Comparing the sizes of fictional buildings from books, movies, TV, and video games

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/08/comparing-the-sizes-of-fiction.html

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Oblig:

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In fairness, realistic space battles would be pretty dull on screen. Tiny dots crawling across the screen until boom.

z90000000

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It’s interesting that the scale of the buildings doesn’t really match the scale of the work of fiction that they are from.

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I was hoping they’d zoom out at the end to show the City from Blame!, but I guess the manga/anime never describes any overall shape to represent.

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Do you mean in cultural significance or word count/run time?

What, no “fully operational Death Star”?

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Halo < some '70s disaster flick < Star Wars < Blade Runner < The Truman Show

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Tyrell corporation headquarters is 2.491 km? Where did they get that figure?

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Yeah, I was wondering where some of these numbers came from. Some are obviously given in supplementary materials, some can be inferred by looking at the size of human figures relative to a particular bit of the building and extrapolating, but I don’t see how the Tyrell building could be figured out either way.

The degree of accuracy given seems strange to me as well. There seems to be great certainty about buildings where the size is pure speculation, whereas the size of some video game buildings could be directly checked because there’s an actual, single model of a certain number of units in size (which are either meters/feet or are relative to a human being), yet their size has a large degree of uncertainty.

Douglas Adams made a good stab at describing it:

“Space is big . You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

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https://www.tboake.com/uncanny/gibson/bladerunner.htm has two references:

The result was a visually dense urban environment that not unlike Lang’s urban landscape the future Las Angles was also dominated by a modern corporate temple, the Tyrell Headquarters. The Tyrell Headquarters is monumental in scale with two huge buildings, the tallest being seven hundred stories tall, and six city blocks deep. Introduced in the first shot, a fly through, Los Angeles has become an industrial zone, the powerful imagery has huge towers spouting flames into the darkened sky, and beyond is the Tyrell Headquarters; two flat topped pyramids alive in the night sky with thousands of tiny sparkling lights.

Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a mile high tower known as the Illinois. It had 528 floors.

About 3 m per floor-- a 700 story building on the same scale would be 2100 m-- and some buildings have even taller stories.

On the other hand, that same source says.

[Syd Meed] “I took the two World Trade Towers in New York City and the New York street proportions as a today model and expanded everything vertically about two and half times. This inspired me to make the bases of the building sloping to cover about six city blocks. On the Premise that you would need move ground access to the buildings base.” (Neumann 152)

The WTC towers were 415 and 417 meters, so figure about a kilometer.

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Theres a separate video showing fictional spacecraft.

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That was interesting, thanks for sharing. I just spent an enjoyable 20 minutes down a Tv tropes wormhole :+1:

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Uh oh. Thanks for the warning.

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Cover me, Major; I’m going in…

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It’s MetaBallStudios. Not MetalBallStudios.

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Re: The Mile-High Illinois
I saw the original model and drawings of the Mile-High and the Living City (and a lot of other works by Wright) at an exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum1) and it was beautiful.

1) Always worth a visit, and the detour it might take.

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“I never MetaBall I didn’t like” - most dogs.

ETA: the math might get more interesting with the inclusion of Inception.

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What about Feersum Endjinn:
" Much of the story takes place within a giant, decaying megastructure known as the “Fastness” or “Serehfa” built to resemble a medieval castle, in which each “room” spans several kilometers horizontally and vertically, and the king’s palace occupies one room’s chandelier."

Did they include the Dyson sphere from TNG?

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So, this isn’t actually true. Video game structures are rarely modeled “actual size” because actual size doesn’t make for good gameplay. You need room for cameras, you have to compensate for odd fields of view created by monitor aspect ratios, physics engines need a lot of margin for error, etc. Typically you’ll have a lot of separate interior-space models, and you might have one large exterior-only model if there happens to be a fly-by of the structure in a cutscene or something. Even that latter model won’t be built to scale, though. It will be proportioned however the artist feels like for the effect they’re going for in the scene. Interior spaces are always way oversized (2-3x is common) because you need space to move and video game collision volumes are necessarily very coarse. We don’t simulate humans running around in rooms. We simulate giant inflatable sausages stumbling around drunkenly bumping into each other.

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