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Earlier this year a video of an eerily lifelike robot policing a dystopian landscape sparked Internet mayhem. Seventy thousand people tried to download the clip, crashing the Web site of the Vancouver-based visual-effects company The Embassy. We saw the clip before the crash and, duly impressed, asked Embassy artists to put their computer-generation magic to work envisioning aircraft of the future.

Neill Blomkamp (left) and Simon van de Lagemaat used LightWave 3D to give hyper-realistic form to the futuristic predictions of some of the most illustrious minds in aviation (see “7 Flights into the Future”). The Embassy specializes in creating animated computer graphics for television, movies, music videos and commercials. This was the group’s first assignment for a magazine, and one of the most photo-realistic they’ve tackled. A major challenge was imparting naturalistic touches, hand-painted in Photoshop, to images rendered at high resolution (600 dpi). Says van de Lagemaat, “Even planes that look shiny, if you look at them closely, have scratches, oil, dirt on them. It has to look real.”

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