Computer-generated special effects in the movies "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" will earn a Stanford computer professor and two colleagues an Academy Award on Feb. 9.
Ron Fedkiw of Stanford and two Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) scientists, Nick Rasmussen and Frank Losasso Petterson, developed a method of realistically simulating water and other fluids in motion. Petterson is a former student of Fedkiw's at Stanford.
When a pirate skeleton was drinking wine in "Pirates" and when the ship was sinking in "Poseidon," the images were generated by a system that the three men developed.
Rasmussen and Petterson work at ILM, the Marin County special effects lab started by George Lucas of "Star Wars" fame.
"George Lucas made 'Star Wars' and, well, that changed the world for a lot of us," Fedkiw said. "It's amazing what a movie can do for civilization. I can only be grateful that he made three more of them and that I started working with ILM just in time to get a screen credit on the last one."
The system developed by the three computer scientists to simulate fluids in motion was also used in "Evan Almighty" and was begun when they developed a system for the female liquid terminator in "Terminator 3."
Fedkiw has been invited to attend the Scientific and Technical Academy Awards presentation Feb. 9 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.
"After wearing sandals for the last two years -- even in the Lake Tahoe snow -- it's going to be tough to go black tie," he said.
For more information, visit http://physbam.stanford.edu/~fedkiw/ .