One of the most common effects in the animated feature film Quantum Quest are the trails that fall behind and twisted around all photon characters, including the hero character Dave (Figure 1). The quantity of shots that required this effect warranted the development of a trailing system. In photography, when an image is taken with moving light sources and a slow shutter speed (long exposure time), light trails occur. Several computer graphics techniques such as 3D motion blur or 2D image filters can be used to produce this effect. However in a stereoscopic feature film like this, traditional 2D image filters may break the illusion of depth. 3D motion blur can yield favorable results, but is limited in its ability to incorporate stylization and other surrealism animation effects. The trailing effect can also be produced by particle systems in commercial animation software but the design process is tedious and time-consuming.
SIGGRAPH ASIA '09 ACM SIGGRAPH ASIA 2009 Sketches Article No. 17