Inkheart Monster Powered by UBC Animation Research

Animation research by a University of British Columbia computer scientist is playing a key role in the new adventure film Inkheart, starring Brendan Fraser and Oscar-winning actor Helen Mirren, in theatres today.

Physics-based computer animation code developed by Asst. Prof. Robert Bridson helped generate The Shadow, a realistic-looking giant monster made of smoke and ash in an action-packed scene towards the film’s finale.

“One of the biggest challenges in creating realistic visual effects and animation is that people have an inherent sense of what looks right and what doesn’t – because we are so used to seeing the ‘correct version’ that reality provides every day,” says Bridson, who served as a simulation consultant for the film’s visual effects team, London-based Double Negative.

By incorporating the laws of physics into computer animation modules, Bridson’s research ensures everything from the mundane (Harry Potter’s cape flowing in the wind) to the fantastic (explosions and smoke in Hellboy II) follows the rules of nature and looks “normal.”

Bridson’s codes for simulating cloths have been used for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His smoke and fire simulation has been used for Quantum of Solace, the Dark Knight and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

For examples of Bridson’s simulation, visit

In addition to satisfying an increasing discerning movie-going audience, the research also enables filmmakers to create scenes more cheaply and safely – like the plane crash sequence in the Quantum of Solace – than staging multiple stunt performances. Bridson is sharing his code as open source material online.

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