Monday, 7 October 2013

David Attenborough. Rise of the animals and the rise of simulation



I have always loved simulations for their ability to put concepts into the context that makes most sense. I am developing such respect for David Attenborough as I see his ability to take this relatively niche medium and bring it to the mainstream. Using it with his usual attention to detail.

The show fascinates me because it shows the progress of evolution and because I just love anything to do with nature. What makes it worth writing about is the use of 3d and simulation technology to immerse the viewer in the natural world as it was. This isn't new but the level of quality with which it was done shows the evolution of this tool and of the people using it. It shows how 3d, simulations and virtual worlds are being used to express biology in ever more realistic ways.

I prefer it when the story and concept is foremost and the tools used to convey the story disappear into the background. Something they have achieved in this series. A favourite scene of mine depicts a Tiktaalik vertebrate that is extinct as though it were alive and moving from water to land. The treat is that the whole landscape is so realistic despite being a virtual recreation. It literally would not be possible to re create this in real life. It is only possible in the virtual world yet, at least on screen, it appeared anything but virtual. 

My interest in 3d is also because I am learning the skills of producing virtual worlds and simulations using tools such as Unity3d. It is pioneers like David Attenborough who are my teachers because they are using these tools in the way I hope to. Their efforts make it easier for me to show others the value that simulation and similar tools offer.

Just like the simulation used in the hidden life of the cell it's such a rich way of expressing our knowledge.
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