6. 1 cinema thing: A really big shark
When you make a film that everyone will call "that big shark movie," it’s important that the shark be satisfyingly enormous. So the team behind a new film called The Meg brought on a software company that specializes in creatures to craft the megalodon.
Kaveh writes: Computer-generated imagery has been a staple of big-budget films for decades, but computer animation is expensive and time-consuming work. By contrast, the AI-powered system that created the megalodon makes it easy for animators to tweak the shark in ways small and large once a model has been created.
First, the bottom line: Great shark, awful plot. If you want to watch a good, thoughtful movie about the human condition, you’re looking in the wrong place. The Meg’s shark is cool, and the action scenes are fairly exciting, but the storyline is tired and the dialogue extremely canned.
On the other hand: Who ever went to a shark movie for the dialogue?
The details: After the film was shot, it became clear that the story was going to be changed, and that there would be a lot of back-and-forth with the director about the shark animations, said Mohsen Mousavi, the visual effects supervisor at Scanline, the company behind the movie’s effects.
- Scanline brought in Ziva, an animation company that specializes in creating virtual characters that move realistically. Its software uses AI to compile a creature model that can be animated quickly and automatically, with the help of some heavy compute power in the form of 2,500 Intel Xeon processors.
- Consulting anatomy books to understand the properties of a great white shark’s body, the animators created a skeleton and a muscle system, layered it with fat, and wrapped it in sharkskin.
- Ziva uses a physics engine that models how each of these elements' physical properties interact, so that animators don’t have to make its virtual muscles fire manually.
Go deeper: Read Kaveh's whole post.