GSE told me about a behind-the-scenes documentary for the Chronicles of Narnia movie. I have not been able to find more information on the documentary (e.g., where and when it played and what it covered) and a quick Web search for information did not turn up anything, but my coworker mentioned a few interesting bits.
In the movie, there are many different types of creatures, all of which are designed with and entered into the movie’s computer system. Each creature-type was given parameters for behavior and movement. For hybrid creatures, such as centaurs (or ligers), the movie makers used the computer system to take parts from different types of creatures and combine them into the desired hybrid, bringing the parameters of those body parts with it.
A second interesting bit he shared is that battle scenes were created with artificial intelligence (AI). The production team placed the characters in the scene (e.g., 10 swordsman and 5 archers, some located here, others located there) and then used AI to conduct the battle. Each type of character has specific parameters that dictate general behavior, but each character’s actions differed due to chance and its interaction with its environment, including the other characters it fought. This saved the team time because they did not need to direct every character on the battlefield and it maintains a set of “reality” since each character follows a different path. This may be similar to some of the games, such as Age of Empires, although I am not sure (lack of familiarity with AoE and similar games).
Not that I am an expert on special effects or AI, but this represents a jump in (at least the implementation of) computer technology. The next (creative) step is to produce an entire film that’s governed by the computer system (i.e., without human input).
In discussing this with two coworkers (G. and M.), one noted that there would not be a plot. True, and I am not so sure this is a bad thing, especially for an experimental first go. The coworker who told me about the documentary suggested that parameters could be built into the environment that would require certain events or actions, such as a set number of massive battles (or, I mentioned, a love arc). That would guarantee some sort of plot. He also suggested that a human team could dub vocals over the computer-generated action to help develop and communicate the plot.