Plenty of bubble and froth as CSIRO creates virtual beer

Cheers all-round as agency seeks to commercialise software

The CSIRO has developed a 'virtual beer' using fluid special effects software it will showcase in San Diego this week at Siggraph 2007, the world's largest computer graphics conference.

The agency is showcasing its wares hoping to commercialise the software and be a part of the $US55 billion global computer animation industry.

CSIRO fluids researcher Dr Mahesh Prakash said the physics of bubble creation in carbonated drinks, like beer, is complex.

"As you pour beer into a glass, you see bubbles appearing on what are called nucleation sites, where the glass isn't quite smooth; the bubbles expand to a certain size then rise up in streams to the surface, where they bump into each other and form a raft of foam that floats on the top," he explained.

The CSIRO has captured the maths describing these processes in software that allows movie makers, film production houses and others to create super-realistic special effects.

The four-year project is being undertaken jointly by CSIRO and South Korea's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), one of the world's largest computer graphics developers for games, with most of the research being done in Melbourne.

Clever maths called smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) helps the software do its job by working smarter not harder.

The software uses less computer power and takes less time to get better results than other special effects software it has been benchmarked against.

CSIRO business and commercialisation manager, Andrew Dingjan said CSIRO and ETRI hope this will bring the fluid animation software within reach of smaller film production houses.

"Big Hollywood studios spend vast sums on single-use solutions when they make blockbusters like 'Poseidon' and 'The Perfect Storm' but we'd like our software to make realistic special effects easier to come by," Dingjan said.

The presentation, 'Bubbling and Frothing Liquids,' is part of a technical session on animating fluids at the San Diego Convention Center, which will be held later this week, August 9, 2007.

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