The White House has taken a real beating this summer at the movies. It saw no less than three takeovers by terrorists on the silver screen. First, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was attacked by Cobra in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Then the president and a lone U.S. Capitol Police officer had to fight a criminal mastermind in White House Down. And finally the White House got another pounding in the film Olympus Has Fallen, where, you guessed it; the White House has been taken over by terrorists.
If that wasn’t enough, the presidential mansion is now being ravaged by aliens on PCs and game consoles around the world in the recently released game title Saints Row IV™.
What do all these attacks have in common other than the White House?
Answer: Each one of these CG White House scenes used SpeedTree® to render the realistic vegetation around the iconic building. Yes, a huge part of what you see in these movies is CG, and the foliage is no exception.
In a recent article about White House Down VFX at CreativeCow.net, Ollie Rankin of Method Studios discussed the issue of matching the CG trees with the actual species that populate the grounds. Rankin commented . . .
“… In the case of the trees surrounding the White House, there are a number of iconic, recognizable trees. SpeedTree gave us a good starting point, and then we had to work very hard to match those trees as close as we could to the real ones.”
Arguably one of the most recognizable locations in the entire world, the landscape of the White House had to be as lifelike as the action around it. In fact, our tree modeling tools are so precise that the U.S. Secret Service has licensed SpeedTree for their own use.
In a small way, you could say that SpeedTree tools have helped prevent real White House attacks . . . while helping to create the fictional ones we see in movies and games. How’s that for irony!