Enter the maze

The scene machines: check out a video on computers in Hollywood

a film reel

How do special effects designers make stuff in 3D? Could you reconstruct a whole 3D scene just from a photo? And by the way, could James Bond’s Vanquish really vanish in real life? The answers are lurking on a YouTube video.

Filmmakers from the University of California in San Diego have made a new DVD explaining computer vision. What’s more, they’ve chosen to look at it through that most Californian of subjects, Hollywood film. A sample chapter covering 3D effects is already up on YouTube, so you can get a sneaky look at all the computer science secrets from Die Another Day, The Italian Job and Enemy of the State.

It’s done as a series of interviews with computer scientists, who explain the real science behind scenes from the blockbusters. The scientists do a good job explaining it all in an interesting way, and the film mostly avoids that spoilsport trap of just pointing out the bits that would never actually happen. There’s a surprising bit where the real science is actually ahead of the cool effects on screen.

So if you’re interested in computer graphics or special effects, or if you just like a good action film, this featurette’s worth a look. We've put a link below.