"Galaxy Big Rip " for Skyworks Digital and National Geographic Television

A new theory of the end of time predicts that as the universe continues to expand it will eventually rip itself apart. As part of a National Geographic documentary, Skyworks Digital requested that Home Run Pictures animate a realistic looking galaxy that is ripped apart by the contineuing increase in the rate of acceleration as the universe expands. Technically, creating a 3D galaxy is difficult enough, but then being able to dynamically control the rip effect was an even bigger challenge.

A galaxy is made up of millions of stars with even more nebula and dust adding to the picture... and it was desired that the look of the galaxy be close in appearance to images the Hubble telescope is now capturing. So how do you get a photographic finished look while being able to dynamically control with simulated gravity forces all those millions of stars, nebula and dust? To accomplish this, Home Run Pictures created a spiral galaxy with thousands of "brush" strokes, each positioned by hand. Each brush stroke represented a splattering of stars , different colored nebula or dust containing at times another thousand elements.

Each brush stroke had its own translation, rotation and scaling pivot points... placed to allow the splattering of elements to be independantly controled and moved. Forces were simulated as accelerating translation, rotation or scaling forces, each growing faster and faster as the effect continued. The end result was the appearance of swirling forces ripping the spiral apart, just as the theory predicts will happen billions of years from now.

The effect was initially dynamically generated, but final changes had to be hand animated to achieve the look the producer wanted. As the big rip totally destroys the galaxy, individual stars begin to go super nova... random fractal and noise textures were used to simulate the final remaining stars exploding like a kettle full of popcorn. The animation sequence was rendered in HD.

Click here for Quicktime movie of the Galaxy Big Rip

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