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Plus Advent Calendar Door #12: Maths on the big screen

Got your popcorn? Picked a good seat? Are you sitting comfortably? Then let the credits roll...

Maths goes to the movies
We have all marvelled at the incredibly life-like computer generated images in the movies. What most of us don't realise is that the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and the wonders of Lord of the Rings — particularly the star turn of Gollum — would not have been possible without mathematics.

It's all in the detail
The computer animation used in movies and games is now so lifelike, it is very hard to believe that you are actually watching a surface built from simple shapes of triangles. Phil Dench tells us how he uses mathematics to help bring these models to life.

Career interview: Visual effects director
Alexis Wajsbrot is a visual effects specialist who has worked on a number of high-profile films including Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, and also on some of those visually stunning commercials you see while waiting for your film to start. His speciality is anything that behaves like a fluid: water, smoke, fire, even fur or cloth. He told us how he uses maths to simulate nature on a computer.

Maths, madness and movies
Mathematicians have often been considered a little eccentric; Charles Darwin once defined a mathematician as "a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there." Now, in the age of film, movie makers seem to go one step further: mathematicians appear to be disturbed at best, displaying a kind of neuroses through numbers. Since here at Plus we firmly believe in our sanity, we're puzzled as to why.

Plus podcast: Maths in the movies
Maths has long been a theme in the movies. In this podcast we talk to Madeleine Shepherd, organiser of a maths film festival at the Edinburgh science festival, about how maths has been presented in the movies over the years, with particular reference to three more recent films, Cube, Pi and Flatland.

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