Calton Draught, Mecca, LoTR: Crowd Simulation

Ron Brinkmann, lead developer of Shake (Apple) and author of The Art and Science of Digital Compositing gave a talk in recent Etech Conference. They would like to build tools for the challenges in digital films, but then they found the tools are also useful for real world situations. Spectacles (you must remember the very big ad of Calton Draught), pedestrian simulation for public safty, like pilgrimage bridge crowd simulation in Mecca. Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson in “The wisdom of digital crowds: from Lord of the Rings to a bridge near Mecca".

Visual effects work draws from real-world research into all sorts of things: image processing, artificial intelligence, physics, and mathematical movement algorithms. But Apple’s Ron Brinkmann argues that the process is bidirectional, with tech developed for the visual effects world beginning to make its way into real-world scientific simulations—even in Mecca.

She ask good questions in the end of the article. If the movie/tools is earning a lot of money from entertainment industry, then maybe we don’t need any more practical usages to proof its legitimacy. That’s pragmatism. But we can always found truth indirectly via the glance of the ripple, or children’s innocent smiles. There’s an alterity also there we might really want to enjoy.