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Mental Images honoured in Hollywood
German upstart delivers effects for Matrix sequels

Berlin (pte040/24.02.2003/16:10) - Mental Images GmbH in Berlin has surprised the industry by providing the effects for two of Hollywood's most anticipated films - the sequels to the futuristic blockbuster Matrix.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), based on these and other achievements in the film indsutry, the German special effects experts are to receive a technical achievement award for their "mental ray" technology from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills on 1 March.

In creating the effects for the film, Mental Images worked together with California visual effects studios, but much of the technology used was their own.

The mental ray rendering technique was first used in computer-assisted design for cars, but has recently attracted the attention of movie studios. the concept behind it is that it not only emulates light, but also simulates the way light bounces off a variety of surfaces. It takes into consideration the way a ray of light doesn't just illuminate an object once, but bounces several times off walls, floors and other surfaces to create several degrees of shadow, light and reflections. It computes what fraction of light will reach the object at different places, from different surfaces.

The German software is particularly good at creating life-like eyes and hair on animals, and its range of applications made it especially attractive to the makers of the Matrix sequels, "Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions".

Mental Ray CEO Rolf Herkin founded the company in 1986 while working on a PhD these on "Complexity Aspects of Quantum Gravity" at the Free University of Berlin, which he never finished. The company currently employs 30 people, most of them software developers.

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