Saturday, March 9, 2013

Math in Movies

I tried to take a picture of Toni deRose when he was giving a talk but it did not work. So here is a snapshot of him already afterwards when we all enjoyed some refreshments.On March 6th MoMath organized Math Encounters celebrated two year anniversary and for the very first time were hosted in MoMath own place. It was windy and cold outside, so while waiting for prompt 3:45pm opening of the door for the talk Math in Movies by Toni deRose we were let inside MoMath store. This was the first time I was lucky my visit to NYC coincided with Math Encounters, so I was as promptly there as was suggested by e-mail from the organizers. As it happens when things are set somewhere for the first time - prompt opening time was a little bit late and the talk started late. It had an advantage of catching-up with some people I hadn't seen for some time.
While I was thinking of writing about this event Tim Carmody already did - read it here.

Pixar's policy is to use only in-house stories, they do not accept stories from outside the studio. I found interesting Pixar's 22 rules of story telling. Number 9 on the list - When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next – is a great one and can apply to writers in all genres.

The road from the story to the film is four year's long and takes about 150 thousand sketches. Technology through the years has improved and actually these days anybody can make an animated movie using free software Blender. As Toni deRose said - we are just waiting when some kid will make a great movie, so we can hire him/her before we are put out of business.

Mostly the math behind the animations is coordinate geometry - positions of key points of movie characters are described by coordinates and then software just translates (addition, subtraction), scales (multiplication), rotates (trigonometry) these coordinates. More interesting math is used in designing the characters - animators use subdivision surfaces, which actually has developed themselves into interesting research field.

More about how Pixar studio is using math:
An Interview with Toni deRose in 2009 and this year in January before his invited address for Joint Math Meetings 2013.

Some of previous Math Encounters can be seen on YouTube:

Keith Devlin on Golden Ratio

Colin Wright on mathematics of juggling

Jeff Weeks on Shape of Space

Eric Demaine on Geometry of Origami

Carlo Sequin on topological sculptures

Some other  Math in Movies:



Math - Bunker Style

Good Will Hunting - math problem

The best list of Math in Movies is by Oliver Knill (Dept.of Mathematics, Harvard)

There was not much time (always not enough time in NYC!) to find some art exhibit connected with math but the one on my list was the exhibit in  Metropolitan Museum Cambodian Rattan: The Sculptures by Sopheap Pich. My favorite was Morning Glory in which can be seen pseudosphere continuing in ruffles. Since it is exhibit, visitors are not allowed to take pictures, so I could not take a picture to show it. More images of Sopheap Pich sculptures are on his webpage.


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