Visual effects for film and animation often require simulated granular materials, such as sand, wheat, or dirt, to meet a director's needs. Simulating granular materials can be time consuming, in both computation and labor, as these particulate materials have complex behavior and an enormous amount of small-scale detail. Furthermore, a single cubic meter of granular material, where each grain is a cubic millimeter, would contain a billion granules, and simulating all such interacting granules would take an impractical amount of time for productions. This calls for a simplified model for granular materials that retains high surface detail and granular behavior yet requires significantly less computational time. Our proposed method simulates a minimal number of individual granules while retaining particulate detail on the surface by supporting surface particles with simplified interior granular models. We introduce a multi-state model where, depending on the material state of the interior granules, we replace interior granules with a simplified simulation model for the state they are in and automate the transitions between those states. The majority of simulation time can thus be focused on visible portions of the material, reducing the time spent on non-visible portions, while maintaining the appearance and behavior of the mass as a whole.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science



Date Submitted


Document Type





Granular simulation, simulation, optimization, fluid dynamics, rigid body dynamics, culling, frictional stress, artistic control, granule deposition, contact resolution