Three Scales

PLANKTON: Shot 16.2.4


Rachel Potter, physical oceanography research staff at the School of Fisheries and Ocean sciences has been working on on satellite maps of Chlorophyll-A productivity in parts of the Arctic for use in the film. Nutrients coming out of the Mackenzie RIver (lower center) fuel plankton production in the Arctic. This in turn feeds the copepods which feeds in turn, the whales. The maps shown here are weekly averages of the satellite images from different points in the summer of 2012. Black areas in these images refer to areas where there is land, sea ice, or clouds. A subsequent series of images will differentiate between these features.

KRILL: Shot 8.1.1


We’ve made progress on our krill rig and animation, tucking the feeding legs up and speeding up the swimming legs significantly. One of the continuing tasks for this May is to take this little guy, multiply him thousands and tens of thousands of times and then set them all swarming cohesively. That is, they need to move as a group while behaving like individuals, swimming close together and yet not colliding with one-another, seeking goals and avoiding obstacles – obstacles like a phalanx of feeding whales. We will have something to show for these tests in the weeks to come.

WHALES: Shot 18.1.4

whale_sim_01 whale_sim_02

We’ve completed the first round of whale – water-surface interaction tests resulting in a fully rendered sequence of images where a whale surfaces briefly and then dives again. As we’ve observed before, the resulting action is far too dynamic, but we have let it ride for testing purposes, verifying the computers do not mind the near 10 million particles (water droplets) generated as splashes and foam by the simulator. Five seconds of this shot goes through the computer-pipeline and renders faster than a single macro shot of the krill character above. More importantly, we now know the simulator and subsequent hardware and photorealistic renderer should be able handle everything else we intend to throw at them.

Next time on this blog: pictures and thoughts from our trip to Barrow, Alaska.

– Roger Topp (UAMN Head of Production)


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