Formula for Disaster Download PDF
Explosions. Storms. Waves. CGI ace Jos Stam is creating a physics machine that can make special effects look absolutely, completely real.
Jos Stam is standing on a pearly white beach under a cloudless sky. He is visiting his parents, who are vacationing in Faro, a medieval town on Portugal’s Algarve coast. Stam, a 41-year-old computer scientist specializing in 3-D graphics, doesn’t look at the world the way the rest of us do. Reality is a binary riddle to be cracked, a series of fleeting images best appreciated after they’ve been rendered into 1s and 0s. Even here, watching the waves hit a beach in Portugal, his thoughts drift, as they always do, toward numbers. He begins scribbling in a small black notebook filled with mathematical interpretations of everything he sees.
Stam is a Nordic Goliath, a neck-craning 6’8″, with blond hair, pale green eyes, a deeply cleft chin, and hands the size of bear paws. He wrote the software behind many of the visual effects in modern Hollywood films—he is one of the few programmers to have won an Oscar—yet he’s all too aware that no software can re-create the aquatic spectacle before him. Computers can simulate simple fluid motion, but on their own they still can’t reproduce the complexity of a breaking wave. Continue reading