The End of the Procedurally Generated 3D Simulation of Los Angeles

Last night I watched John Cusack and his kids fight the end of the world. No, I’m not talking about the straight-to-DVD sequel to Sixteen Candles (though that would probably be an awesome movie, too.) I’m talking about last year’s special effects laden film 2012, which surprisingly has been gracing the Netflix instant streaming list for a few months now.

Until last night I hadn’t seen 2012, which ended up being, at least for me, a surprisingly fun action/disaster movie in the vein of Independence Day (one of my  favorites.) The star of the show, obviously, were the special effects, with entire land-masses shifting around and huge chunks of the city of Los Angeles falling into the ocean. It is a little bit hilarious that I counted no less than three unique “close call airplane takeoff” sequences; something that is way overdone in movies in general, but the fact that they so blatantly overused it within this one film made me suspect that there was a little bit of inside baseball going on in the writer’s room.

From what I have read, 2012′s visual effects were mostly done in 3DS Max, making liberal use of thinking particles and a plugin called Cebas that helps create simulations of the destruction of buildings. Here’s Dennis Muren of Industrial Light and Magic, talking about special effects, and the FX Industry in general.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/video/conference/2007/muren

Its always amazing what can be done in CG these days, with even rudimentary 3D software and one or two dedicated animators. At DDA, we have been pushing our 3D capabilities forward for over a decade. Today, DDA works on creating realistic 3D environments with composited video or photographs of actors, fully rendered 3D medical simulations, medical training tools that utilize 3D graphics, virtual reality using 3D and CG environments, brochures that contain 3D and hand-illustrated graphics, and much, much more! What will we be doing by 2012? Well provided the US doesn’t fall into the ocean (help us, John Cusack!) we could very well be working on some awesome 3D for your corporate or medical organization!