|Behind Enemy Lines... Project Magenta
Now... nothing surprises us anymore.
Trailer of the movie is out: http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox/behind_enemy_lines/ (QuickTime)
A scene of the film (from imdb.com)
contacted about making a glass cockpit for a military sim
is rare, but nothing new. We dedicate our work to
airliner software (Boeing and Airbus Type Glass Cockpit
and Flight Management Systems) and there is so much of it
still ahead of us that the answer can only be "not
for the time being".
Things do indeed change somewhat when it is a major Hollywood production company asking the same question. When Romek Delimata made that offer, it somehow couldn't be refused. He works with 20th Century Fox as an art director and is (amongst other things) responsible for building an F18 cockpit mockup for the movie.
The film is "Behind Enemy Lines" ( http://us.imdb.com/Title?0159273 ) starring Gene Hackman (The French Connection, Crimson Tide etc. etc.) and David Keith . It's about pilots being shot down over Bosnia. We don't really know much more about the story line, but we will find out in a cinema near us sometime this year.
Well, as Project Magenta we really have no thing in common with military stuff and also had to face the the challenge to make the graphics look as (ahem, it was the first impression which stuck) bad as the real thing. Remember, they used to send rockets to the moon with less computing power than the average mobile has today.
The tempestivity with which we received photo and video material of the real thing and the F18 simulator solved many problems before they even came up. A real instructor guided us through the various displays and their meaning making the development much simpler than expected. Do you know what the "BINGO" means on the fighter's engine display? It is the amount of fuel that is needed for the aircraft to return to the next friendly base.
Our task was to implement the PFD (artifical horizon), a map display which can also handle a background image of the area the aircraft is flying over, the simulation of the missile attack as well as the aforementioned engine page. Some photos of the real thing and screenshots of the software can be seen here.
Some things had to be kept in mind for the specific use of the software. For instance, when filming the sequences, we didn't want to bother those flying the aircraft with having to set up the exact position each time. The missile sequence is also parametrizable so they come from the same direction each and every time, with their own speed selection.
Having seen a number of poor displays in various films in the past (both aircraft and ATC), we hope that this small contribution does its real-life counterpart justice and that it won't upset movie-goers (if they notice it, that is). So far the comments from the Pacific Coast have been very positive, even from the instructor who saw the finished software.
We will not swerve into making military cockpit stuff now, we will keep on doing our airliner thing... we just thought it is an interesting piece of news, it surely is one we are proud about!
Soon more images of the cockpit mockup itself will be posted here.
The real thing...
Last Updated: November 08, 2004