If you're at all like me, you've probably noticed the conspicuous lack of scatological scenes in the latest blockbuster action flick or AAA video game. Why is big budget entertainment ignoring this natural and relatable part of life? All I'm saying is if taking a dump is good enough fodder for James Joyce, it's probably good enough for the latest Michael Bay film.
This got me thinking though—perhaps this lack of scat has less to do with directorial prudishness and more to do with how difficult it is to render excrement in CGI. In this case, we might expect excrement to make its big debut in forthcoming films thanks to a new CGI modeling algorithm developed at UCLA.
According to the authors of this new paper to be presented at the ACM SIGGRAPH conference this summer, this new technique is actually for realistically modeling CGI sand and water mixtures (but c'mon we know what this is really about).
Joking aside, the technical challenges involved in virtually modeling wet sand are ridiculously difficult. This has to do with huge number of discrete elements (that is, individual particles of sand) and how the interactions between each of these particles change when water is added into the mix. This requires a computer to do millions of calculations every second to calculate how the sand and water particles will interact with each other, and then millions more to actually render these calculations as convincing visual effects.
Although figuring out how to render both sand and water has been the topic of intense research for decades, comparatively little work was done on the two in tandem. This is what makes the latest UCLA paper such a big deal—based on the video above, they have managed to create an algorithm that realistically models the interaction of sand and water with unprecedented accuracy.
Whether this awesome development will be used for potty humor or the next Call of Duty remains to be seen—but as far as I'm concerned, why can't it be both?
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