Prof. James F. O’Brien

Miscellaneous Stuff


Physics Engine for Deformation and Destruction

I’ve been working with a startup company, Pixelux Entertainment, on developing a simulation engine for modeling fracture, deformation, and destruction in film and video games.  The simulation engine is being sold under the name DMM and it was used in the LucasArts game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and well over 100 feature films.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (a.k.a. TFU) was released on several game platforms including the PS3, XBox 360, and Wii.  They all share a common plot  but the game code was adapted to match the capabilities of the individual platforms.  The PS3 and XBox 360 versions include DMM simulations for wooden structures, metal blast doors, stone buildings, and many other things.  At this time TFU is the top selling game ever put out by LucasArts with over 5.7 million copies sold.  According to feedback from players, the destructible environment was one of the game’s best features.

The DMM destruction engine is available as a plugin for Maya for doing film effects.  DMM has also been integrated into both MPC’s and Sony Pictures Imageworks’s production pipelines.  The list of film, commercials, and television shows using DMM is too long to include here and it’s growing rapidly.  The Wikipedia page on DMM has a list, but it needs to be updated.

In 2015, Ben Cole, Eric Parker, and myself were recognized with The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement ( A Sci-Tech Oscar ).

To Ben Cole for the design of the Kali Destruction System, to Eric Parker for the development of the Digital Molecular Matter toolkit, and to James O’Brien for his influential research on the finite element methods that served as a foundation for these tools.

The combined innovations in Kali and DMM provide artists with an intuitive, art-directable system for the creation of scalable and realistic fracture and deformation simulations. These tools established finite element methods as a new reference point for believable on-screen destruction.


Cloth Simulation for Virtual Sampling and Virtual Try On

From 2014 to 2019 I was Chief Scientist at Avametric where I oversaw the development of a system for simulating the fit of garments on human bodies.  The system was used for creating virtual fitting rooms with brand partners including Gap, Old Navy, and Ann Taylor.  In 2018 Avametric was acquired by Gerber Technology and Avametric’s simulation engine is now an integral part of their industry-leading pattern design software package, AccuMark. There is a very good chance that you’re currently wearing at least one garment designed using AccuMark.