When it comes to creating amazing destruction effects for film and television you can bet time, money and realism are traditionally the biggest concerns for the visual effects industry. Current methods of creating destruction effects can often be time consuming, costly and sometimes just don’t add up.
- Quick Cuts: A helicopter is about to crash into a building, as it begins to descend towards the structure, the camera cuts to a person screaming while we hear a loud crash and explosion. When the camera returns to its original position we see the remnants of the huge fireball settles to reveal the building and helicopter are already in ruins.
- Actual Demolition: Film makers can sometimes, if they’re lucky, find an actual building that is scheduled to be demolished with explosives. In this case the film makers will work with the demolition contractor and a special effects company to add gasoline, fireworks or other incendiaries to create the visuals they desire.
- Miniatures: Building a scaled down version of an entire scene and physically destroying the model by whatever means required by the scene. While the model is being destroyed, it is filmed with high speed cameras from several angles.
- FEM Simulation: There are several different FEM solutions for animators and visual effects artists to create destruction effects. FEM definitely has its place in simulating things like cloth, liquids and rubber; items that typically don’t separate or are separate particles from the beginning. But when it comes to destruction this is not the case as none of these have the ability to auto-fracture. This leaves the quality of the effect dependent on the time and money that is available to be spent perfecting the movement of the scene by animators.
While there are many challenges to simulating destruction effects utilizing the Applied Element Method (AEM) can solve many of them. Because AEM allows for the automatic separation of elements based on the element’s material properties, much of the risk and guesswork is taken out of the simulation. Objects do not need to be pre-broken and glued back together. Rather, a scene can be effortlessly destroyed by letting the AEM solver initiate and track cracks through separation and secondary collision. The video below demonstrates the power of AEM: