Last week, we pondered
a distracting hobgoblin in an otherwiseexcellent-looking film. We wondered: Why are shivery puffs
They're not really, says John Clark, a visual effectssupervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks and instructor at The GnomonWorkshop . It just depends on how much time and money you have. Quick, cheapset-ups make for cheap-looking clouds as evidenced by any number of YouTube hobbyistvideos .
You can model cold-breath vapor particles in two dimensionsor three, but the best-looking results come with the latter. "Generally, the 2Dapproach doesn't look as realistic," Clark says. "The particles are notactually moving in a Z-direction, they're not moving towards the camera. Itlooks acceptable, but it's not necessarily moving in a real volumetric way." But3D models take more time to set up fluid simulator andthe refining process can be way more expensive and labor-intensive.particularly if you're using a sophisticated
Another challenge to making good-looking breath clouds is that(unlike ten-foot-tallaliens ) people have seen them plenty of times before. "You know how itmoves, and how the particles linger and how they disperse," Clark says. "It'svery easy for the eye to get distracted if it's not behaving exactly right."
In the case of TheSocial Network , the fog coming out of Jesse Eisenberg's and AndrewGarfield's mouths probably looks off because it's overdone. "If you observe real 'cold breath,'" Clarkwrote in an email to Brow Beat, "it is very transparent, almost invisible untilyou shine light through it, and does not form when people speak small wordsthat require only a tiny bit of air."
Meanwhile,unobtrusive, lifelike vapor breath is more common than you might think. Clarknotes that pretty much any film taking place in a consistently snowy locationis likely to have used the effect. If the movie was shot on a sound stage withfake snow, the breath is obviously going to be simulated. But even on locationshoots, weather conditions can shift as the day progressesthe actors' breathcould be visible in the morning and gone by noon, requiring the addition ofcomputer-generated puffs.
The Social Network
2011. All rights reserved.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union