The Science Behind Hollywood Explosions

How do filmmakers create a big explosion? Theodore Kim explains how his software creates the smoke effects seen in many Hollywood films.

Nobody blows things up like Hollywood. Now, with the help of a tool called Wavelet Turbulence, filmmakers can generate realistic swirling smoke and fiery explosions that are more detailed, easier to control and faster to create.

UC Santa Barbara researcher Theodore Kim and three collaborators developed the tool, which won an Academy Award in 2012. So far, Wavelet Turbulence has been used in a number of major Hollywood films — including Avatar, Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, and The Amazing Spider-Man.

The research highlighted in this video has been supported in part by the NSF CAREER award: IIS-1253948.

For more information about Wavelet Turblence:
Theodore Kim’s research website:


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