Paraglider in the clouds

Cloud reference, the hard way

Ah, storm clouds. So beautiful and exciting! If one of your characters is going to fly through a storm cloud, you’re going to need some cloud reference. And what better way to get it than to paraglide through the clouds? Before you sign up for classes, consider the story of Ewa Wiśnierska, a German paragliding champion who did […]

What is fire?

I recently discovered minutephysics, a YouTube channel with a lot of short, interesting perspectives on different physics concepts. Below is my favorite, called What is fire? There’s even a few tidbits in there that will help artists depict fire more realistically. In Physics for Animators, you can learn more about how to depict fire in […]

Types of Clouds

A cloud is a big fluffy thing made of water droplets, right? Well, yes, but there are around a dozen types of clouds, each with different characteristics. For example, a rain cloud can be a fluffy blob or a big sheet that extends across the sky, but a speckled cloud is made of ice and […]

Why do we have eyes?

Why do we have eyes? It might seem like a weird question. Maybe a better question is, why do we see at all, and why do we see colors and shapes? The evolution of our eyes holds the key to this question. Let’s take a step back and look at what “sight” actually is. What we […]

Does Spider-Man pass the physics test?

I’ve recently discovered a blogger that tackles the tough questions of movie physics. Rhett Allain is an Associate Professor of Physics at Southeastern Louisiana University and the author of the Wired magazine science blog Dot Physics. His blog covers many questions near and dear to the animator’s soul, at least when it comes to physics. […]

Hot air balloons in the sky

Why is the sky blue and not purple?

It’s a common question from children: “Why is the sky blue?” And why is the sky sometimes a striking red, or even pale yellow? The fact that a gigantic swath of near-nothingness can change color so dramatically has given rise to countless mythologies over the centuries. And now that we have science to tell us […]

Physics for Animators space exposure

Animating Death in Outer Space: What Really Happens?

After vicious hand-to-hand combat in the airlock, the hero shoves the villain out into the cold vacuum of space, where cosmic radiation immediately burns him to a crisp. Hurrah! Justice! While this makes for good cinema, it’s not entirely accurate. So what really happens if you’re ejected into outer space without a helmet or spacesuit? Knowing the […]

Binary Space Partition Tree Nodes and Leaves

What is a BSP Tree? Demystifying the Rendering Process

Many 3D modeling and rendering programs utilize a Binary Space Partition tree (BSP tree) to make rendering go faster. Sometimes these programs will even have customizable settings for the BSP tree. But it’s hard to customize a BSP tree when you don’t know what it is! Let’s demystify the BSP tree with a simple explanation, and […]

Huge man with huge muscles

The Physics of Human Scale

How much can a human body be scaled before the physics break down? This was the question a VFX artist asked me last night at the New Orleans VFX & 3D Animation Meetup. A quick answer comes from looking at the tallest and shortest people that have ever survived into adulthood. The world’s shortest living person is about two feet tall, […]

Test your Gravity IQ

CG Freelancer Magazine has partnered with Physics for Animators to bring you a Gravity IQ Quiz to test your essential knowledge of gravity as it’s used in animation. If you haven’t taken the quiz, you can do so here before reviewing the answers below. No peeking!       How did you do on the […]