Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Laws of Physics in an Animation Universe

I chose to analyze the movie “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs “(2009)

A 3D animated film about a young aspiring inventor named Flint Lockwood who after several failed attempts at creating something worthwhile to help make the world a better place, finally gets his lucky break when he invents a machine that turns water into food, the town he lives in is now saved from its financial woes. Or… Is it?

The movie takes place in a small town called Swallow Falls which is located somewhere in the Atlantic. I presume the physics are based on those of this planet yet in this animation world several instances give it physical laws of its own. Imagine giant food falling from the sky. In this animated world it is possible, you are taken to a place where Spaghetti strands can form a tornado, where you can bounce around in a house made of jell-o and food can chase after you as you race past a food storm in a flying car. Many instances show a world where physics adheres to different rules than those to which we are accustomed. I will attempt to analyze some instances of inertia extremes, velocity and gravity as it applies to the animated film.

Inertia extremes
Newtons' first law suggests that an objects' velocity is constant whether it is still or moving until acted upon by another force.
In this film we see several examples of inertia taking place some of which were exaggerated for the purposes of entertainment. In one instance
 Flint is pulled by the food machine acting like a rocket .his body is pulled as he holds on to the machine, which is flying in a violent frenzy at high speeds. Flint is pulled along behind it crashing into objects that get destroyed during the impacts but flint is unharmed through all of this. He is flapping along reminding me of the movement of a flag when the wind is blowing. The next thing that happens is he is holding on to the chord and is on ground level where he is being pulled as if he was water skiing. The machine continues at high speed knocking some obstacles over in its path, yet, Flint is able to take brief control of his body. He even tries pulling on the machine with his feet pressing against the floor but none of this stops the machine from following its course. Its velocity is unchanged. Finally the ride ends when flint slams head on into a stop sign letting go of the chord and the machine flies upward into the sky. Instead of the stop sign reacting to the force at which it was impacted it simply remains static. Its velocity never changes.
Another instance happens during the spaghetti tornado, this tornado is formed by giant strands of spaghetti starting from the clouds and going inland as it gets bigger. It appears to start pretty much the same way an actual tornado in our world would start and is pulling out houses, buildings, cars as well as other animate and inanimate objects. The force is powerful and the objects being taken react to this force as if they were pieces of paper or some other light object. When flint is trying to get back to his laboratory he has to go through the unrelenting tornado. To us this would be a deadly force not worth risking our lives for, but for Flint it is a very necessary risk. The tornado is spewing out debris and oversized meatballs all over Swallow Falls, and Flint is running towards it dodging everything that is thrown at him. As he gets closer he is jumping on objects that are in mid air yet he continues to have a sense of weight. He pushes off of these flying objects as he gets closer to the eye of the tornado. Once he is inside he is weightless and is floating along as he continues towards his laboratory. I am limited in my knowledge of how tornados actually work but have been told that the safest place is in the eye of the tornado. There would be no force pulling anything up. It would be calm, but here, there are things flying about at a somewhat serene velocity. Somehow it is convincing enough to get the viewer to believe that this can actually happen. In the end of this scene, Flint is gently pushed along by the tornado regardless of how violent it seems and gets to his lab in one piece almost gracefully. That of course was purposefully done for the sake of comedic irony. I must add that this is also a good example for gravitational laws that differ from our own world.
During the flight to stop the food machine, Flint and His crew encounter many dangers, but what I was trying to understand was how did he maneuver his flying vehicle when there seems to be no elevator or rudder on the wings yet he can control where it goes by using the steering wheel. due to wind resistance, velocity, gravity and other factors a plane would need rudders and elevators on wings to steer it while in flight unless some other type of propulsion was used to counteract the effects these factors would bear on it. In this instance velocity appears to be the convincing element that persuades the viewer to believe that the vehicle is truly built for flying. As it picks up speed the wings catch wind beneath them and through normal steering Flint is able to lift off in his flying vehicle with a full crew inside.

 The speed at which objects move.
The human characters move at varying speeds to get from one place to another. Sometimes there are liberties taken in this animated world to get someone or something from point A to point B in a certain amount of time.
Although there are so many examples for this throughout the film I will limit my analysis to two occasions. One occasion is when the cop scolds Flint, He feels a tingling in his chest hairs and does high jumping somersaults over crowds of people almost effortlessly to get to Flint. While Flint runs towards an energy source to try out his food machine the cop appears suddenly out of nowhere. As He Speaks to Flint the cop does a variety of moves around him, a mixture of flips rolls and shuffles in quick succession revealing the speed of this character (not even Manny Pacquiao can move that fast around his opponent in the ring) he then catches a jaywalker by means of short quick steps toward the Jaywalker and a short leap to pounce on his target. The distance was not very far but in our world it would have taken longer for the cop to reach the jaywalker even allowing the jaywalker enough time to run away.
During the food storms you can notice the speed at which the food travels downward. Some food falls faster than other food. Sometimes I notice that although some food is larger in size than other food which I would conclude is a good reason for it to fall faster it actually looks as if it is going slower and when landing it does no more harm than a smaller portion would. One example is during the scene where Flint is with his father at a restaurant called “The Roofless” where steak is falling from the sky onto their plates. There are some steaks that fall and one of them breaks one of the tables. Another steak falls on Flints head but it does nothing to him. Obviously this was done for entertainments’ sake because a steak that size falling from high altitudes would be dangerous as it would fall at rapid speeds and there would be  at least some reaction to it falling on someone’s head ( at minimum an ouch being screamed).

In the animated world the laws of gravity seem to change according to the scene, they break away from the normal physics we see in our own world yet they work for the animated one.
When food gets out of control falling from the sky we see that it causes a great deal of mayhem amongst the community in Swallow Falls ,Pools of melted cheese and giant meatballs being hurled towards the town destroying anything that gets in their way, giant hot dogs and steaks and gargantuan pancakes destroying the school. Oh it is a beauty to behold. They fall at varying rates and speeds as some food seems to cause more destruction than other food. The density and weight of the food must depend on what it was intended to accomplish rather than on the laws of gravity. A scene where the town is covered in ice cream; the ice cream seems to be solid in one instance so much so that people are walking on it and sliding down hills of this sweet frozen goodness, yet in another instance when the food disposal machine picks up a giant scoop of ice cream, there are kids eagerly waiting on its bed where the ice cream will be loaded. It would seem that those kids would be flattened down into pancake like corpses but when the scoop of ice cream presses down on them they simply pop out of the top as if it had holes specifically made for them. Gravity in ice cream keeps people on top of it even when initially buried beneath it.  
In the gelatin house we see instances of hang time when they are jumping about, they are fairly similar to the hang time we can accomplish in this world although theirs stay slightly longer for added effect and they also seem to jump higher and faster. There appears to be solid footing in a house made of gelatin although it appears to act like a gelatin substance it is solid enough to act more like a huge edible jumpy house and the fact that a house of Jell-o that big can withstand the forces of gravity is intriguing. In one instance Flint is walking through the jell-o walls easily but the jell-o ground, although bouncy, is still very much in solid form. The pool changes density as in the example of when Sam Sparks the news reporter jumps into the jell-o pool and sinks in halfway where she gets stuck. When Flint attempts to jump into it he hits the surface hard and stays on the surface.
When the group attempts to stop the machine in the sky and are attacked by flying food I wonder when the food was given life to be capable of thinking for itself. The crew is attacked by slices of pizza who defy the laws of gravity to such an extreme that it would be considered madness to even consider this a possibility in this universe and yet animation limits continue to be pushed. They fly at them like missiles chasing after their target, no real reason to be hovering in the sky as they are, except, perhaps there is some sort of magnetic field strong enough to keep them suspended in mid air and this strong magnetic field would also be capable of granting life to these otherwise lifeless objects.


the laws governing the animated world do not necessarily apply to those of this world and several instances show an exaggeration of certain physical laws that would not be possible in our planet but which help the story move along and are still believable in a comedic way from an audiences perspective, these exaggerations were done purposely for entertainment and they work well Since it helps open up our imagination as we are immersed in this make believe world.

No comments:

Post a Comment