Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Movies Software Technology

The Tech Behind Man of Steel's Metropolis 74

angry tapir writes "Much of the urban vistas of Man of Steel, Cars 2 and the horrible remake of Total Recall were not modelled by hand. Instead they relied on a product called CityEngine, which is more typically associated with local government bodies' urban planning and urban design. The software procedurally generates cities using scripts written in a Python-like language. The next version of CityEngine, coming out next month, will incorporate an SDK so third-party developers can use parameter-defined procedural generation of urban environments in their own applications. CityEngine's product manager talks about the upcoming version, how it's being used at the moment, and plans to incorporate augmented reality in it."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Tech Behind Man of Steel's Metropolis

Comments Filter:
  • Critic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @05:37AM (#44817281)

    I'm not much of a fan of the Total Recall remake myself, but is a thread's description the appropriate place for such opinion?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by netsentry ( 2733393 )

      I'm not much of a fan of the Total Recall remake myself, but is a thread's description the appropriate place for such opinion?


    • Agreed, the opinion was not worth adding it to the summary let alone the opening sentence.

      Personally I don't agree with the opinion: I didn't think it was spectacular, but I don't think it was horrible either. I just felt the original was better.

      But in any case, it's out of place. It would be one thing if the article was about the movie itself and how it was received poorly by critics or whatever... but it's an article about the tech used in a couple of scenes.

      It's like introducing your team to a client,

    • For what it's worth, I actually enjoyed the remake more than the original. It was closer to the book, and had decent acting and pacing. The original is great in a 'campy-old-school-meathead-actor' kind of way, and for nostalgia, but the actual acting and plot were pretty bad.

  • The future (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @05:41AM (#44817299)

    That's one step closer to only needing scriptwriters for making a movie.

    What's funny is trying to imagine whether one step after that there will still be movies or not.

    i.e.: Once AIs are advanced enough to create movies for us, will they want to watch movies?

    My vote goes for : "Yes. And the first big hit will be the movie about how they exterminated us."

    P.S.: The second big hit will be about a lone AI that learned to live in peace with the humans and to adapt to their strange ways. It will be called "Dances with cars".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You mean the turgid shit Hollywood churns out is produced by actual script writers who get paid and not accountants?
      Damn the slide into the new dark ages is further advanced than I thought.

    • This isn't great for the foreground bits. It makes great background filler, though. There have been a lot of pieces of software that generate background imagery like this - it would never be in-budget otherwise. Massive is used to generate large crowds of moving people/creatures (like Orcs in LOTR). Tsunami to generate realistic water (e.g. Titanic). Before this, you just couldn't get the complexity. Few movies, like Ben-Hur, would get the resources to have 100,000 extras just for the background of a

    • i'm pretty sure real writers who could think of a story were phased out. rehasing old ideas is the norm, and can be trivially done on a computer, Artificial Retelligence

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The software procedurally generates cities using scripts written in a Python-like language.

    Why not just use Python?

    • Re:Python (Score:5, Funny)

      by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @05:52AM (#44817335)

      They did the best they could after discovering that all the pythons had been used on that movie about a motherfucking plane.

    • Vendor lock-in. Using a standard language means you can easily take your scripts to a competing product.

    • Once you extend the language to add the functions they need, it would no longer be Python. It would be a Python-like language. I don't get it - it's not like you're going to port in a Python program and it's suddenly going to generate cities instead of whatever it used to do.

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      Why not just use Python?

      I assume it's because they wanted to use a language that wasn't total garbage to write their scripts?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    yep and with this technology they will continue to make the crappiest movies ever because like all CGI they throw away good acting and script design to focus on semi realistic city backdrops and fast paced unrealistic action.

    • fast paced unrealistic action??
      You do know it was a super hero film?
    • The avengers was a good example of both CGI done right (supporting the story but not trying to impress us since we know it isn't real) and done sneakily... (okay it turns out some scenes I thought were real were actually completely CGI.).

      Sometime over the last 5 years, the CGI has gotten so good that they can render humans convincingly for short periods (by mapping them down to the individual pore and nose hair level.)

  • by drkim ( 1559875 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @06:51AM (#44817525)

    Procedural city building like this was done back on the Peter Jackson "King Kong" back in 2005 by Joe Letteri.

    They called their system "CityBot - Urban Development System"
    Using this system they were able to create "...over 90,000 3D digital buildings..." out of "...22 million components..."

    Article by Chris White @ Weta Digital:
    http://staffwww.itn.liu.se/~andyn/courses/tncg08/sketches06/sketches/0147-white.pdf [itn.liu.se]

  • by gigaherz ( 2653757 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @07:09AM (#44817587)
    ... except this one also takes the chance to express a subjective opinion on a movie that I personally liked enough.
    • by Tom ( 822 )

      Maybe. Still I enjoy learning about how these things are used well.

      For example, I own a license to Terragen 2. But my own creations are far, far away from the stuff they make as movie backgrounds using the very same software. I love reading about it and watching images and vids, because it shows me just what is possible and gives me aspiration to improve my skills.

      City Engine is another thing that I've had on my radar for a long time. It's just way, way too expensive for a small indie developer.

      So, basicall

      • I got the Trial version of CityEngine for a Uni project a couple years ago. It was very crashy, almost unusable. Not sure if that was a problem with the trial or it also happened in the full version, though.
  • Instead they relied on a product called CityEngine, which is more typically associated with local government bodies' urban planning and urban design.

    You mean local governments don't actually think about their urban development, but just let it be generated by the computer? That would explain those impossible-to-navigate suburbs that make no [google.nl] sense [google.nl] at [google.nl] all [blogspot.nl]

    • If they were computer-generated, they'd make sense if the rules made sense. But when the laws don't make sense, even humans can't generate good output. And when the cities grow organically, you can give up on them having a logical overarching plan.

  • What would happen if we found a way to tie a Sim City engine to its output?

  • Tie its output to a skyscraper-sized 3D printer and let it go to town... or rather make the town.

  • According to a presentation I heard at SIGGRAPH this year.
  • by Gibgezr ( 2025238 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @10:52AM (#44819161)

    Been waiting for this for years. I want randomly generated levels for CoD-style FPS shooters. The levels might not akways be perfectly tuned for game flow etc., but that should be mitigated in large part because they would only be seen once i.e. people couldn't replay the maps endlessly and learn to exploit them.

    Would really liven up those games, and would put the emphasis more on deep game-play skills like exploration rather than shallow skills like map knowledge.

  • I just hired a bunch of Koreans to build me a city in Minecraft. By the end of day 1 I had something resembling Rome. So I guess Rome can be built in a day? However nothing works, making it much more like Detroit.

  • by Flere Imsaho ( 786612 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @06:42PM (#44824617)

    I was astonished watching the making-of reel for The Avengers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnQLjZSX7xM [youtube.com]. Almost all the city scenes were shot on green screen stages, with rendered city-scapes in the background. CGI is now so well done it's almost impossible to tell what's real and what's CG.

    The reviews for Gravity http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gravity_2013/ [rottentomatoes.com] make it sound like a tour de force of technical achievement. I'm looking forward to seeing it, and the making-of should be well worth a look, too.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982