PerspectiveComputer Science

Computational Physics in Film

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Science  24 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6012, pp. 1756-1757
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198769

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Computer simulation of solid and fluid dynamics underlies many visual effects seen in films produced during the past decade. This approach not only is less expensive than filming live action but also can avoid putting actors and crews in dangerous settings and can allow visualization of the impossible. Compared with more traditional animation methods that rely chiefly on artists' efforts, numerical solutions to the equations of physics allow computers to calculate realistic motion, such of that of smoke, fire, explosions, water, rubble, clothing, hair, muscles, and skin. Algorithmic advances now afford artists a higher-level, more efficient role in guiding the physics as they produce animation. We provide an overview here of current challenges in physics-based animation.