It has been noted that crowds are an important feature in everyday living. Collectively, people assemble together in order to observe, protest, or celebrate various happening.
Since the 19th century, crowds have become one of the most important objects of scientific inquiry, as realistically speaking, they share a collective behavior within the environment where a certain event is taking place (Magnenat-Thalmann, 2001).
Nonetheless, crowd formation has been an imperative factor in the film industry. It plays a significant role in providing realistic approach for building large scenes that require numerous people in order to carry out the objective of stimulating the emotions of the audiences to make them feel as if such events are actually taking place.
Back then, in order to carry out large-scale production scenes such as battle sequences and stadium spectators, myriads of extras are commissioned. One of the many disadvantages of such commissioning is apparent in the amount of time and finances it consumes.
Realistically, two or three days of the scheduled production are wasted just to move the extras around the locations. At times, given directions are not followed by the extras most especially in terms of behaviors and reactions required in the set.
These are just some of the key issues faced by most of production teams. However, with the advent of a technology called “Multiple Agent Simulation System in Virtual Environment” or “Massive Software,” as it is popularly referred to, enhanced creativity as well as faster and efficient production can now be achieved.
Massive software is the fruition of the five years work of software developer and crowd specialist Stephen Regelous. The said technology is identified as a high-end computer simulation and visualization system that serves as the solution for generating massive yet realistic crowds, capable of performing reactions and behaviors. Instead of developing animated characters that are needed to be manipulated all throughout, Massive creates autonomous agents, which can be people, animals, or even non-human characters.
The use of fuzzy logic by Massive enables the agents to respond to their environment, and their reactions can simulate emotive qualities ranging from bravery to fear. As each agent is designed in accordance to arranged set up, massive agents are more unique and less robotic compared to other animated characters. In addition to this, Massive’s dynamic features also include smart stunts and cloth simulation which add up to the realistic environment created by Massive itself (Massive Software, 2009).
First used in the feature film “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Massive is considered as an invaluable technology that helped in shaping the epic battle in the said movie. Compared to traditional movie casting, the Lord of the Rings trilogy managed to deviate away from the customary commissioning of hundreds of actors in order to give life to some of the most intense sequences in the story through the use of Massive (Bares, 2005).
Additionally, Massive is not only a crowd tool but also a tool for choreography, allowing directors to have a qualitative edge on their films. On an actual shoot, directors continuously give instructions to actors together with the extras. With the vast number of people, the scene would not eventually work as is.
However, such is not the case with Massive. Through the said software, directors can move the camera as needed and at the same time put the agents with sophisticated behavior without necessarily repeating the scenes all over again (Bares, 2005).
Currently, Massive is being used in many productions, may it be feature films or commercials, due to its capability to produce photo-real crowd and intense cinematic quality scenes that were never possible before (Bares, 2005).
Massive is also being introduced to non-entertainment markets, specifically in fields that require strong visual effects such as engineering and architecture, as it is perceived as a transformative technology that could impact buildings and public space design, pedestrian planning, disaster prevention and recovery, consumer behavior research, environmental impacts, and other life sciences (Thomson Reuters, 2009).
In general, the introduction of Massive Software in the film industry is a premiere solution to the issue of crowd-related visual effects in both film and television. The said innovative technology marks a great change in the entertainment history as a whole because it deviates from the traditional commissioning of extras which are usually unmanageable and costly. Similarly, not only is Massive a solution to crowd effects, but it is also perceived as a useful tool in various fields, as it helps to produce a much more efficient and flexible outputs.