Here’s an interesting tidbit for Bond aficionados: One of the critical behind-the-scenes players in the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was simulation software from ANSYS.
A key prop used in the film was an outdoor floating stage situated on Europe’s Lake Constance that was designed for Austria’s Bregenz Festival. Every two years, a new stage is constructed for the festival’s open-air opera performances. Poised on the edge of the lake, the structure is 150 feet high by 100 feet wide and it features a representation of a human eye designed to serve as both a surrealistic backdrop and metaphor for the performance. The 30-foot-diameter eye was engineered to rotate and fold out via hydraulics so it would create a horizontal performance space, and the design called for the iris to function as a screen for special visual effects.
When constructing the floating stage initially, there was no opportunity for building prototypes or making design changes along the way so simulation played a big role, according to Gerhard Lener, the civil engineer in charge of the project. Since there was no leeway in terms of the festival’s opening date, the stage had to be designed correctly from the start to ensure the safety of the singers, the stage crew and the audience.
That’s where the ANSYS simulation software came in. It helped Lener’s team build the 450-ton stage for the initial festival. When it was decided the stage would be a filming location for the Quantum of Solace movie, 1.5 tons of additional lights had to be added. That’s where ANSYS simulation software had a recurring role, helping determine if and where the structure needed to be strengthened to safely accommodate the additional weight. The ANSYS simulation also helped ensure the stage could withstand environmental stresses such as wind and was instrumental in helping it survive the construction assembly process. According to Lener, one of the biggest challenges was providing the strength needed to safely move the eye while staying within the weight limits of the foundation. The materials used presented additional obstacles. The eye structure called for a composite construction that increased the complexity of the analysis since they needed to connect steel and wood together. Using the nonlinear capabilities of ANSYS, Lener was able to accurately predict the physics involved and make the appropriate structural analysis decisions. Should we be staying tuned for a sequel?