit in the Linwood Dunn Theater foyer to go along with the presentation:

Playing God: The Art and Artists of Matte Painting

History of Effects in Film Timeline

Nova online has an entire timeline of the history of visual effects in film:


Special Effects: Titanic and Beyond
on Nova

(clip not from Nova...just found from a search)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Science of Superheroes

by Lois H. Gresh (Author), Robert Weinberg (Author)

From the Inside Flap:

If the planet Krypton had a gravitational field strong enough to account for Superman’s amazing strength, would it be possible to launch a rocket ship from the planet’s surface? Assuming that the Flash could actually travel at the speed of light, would any villain ever stand a chance against him? Could evolution actually produce X-Men?
The Science of Superheroes takes a light-hearted but clear-headed look at the real science that underlies some of the greatest superhero comic books of all time, including Spider-Man, Batman, the Fantastic Four, and many more. Each chapter presents the story of the origin of one or more superheroes and asks intriguing questions that lead to fascinating discussions about the limits of science, the laws of nature, and the future of technology.
If gamma rays can’t turn a 128-pound weakling into the Incredible Hulk, what could? Are Spider-Man’s powers really those of a spider? Could a person ever breathe water like a fish? From telepathy to teleportation, from cloning to cosmic rays, this vastly entertaining romp through the nexus of science and fantasy separates the possible from the plausible and the barely plausible from the utterly ridiculous.
You’ll discover the connection between black holes and green lanterns; what Galileo could have told Professor Pym about the stresses caused by shrinking and growing; and how many of Batman’s "inventions" anticipated actual technological developments such as the jet pack, unmanned aerial surveillance, and the optical laser. You’ll even learn how comic book writers use "technobabble" to create seemingly credible explanations of improbable superpowers and bizarre events.
Packed with fascinating accounts of how these characters were developed, The Science of Superheroes celebrates the ingenuity and imagination of the writers and artists who created them and offers helpful suggestions on how the origin stories of certain characters could be made more believable. It offers immensely enjoyable and informative reading for anyone who loves science, superheroes, or both.

Friday, December 7, 2007



National Geographic Channel
"A Night of Dinosaur Discoveries"

Dino Death Trap
Sunday Dec. 9th @8pm
Imagine the dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures of the mid-Jurassic–predators and prey–locked in the daily struggle of survival. Suddenly, a volcanic cataclysm–a dinosaur Pompeii–engulfs them. Some die in an instant. Others break for the safety of the horizon as hot ash rains down on surrounding wetlands. As they plow through the forming ashy mud, they are swallowed, as though by quicksand, frozen in death for 160 million years. Until now.

It's advancing technologies that help us to visualize how the world was all those millions of years ago. They even use highly sophisticated CT machines to scan dinosaur fossils and peer within rocks to view the dinosaur formations.


Quick article about the history of scientific visualization:

During the Renaissance, popular belief held that the visual study of nature could, in fact, reveal the hidden laws of nature. This prompted da Vinci and other artists to look beneath the surface of the skin and to record the anatomy in detail. This was quite a revolutionary idea at the time. Artists and scientists began working together to create books -- anatomy and botany books -- and new disciplines were thus created that are still important tools for physicians and scientists today. This philosophy -- that you visually study nature to reveal the hidden laws of nature -- was developed by Renaissance artists and scientists, and it set the stage for the scientific revolution. Galileo developed the scientific methodology of visually and objectively recording data that may lead to the formation of hypotheses, having one's peers test these hypotheses, and eventually forming a scientific theory. This is how scientists still work today.

"Top Scientific Visualization Research Problems"

Dr. Christopher R. Johnson
In IEEE Computer Graphics and Visualization: Visualization Viewpoints, pp. 2--6. July/August, 2004
Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute at the University of Utah
"Scientific visualization as currently understood and practiced is still a relatively new discipline. As a result, we visualization researchers are not necessarily accustomed to undertaking the sorts of self-examinations that other scientists routinely undergo in relation to their work. Yet if we are to create a disciplinary culture focused on matters of real scientific importance and committed to real progress, it is essential that we ask ourselves hard questions on an ongoing basis. What are the most important research issues facing us? What underlying assumptions need to be challenged and perhaps abandoned? What practices need to be reviewed? In this article, I attempt to start a discussion of these issues by proposing a list of top research problems and issues in scientific visualization."

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Last time I was home I stopped by our science center COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, OH. It's a wonderful place for hands-on science experiences (there's the California Science Center just south of USC campus as well) and they had a traveling animation exhibit: http://www.cosi.org/visitors/exhibits/animation-ex/

They had a bunch of down-shooters set up to do your own frame-by-frame stop motion animations. There was a 'foley' room, a digital station, an area to make flipbooks, and even a few volumes where you could place yourself into animated scenes in realtime (even one that did bullet-time motion). There were signs all around explaining the techniques as well taking you through the history of animation.
sponsored by Cartoon Network

This is the current technological exhibit: http://www.cosi.org/visitors/exhibits/WOSU/
about the art and science of television production.


This isn't related to VFX, but throughout this blog a lot of my focus has been toward science and education. How has science class evolved since my days of elementary school? What efforts are being made to engage the students and hold their interest in the topics? How are the teaching strategies of science class evolving with technology?
I came across the FOSS science curriculum (Full Option Science System) which has been officially adopted by the California State Board of Education http://www.fossweb.com/CA/
It is a program that supplies technological resources and encourages teachers to incorporate those into the curriculum, while maintaining state educational standards. Some of these technologies are computers in every classroom, with the teacher station having 'more power' and maybe a DVD station, cordless microscopes, etc.
Activities are catagorized by grade level available for parents and teachers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

USC Vector Journal

Vector: Jornal of culture and Technology in a dynamic vernacular

Vectors maps the multiple contours of daily life in an unevenly digital era, crystallizing around themes that highlight the social, political, and cultural stakes of our increasingly technologically-mediated existence. As such, the journal speaks both implicitly and explicitly to key debates across varied disciplines, including issues of globalization, mobility, power, and access. Operating at the intersection of culture, creativity, and technology, the journal focuses on the myriad ways technology shapes, transforms, reconfigures, and/or impedes social relations, both in the past and in the present.


It's a very interesting journal. Most of the projects are interactive and some of them are scientific visualization.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Here is an interesting article about creation of Beowulf:
The best thing is that you can discuss the creation of Beowulf on CGtalk with its animation supervisor here:

Catalina Island - Visualizing Science project

Here is a test render of Catalina Island that me and Prof. Eric Hanson are working on. L.A. coast is right now an island but I'm putting together the DEM files to correct it. I'll post more information about this project soon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heart Surgery....as a game??

You get to play surgeon for an open-heart surgery. This takes you through heart anatomy, so you can prepare for surgery, then you go from prep all the way through post-op (and you're timed).

I haven't gone too far in this game. I remember playing the simple board game 'operation' which really had no medical value!
Can you imagine your doctors learning and practicing by performing virtual surgeries? The more practice the better....I just hope no one gets the idea that they can perform surgery because they did it in a video game!!!

I love the disclaimer with this game:
"In case of real medical emergency, do not perform any of these operations or use this game as a guide. Seek professional help immediately."

The Nintendo Wii also has a surgery game called 'Trauma Center'.

Virtual Hip Replacement hahaha

ScienceDaily 1998
NASA 'Software Scalpel' Helps Doctors Practice Operations

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cell Animation


Animation Research Group at Ohio State (ARGOS)

"Animation Research Group at Ohio State(ARGOS), headed by Dr. Rick Parent, the author of Computer Animation: Algorithms and Techniques, published by Morgan Kaufmann in 2001, is involved in various aspects of computer animation with special focus on animation of the human figure. Currently, the group is working mainly in the areas of facial animation and model-based techniques to track human figures in video."

Volume Graphics Research Group

Time-Varying Data Visualization

Saturday, November 24, 2007

More SIGGRAPH 2007

Computer Animation Festival

Art Gallery


Emerging Technologies

NVIDIA's Human Head Demo

'Total Lunar Eclipse'

"Astronomer Edward Rhodes Jr. of the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences narrates a lunar light show, including a computer simulation of the Aug. 28 total lunar eclipse and his photography of the eclipse."

'The Importance of the Image to Progress in Science'

slideshow narrated by Daniela Bleichmar, assistant professor of art history and of Spanish and Portuguese at the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

'Quaking in California'

A Lecture given by James Dolan, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, during USC Parents Weekend 2007
by USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

"[Learn] about the faults beneath our feet — why we have earthquakes in California, where the major faults are and how they store and release seismic energy in large, damaging shakers. Learn too how all we've learned about seismic hazards have actually made us safer today than just 20 years ago."

'Ecological Solutions for the 21st Century'

A Lecture by Dr. Tony Michaels, Professor of Biological Sciences and director of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, given during USC Parents Weekend 2007
by USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

"Hear about novel and cutting-edge research that USC marine scientists are conducting to solve environmental problems at low cost or even at a profit, and how these methods can be adopted by the private sector. Such ideas include using microbes to treat sewage and generate electricity simultaneously, or having robots run offshore fish farms a hundred miles away from sensitive coastal waters."

Medical Animation

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Science goes Hollywood

Science goes Hollywood: Selective Outrage over the Latest Movie Inaccuracies
(The New Atlantis, 2004)http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/5/soa/scimovies.htmmentions the movies Godsend and The Day After Tomorrow.

When Science Goes Hollywood
(Columbus Dispatch 2004)

Science Going Hollywood
Saturday, April 07, 2007
article excerpt: "Discussion about the apparent need for scientists to be more publicly appealing is presently going on over at The Intersection by Chris Mooney and Framing Science by Matthew Nisbet. The general idea is that scientists need to develop and deploy a sophisticated public relations persona with the intent of converting scientific unbelievers. It’s a nice thought but it’s never going to happen." original article Posted by buridan on 04/07 at 05:12 PM location: http://www.buridansass.com/index.php?/buridan/science_going_hollywood/ http://www.buridansass.com/index.php?/buridan/clarification_on_science_going_hollywood/

Blade Runner

It had to be mentioned =)


Blade Runner Final Cut Trailer

Representation of Science in Hollywood: Jurassic Park

"Contemporary developments in science have provided the source of threat in horror and science fiction narratives since the early days of cinema. In the 1930s surgical techniques and electricity were vital for the creation of life, for example, by that archetypal mad scientist Victor Frankenstein; nuclear energy and its capacity for mutation started to feature in the 1950s; environmental pollution produced monsters in the ecologically conscious 1970s; while in the 1990s, genetic engineering emerged as the new technology by which mankind could create or modify life. In addition, the Hollywood films of today display an unprecedented attention to scientific detail. This reading uses Jurassic Park (1993), the first genetic engineering blockbuster, to discuss how science is represented in Hollywood films of the 1990s. "

"This reading was later used in Chapter 3 of my book Screening DNA: Exploring the Cinema-Genetics Interface. "

Algorithmic Botany


Science Alberta Foundation

Science Alberta Foundation

"Science Alberta Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to increasing science literacy and awareness. We develop engaging resources that bring science to life for Albertans of all ages, in every corner of the province.
In 1989, Alberta oilman and entrepreneur Jim Gray shared his vision of an organization that would support scientific learning and help establish Alberta as a strong competitor in the global marketplace. More than 22,000 Albertans signed a petition to support his proposal, and in 1991, the provincial and federal governments joined hands with private industry to finance Science Alberta Foundation’s two-year pilot project.
Science Alberta Foundation collaborates with educators, parents, community leaders and scientists to develop programs, such as Science-In-A-Crate and Festivals of Science that showcase the importance science plays in our everyday lives.
Our programs motivate children, youth and families to embrace lifelong science and technology learning. We are helping to create tomorrow’s knowledge workers and instill an appreciation of science in a new generation of Albertans."

Life size whale - online


"The Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society has taken the progressive-image-tiles-through-Flash approach (a la Zoomify in Photoshop CS3) and done something most cool: presenting a life-sized whale online. I love the subtle touch of including aquatic schmutz that floats past the whale & viewer." - Posted by John Nack at 10:36 PM on March 29, 2007


When you click to look at the life-sized whale, a window pops up and you are looking directly at the whale's large eye...a little intimidating!

How Centropolis FX Creates Visual FX



Institute for Creative Technologies: center for virtual reality and computer simulation research

"a research institute of the University of Southern California located in Marina del Rey, California. Among ICT's goals are the advancement of the state-of-the-art in virtual reality and immersive environments, and the creation of the Experience Learning System (ELS) (which provides the ability to learn through active, as opposed to passive, systems). In addition to specific military training tasks, the ELS will have applications for a broad range of educational initiatives." - Wikipedia


Pirates of the Caribbean highlights

Davy Jones Part 1

Davy Jones Part 2

making of the 'maelstrom'

Spider-Man 3 Visual Effects Highlights

The SIGGRAPH 2007 Electronic Theater submission of Spider-Man 3

Using Hollywood movies to teach science?

Daryl Taylor's Hollywood Science
NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) WebNews Digest

Lights, Camera, Action: Hollywood Science

"Taylor, who teaches AP and honors physics at Williamstown High School in New Jersey, presented a session called Hollywood Science. The presentation showed teachers how they could use video clips from television shows, cartoons, and movies to introduce or enhance any science topic."

Madame Tutli Putli

Couple weeks ago I went to Sony ImageWorks to see the screening of "World Animation Tour." Among all the amazing short films, Madam Tutli Putli really blew my mind away. Take a look at the following links.


The technique they developed and achieved definitely changes the look of the stop-motion and further expands the boarder of stop-motion animation as an art form in history. The puppets are given new lives, in terms of realistic acting and surrealistic facial complexions. For acting there's a term called "half gesture," mentioned by the two directors in the interview (Could be found on youtube). For eerily surrealistic puppet effects, I will leave this for you to find out...it's quite interesting.

The DVD is now ready for purchase. Too bad that currently NFB only opens the portal to Canadian Citizens, and for US it is only for institutional/ academic purchase.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Car Crash Explosions

National Geographic Channel
Aired: Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Gravity. Velocity. Combustion. Resistance. A classic movie car chase offers a straight shot of cinematic adrenaline. But just how much scientific truth is there to these turbo-charged action fantasies? Climb into the driver's seat as leading filmmakers, stunt drivers and scientists examines the physics behind cinematic car chases to reveal what's possible or implausible, and exposes the elaborate tricks directors use to put us on the edge of our seat."

Hollywood Mythbusters??

Jonathan and Robert
Hollywood Science on the BBC

"Robert Llewellyn (Red Dwarf, Scrap Heap Challenge) and Dr Jonathan Hare (Rough Science) take on Hollywood Science, testing the science that filmgoers take for granted. Armed only with basic tools, our intrepid DIY duo put some of Hollywood’s most famous sequences to the test by recreating them - in Jonathan’s back garden... "


Hollywood Physics


(this is related to an earlier blog post called "Hollywood hurts students' understanding of science" and also references the blog mentioning Adam Weiner's new book Don't Try This at Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies)

Hollywood Physics
Take a look at a few of cinema's most mind-boggling moments of scientific inaccuracy—plus a few rare films that manage to get things (mostly) right

"As we reach the close of the summer blockbuster season, reports of a recent paper by two professors at the University of Central Florida recently caught our eye. In it, the physicists Costas Efthimiou and R.A. Llewellyn assert that movies are making their students dumber. ""Sure, people say everyone knows the movies are not real," says Efthimoiou, "but my experience is many of the students believe what they see on the screen.""
"Whether you believe them or not, it's always fun to take a scientist's eye to the silver screen to see just how ridiculous things can get when directors and screenwriters set poetic license against physical reality. High-school physics teacher Adam Weiner does just that in his great new book Don't Try This at Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies. Here, we take a look at a few of the worst offenders, and at the actual science behind them."

From the Popular Science Hollywood Physics link above, there is a slideshow at the bottom of the article discussing a few movies where hollywood got it wrong...and right

Slideshow mentions:
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
: The Fizzy Lifting Drinks
The Day After Tomorrow: deep freeze
Mission Impossible II: mid-air collision
Batman: grappling hook wrapped around a gargoyle, bringing Batman and Kim Basinger to an abrupt stop and saving them from a painful death
Armageddon: Nuclear warhead to blow apart an asteroid the size of Texas (among other things)
XXX: Vin Diesel outruns an avalanche
Speed: The bus jumps a 50 ft gap in a freeway
2001: A Space Odyssey: Artificial rotational gravity
Enemy of the State: Copper cancels out most electrical fields...keeping the NSA's prying eyes off Will Smith because of it's "imperviousness to radio frequencies"

The most frequent inaccuracy is sound in space.

"Don't Try This At Home"

Don't Try This at Home!: The Physics of Hollywood Movies by Adam Weiner
September 2007

"This fresh look at the basics of physics deconstructs, demystifies, and debunks popular Hollywood films through the scientific explanations of the action genres most dynamic and unforgettable scenes."

Sample movie sequence and related physics concepts:

In ""Speed,"" a city bus going over 50 mph jumps over a 50-foot chasm--successfully. An examination of force, acceleration, Newton''s Laws, impulse, momentum, and projectile motion follows.

About the Author
"Adam Weiner has been a teacher of physics and AP physics at the Bishop''s School, a highly academic college preparatory school in La Jolla, CA for the last 11 years. Prior to that he worked as a physics instructor at Green River Community College in Auburn, WA in a department very active in physics education research. In addition to an M.S. in Geophysics from The University of Hawaii, Adam has an M.F.A. in acting from SUNY-Binghamton, and along with teaching physics, has done some professional acting, and stand up comedy. In his spare time Adam is a competitive long distance runner, surfer, and avid reader."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sloan Science Cinematheque

"A website about films + filmmakers, science + scientists, Sloan Science Cinémathèque is a forum for short films, interviews, and articles that enhance the public understanding of science and technology."

Foundation grants as part of a program to influence the next generation of film makers to create more realistic and dramatic stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers through the visual media."

k-12 Science Visualization

source: International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
ACM SIGGRAPH 2002 conference abstracts and applications
San Antonio, Texas
SESSION: Educators program
Pages: 58 - 58
Year of Publication: 2002
click on image to view article


Integrating multimedia applications in the classroom can be overwhelming. Grants may address the cost of computer hardware, but where can instructors find the time to explore available software? Many visualization programs are free or low cost, but students will not grasp the importance of what they are viewing without proper conceptual introduction. Furthermore, many K-12 instructors are now expected to teach topics, including basic chemistry concepts, in which they may lack proper training.

The STArt! teaching Science Through Art program was developed to help teachers prepare for these educational challenges. Using an "Artist in Residence" format, workshops are developed in collaboration with participating teachers. Specifically, STArt! focuses on basic concepts addressed in the new California K-12 Science Content Standards. The program introduces molecular visualization software using narrative discussions, educational animation, and hands-on workshops using art materials and everyday objects. By exploring different learning modes, it makes basic science concepts more understandable to a broader audience. Furthermore, by collaborating with instructors within their classrooms, the program provides a creative resource for teachers in meeting the academic standards.

Is Visualization Really Necessary?

Source: International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
Proceedings of the 21st annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques
Pages: 499 - 500
Year of Publication: 1994
click on the images to read the article

Expose books

Expose books contain some of the finest samples of digital art both 2D and 3D published by Ballistic Media.

Here is the URL to take a look at low resolution Expose 5 book online:

Bats in Flight

Simulation and Visualization of Flow Around Bat Wings During Flight
article from 2004

Motion Capture used to capture the motion of a bat in flight.

Visualizing Science at The Ohio State University

Work from my alma mater's Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (accad)



While I attended OSU, I was a BFA student of the Art & Technology undergraduate program. Every quarter there are departmental exhibitions of current work.


I also spent a year studying Holography (diffraction gratings, transmission holograms, and reflection holograms), which is a lecture and lab physics/art course dealing with capturing 3 dimensional imagery on film with the use of a laser, mirrors, and a lot of stability (and patience) to put it simply.


Science on TV



Mr. Wizard


Bill Nye

The Blue Planet

Beakman's World

3-2-1- Contact

The Magic School Bus

Then of course there are all of the primetime shows that incorporate science and visual effects, such as the CSI series, Star Trek, X-Files, etc.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Science at SIGGRAPH 2007

A few films shown at the SIGGRAPH 2007 Animation Theater

27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Magic Fluid Control - Computer Graphics laboratory, ETH Zurich

Perceptive Pixel Multi-Touch Demo Reel - Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Capturing and Animating Occluded Cloth - University of Illinois

The Fallen Oak - School of Media Arts and Imaging

ToyShop - Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD)

Liquid Simulation on Lattice-Based Tetrahedral Meshes - University of California, Berkeley


Schoolhouse Rock!!

Okay, such a flashback!!!!

Interplanet Janet!!

The Body Machine

Greatest Show on Earth (Weather)


Learning by Seeing

Edutopia article

Online Graphical Dictionary

Solid Tools for Visualizing Science - article

Visualization Challenge
Figure 1

What Lies Behind Our Nose?

Kai-hung Fung,*

Other Visualizing Science Blogs

Ryan Wyatt blog



Hollywood hurts students' understanding of science


UCF physicist says Hollywood movies hurt student's understanding of science

"Movies such as Spiderman 2 and Speed generate excitement among audiences with their cool special effects. But they also defy the laws of physics, contributing to students’ ignorance about science."

Dumbing Down Science


"As we've discussed more times than I care to recall, the US educational system does not do a good job of producing scientifically-literate adults, and the media isn't a force for clarity in the sciences either. Two physicists from the University of Central Florida are now saying the combination of the two makes everything that much worse. They claim that as Hollywood mixes realistic special effects with the physically absurd, they're leaving a scientifically-illiterate public completely bewildered about what's actually possible here in the real world."

Hollywood Science book

Hollywood Science
Movies, Science, and the End of the World

by Sidney Perkowitz


Columbia University Press podcast interviewing Sidney Perkowitz about his book Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, and the End of the World


"Whether depicting humans battling aliens or a brave geologist saving lives as a volcano erupts, science-fiction films are an exciting visual and sensuous introduction to the workings of science and technology. These films explore a range of complex topics in vivid and accessible ways, from space travel and laser technology to genetic engineering, global warming, and the consequences of nuclear weaponry. Though actual scientific lab work might not be as exciting, science fiction is an engaging yet powerful way for a wide audience to explore some of the most pressing issues and ideas of our time."

Contents of the book:

Preface: A Personal Note
1. Looking for Science in the Movies? Check Out Science Fiction Films First
Part I. Dangers from Nature
2. Alien Encounters
3. Devastating Collisions
4. Our Violent Planet
Part II. Dangers from Ourselves
5. Atoms Unleashed
6. Genes and Germs Gone Bad
7. The Computers Take Over
Part III. The Good, the Bad, and the Real
8. Scientists as Heroes, Nerds, and Villains
9. Solid Science and Quantum Loopiness: Golden Eagles and Golden Turkeys
10. Hollywood Science vs. Real Science
Afterword: Finding Real Science in the Movies and Beyond
Appendix: Alongside Hollywood Science, There’s Popcorn Science
Further Reading and Viewing

"Movies are Fiction. Does it matter how they show Scientists?"

The portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind and other scientists in movies





"Peter Weingart, a professor at the University of Beilfeld (Germany), studies how scientists are portrayed in films -- fact and fiction. A central goal, he says, is to look at how "science is depicted as a 'strange' and 'extra-social' activity.""

"Movies also reflect headlines, says David Kirby, a postdoctoral researcher in science and technology studies at Cornell University. "Films incorporate a lot of the anxieties that are present in American society at the time they're made." In the 1950s, after James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, he adds, "people started talking about DNA and a lot of horror films picked up on this anxiety" with features on mutants, killer shrews and the Dr. Bizarro scientists who created them."

The film may confirm the preconception, says University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of journalism Sharon Dunwoody. Like other communications researchers, she tries to pin down how media affect beliefs. "When the original Jurassic Park came out," she says, "some scientists reacted with horror. spider trapped in amber, as seen on a film stripTheir perception was that the movie painted science as a force indifferent to social good; here's some guy who just wanted to have dinosaurs, without any thought to the larger social issues, he just does it. I saw it the minute it came out, I loved it, it made science seem exciting and creative. Wow! The idea that you could get dinosaur DNA out of insects entombed in amber, maybe it's not possible, but it's plausible; it made science seem like a fabulous adventure.""

Discover Magazine's 5 Best and Worst Science Based Movies of All Time

Article from 11.05.2007

The 5 Best and Worst Science Based Movies of All Time

Gattaca's good, The Core's crappy, and 8 more noteables

Picking the best and worst of anything will get you a lot of grief. So we applaud Sidney Perkowitz, an Emory University physics professor, for his courage in choosing the best and worst science-based movies of all time. Of course, we are outraged he didn’t include all our favorites among his top five. How could he leave out the wonderful Alec Guinness film The Man in the White Suit (about a chemist who invents a fabric that never gets dirty, never needs ironing, never wears out—and nearly causes a revolution because it is too perfect) Fortunately, Perkowitz does include The Day the Earth Stood Still (the film in which Patricia Neal delivers one of cinema’s most famous geek catchphrases: “Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!”). Here are Perkowitz’s top five picks (and his comments) for the best (he calls them Golden Eagles) and worst (Golden Turkeys) science-themed films. Check out his other choices in his new book, Hollywood Science: Movies, Science and the End of the World. —Jane Bosveld

The Best (Golden Eagles)

1 Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997). Set in the not-too-distant future, without overt preaching or much scientific exposition, Gattaca uses the youthful dreams of Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) to tell an affectingly human story about the consequences of putting too much faith into DNA, genetic destiny, and stereotypes.

Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition)
2 Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927). “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy builds girl” could be the tagline for this stunningly realized early futuristic film, as scientist C. A. Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) replaces the woman he loved with an erotic female robot. But Metropolis goes much deeper than it sounds, with audacious future projections of technology and its impact on society.

The Day the Earth Stood Still
On the Beach
3 A tie! The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951) and On the Beach (Stanley Kramer, 1959). Both films reflect the scientific and global realities of the cold war era. The Day the Earth Stood Still comments on the dangers of nuclear knowledge without corresponding human wisdom; On the Beach paints a despairing picture of a world destroyed through unbridled nuclear warfare.

A Beautiful Mind
4 A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2001). Apart from the cinematic qualities that won it four Academy Awards, this film pulls off the difficult feat of presenting abstract mathematics on-screen—the idea called the Nash equilibrium, which had won the film’s protagonist, John Nash (played by Russell Crowe), a Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994.

5 Contact (Robert Zemeckis, 1997). Jodie Foster believably evokes the psychology of a real scientist as rarely shown on screen when she plays Ellie Arroway, a dedicated radio astronomer. (However, not many actual scientists would bet their careers on the slim chance of finding advanced aliens.)

The Worst (Golden TURKEYs)

1 The Core (Jon Amiel, 2003). The Core’s characters include four physicists, a world-class computer hacker, and two astronauts, and the film got advice from some real scientific advisers. Nevertheless, it manages to impart record-setting amounts of scientific misinformation about basic physics (like elementary magnetism, electricity, and heat) in a mere 134 minutes.

2 What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, and Mark Vicente, 2004). Designed to resemble a documentary, this film works hard to convince us that quantum physics tells us we can change reality by our thoughts alone. This is good news for lead character Amanda (Marlee Matlin), but sadly, it’s not what quantum physicists say. Even one of the talking heads in this film was dismayed by how his comments were misconstrued. Of course, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a New Age classic.

3 Chain Reaction (Andrew Davis, 1996). Fusion power—the production of clean, near-limitless energy by smashing hydrogen nuclei together—is a difficult process that has yet to be achieved. The garbled science in this film makes fusion power even more problematic, and the beautiful but ineffectual physicist Dr. Lily Sinclair (Rachel Weisz) doesn’t exactly help the cause of women in science.

4 Volcano (Mick Jackson, 1997). When the San Andreas Fault hiccups, a volcano grows in the heart of Los Angeles, forcing emergency services chief Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones) and geologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) to save the city. But the San Andreas Fault can produce only earthquakes, not volcanoes, making a flood of lava on Wilshire Boulevard very unlikely.

5 The 6th Day (Roger Spottiswoode, 2000). This film offers action scenes for Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it makes some sharp comments about science versus religion. But its plot device—a cloning process that produces an identical, fully grown copy of an adult human in just a few hours—is so far off-base that you just can’t suspend enough disbelief.

Interactive Science

Here is a HUGE list of online interactive scientific exercises:



General Biology: Plant Kingdom

Human Body:

Examine the Earth:



Animated Educational Site:

I've gone through a few of the links and it contains animated movies to explain various topics related to Science, Math, Health, etc. Narrated by their animated duo Tim & Moby (a guy and a robot).

"BrainPOP is easy to use, safe and loved by teachers, parents and kids around the world. One of the best ways to get to know BrainPOP is to poke around for yourself! Explore the hundreds of BrainPOP, BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP en Espanol movies and activities for a few days and you'll discover the impact BrainPOP can have at school and at home."

This isn't a free site, though some of the movies are free and there is a free 5 day trial period so you can explore.

Science Fiction Film - Wikipedia


"Science fiction film is a film genre that uses speculative, science-based depictions of imaginary phenomena such as extra-terrestrial lifeforms, alien worlds, and time travel, often along with technological elements such as futuristic spacecraft, robots, or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to provide social commentary on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues, such as "what makes us human." In many cases, tropes derived from written science fiction may be used by filmmakers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to which written science fiction is traditionally held." - Wikipedia

Article: What's Wrong with this Picture?



What's Wrong with This Picture?

Educating via analyses of science in movies and TV

Sid Perkins

The arrival of a new ice age in a matter of weeks? Setting the Earth's core rotating with a few nuclear bombs? Fault zones that gape open to swallow people, speeding trains, and even small towns? "Get real," say earth scientists decrying the recent movies The Day after Tomorrow and The Core and the TV miniseries 10.5. For years, scientists have worried that inaccurate science on both big and small screens misinforms viewers who may not distinguish what's fiction and what's fact. However, some scientists see opportunities in even the most outlandish films and television shows. To dispel popular misconceptions about science, educators are teasing out shreds of scientific truth hidden within the fiction, and scientists are using unredeemably inaccurate scenes as ways to attract public attention to genuine scientific concepts.

Some scientists propose that more-accurate depictions of research and more-favorable portrayals of scientists in film and on TV may lead young people to study science. The boost in interest in forensics careers that has followed the hit TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and a few similar British series offers these science advocates hope that their scheme might just work.

A few Trailers

Osmosis Jones, with Tom Sito as the Animation Director
(2D, 3D, and Live Action)

The Core

An Inconvenient Truth

The Back to the Future trilogy

Gordon Research Conference


With the discussions of how science is shown in the entertainment world, how is it brought to the classroom? What steps are being made to make science classes more enjoyable or more understandable for those who are visual by nature? How many science classes consist of opening the textbook, looking at the bland images, reading a bunch of technical words and trying to figure out what it all means? Oh, there are the wonderfully bland filmstrips as well.

The Gordon Conference on "Visualization in Science and Education" provides a forum for the critical examination of the uses of visual images in the physical and biological sciences and in mathematics, of the tools used to create these images, and of their effectiveness in conveying scientific information to specialist and novice audiences. As such, the Conference is multidisciplinary, bringing together physical and biological scientists who use visualizations for research, science educators who create visualizations for classroom use and who test their effectiveness, graphics specialists who create visualizations to advance the frontiers of science and mathematics, and cognitive scientists whose understanding of human perception and cognition guides the research and educational application of visualizations and, in turn, is informed by the results of such applications."

Friday, November 16, 2007

okay, the quality is horrible, but you get the idea....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Photorealistic terrain rendering

Terragen – Leading in photorealistic terrain rendering

At the heart of Terragen software is a cutting-edge 3D renderer. It is capable of rendering surfaces with extreme procedural displacement and produces images and animations with production quality anti-aliasing and motion blur. Procedural, image-based or object-based shaders can build complex surfaces from simple objects, relying on the renderer's adaptive subdivision algorithms to dynamically adjust to extreme stretching and creasing.

The core technology in this software was used to render planets for Star Trek: Nemesis and then has been developed since then.

Here are some of the images that are done using this software:

For more information check out their website:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pixar RenderMan Studio

RenderMan Studio marks a significant step forward in the evolution of Pixar's tools for cg artists and studios. By integrating powerful, extensible components like Slim, Alfred, and “it” with the seamless workflow provided by the RenderMan for Maya plug-in, as well as support for procedural DSOs and RIB-out functionality, RenderMan Studio is a “best of both worlds” package, with quick-and-easy access to cutting edge features for artists' desktops and industrial-strength capabilities for complex pipelines and renderfarms.

The good news is that we have it here at USC DADA. And we're using it on Catalina project.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Undo function will be added to Massive or not?

I just received this response from Masive sales department regarding lack of “undo” function, one of the most valuable things in computer animation, in Massive:

“At this point there is not an undo command in Massive. This is a feature we have requested quite a lot”!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

USC DADA Seminar movies will be put on youtube

There is official USC YouTube site now and School of Cinematic Arts has its own section. USC DADA Seminar movies will be put on this website:


A Wave as a Character


This is an article that deals with creating and animating digital waves in Sony Pictures Animation's 3D animated feature film Surf's Up.

Monday, November 5, 2007

CGI and fashion!

Computer generated imagery (CGI) and Visual effects have entered fashion design as well. Look at these pictures which are mixture of CGI environment/robots and photography of real models.

It's actually a German studio that's doing this: Blutsbrueder
The images are of a series about the life of a personal robot. The time is the near future where personal robots are sold to do everyday business or switch into a romantic mode to entertain women!
CGI is done in 3ds Max and composed in Photoshop. I’m sure that they have worked a lot on these images in Photoshop and their 3D work is not really that fascinating if it was animated.