Simulating the ‘Inception’ miniature fortress collapse

One of these things is not like the other.

The other day I stumbled across a video demo crafted by FX artist Yu Wu comparing a CG simulation he’d made of the fortress collapse in Inception with the film version, which was a model built and blown up by New Deal Studios and augmented with VFX by DNEG (then, Double Negative).

Wu, who has just completed his MFA degree in Savannah College of Art and Design, seemed to have done such a great job in matching the look and feel of part of that sequence with his simulations.


So I decided to ask him a little about it, and if he could share a behind the scenes pic from Houdini. Check out the simulation here, which includes a comparison of the shots, and the user interface screen capture below.

Wu says that this was his thesis project, comparing the CG simulations to the miniature effects. On a LinkedIn post where he shared the video, the artist noted, “for the RBD section, I tried to make the destruction to look similar to the original one. For the Pyro section, I want it to look more massive.”

He adds that “by comparing digital simulations with the traditional miniature effects, digital artists would have a better understanding of the advantages and limitation of CG simulations. Additionally, the techniques used by miniature artists can also inspire digital artists to create more complex and more dramatic visual effects.”

Houdini user interface for the fortress destruction simulation.

You can find out more about Yu Wu at his website.

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