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It seems that every time I see a movie with a character who either has the power of telekinesis or a force field of some sort that they almost always manifest it as a sphere or bubble of force. I'm thinking of Tetsuo from Akira, some recent Daleks, the daughter from the Invincibles, Sid in Looper, and many other instances.

Obviously it looks cool but why is it so often a sphere? Especially when a sphere is the most difficult thing to program in computer graphics.

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closed as not constructive by Beofett, phantom42, DVK, DampeS8N, dmckee Dec 24 '12 at 16:45

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Erm, why is a sphere the most difficult to program? The movement of water is particularly difficult. A sphere from a stationary object is a few notches lower. In fact, one doesn't have to re-invent the [3rd-dimensional] 'wheel' in algorithms for it. –  Solemnity Dec 24 '12 at 10:41
As far as I understand it it is harder to program a sphere because computer graphics shapes are built up from triangles and other flat shapes and thus it is difficult to create a sphere without using lots and lots of small flat shapes –  user11154 Dec 24 '12 at 11:07
That's technically true, but not very relevant. Rendering a computerized sphere is a solved problem, and isn't really a challenge to anyone doing CGI effects these days. This really isn't a factor in deciding whether an effect should be spherical or not. –  Avner Shahar-Kashtan Dec 24 '12 at 11:29
Okay but what about older movies that include the effect? and it still doesn't answer the main part of the question –  user11154 Dec 24 '12 at 11:41
This seems like more of an opinion question than one that can be answered with facts. –  Monty129 Dec 24 '12 at 13:48
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1 Answer 1

I wouldn't call it overused. In fact, I'd call it the most logical form, if that "power" is somehow contained outside the user's body.

A sphere is the perfect distribution of something in 3D space, cause everything is equally far away from the center (at max). Also it's a lot easier using fields to keep everything within a distance of x or destroy/deflect everything within a distance of x (which essentially creates a sphere).

This leaves the question: Which forms would you consider more realistic or underused depending on whatever is collected or amassed?

I agree, sometimes the "shooting glowing orbs" stuff is overused as-is, but I'd consider this "problem" in general and not be focused on the shape of these (i.e. usually spheres/orbs).

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A sphere is also the more efficient shape in term of area-to-volume ratio... Which means it allows a stronger barrier for a given quantity of energy and object (volume) to protect. –  Eureka Dec 24 '12 at 13:25
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