Innocent automobile drivers out for their Sunday drive in London in the fall of 2013 may have felt the noticeable increase in temperature, the sudden blinding windshield glare and continued motoring down Eastcheap Street with little more than an automatic brief adjustment of the climate control. If they were to stop and peer upward through their sunroofs, a reflection as bright as the day was beaming from the skyscraper affectionately known as the Walkie Talkie.

This was no reflection, good natured citizens of the world; this was a death ray emitted by the evil skyscraper now known as FRYSCRAPER. 

The evil villain-building set its sights on an innocent Jaguar and switched the death ray to melt. Various parts of the automobile instantly began melting. To the uninquisitive eye seeing a melted Jaguar on the street might look like a case of “they don’t make’em like they used to.” Well we can’t speak for Jaguar’s electrical systems but this was no electrical malfunction on this particular day.


Just for fun, NVIDIA recreated the FRYSCRAPER’s hood ornament-melting fury in Autodesk’s 3ds Max to demo their Iray rendering solution at the recent GPU Technology Conference. They built a digital city of London, added materials to the FRYSCRAPER and watched in horror as it produced a bright reflection ready to fry any innocent digital Jaguar that dared to park on digital Eastcheap Street. Since Iray is truly a physically-based rendering engine, it simulated the physical effects of the sun at different times of day reproducing the FRYSCRAPER phenomenon with ease.


Physically-based rendering engines like NVIDIA’s IRAY are getting very real; these tools are thought of as more than just pretty picture-generators these days. With realistic lighting and true-to-life materials, our rendering tools are more like real world simulators perfect for evaluating designs pre-production. And like any good tool worth its weight in gold, they can be used for both good or evil.


“NVIDIA is putting these tools within reach of every designer with plug-ins that will build this capability into the most popular design tools,” said the company during their presentation.


While FRYSCRAPER’s death ray were unintentional, their purpose was to highlight how future death rays may be avoided by first building simulations in tools like these. Current real-world examples include London’s NBBJ, who are using simulations like these to create shadowless skyscrapers. 

It is said that before the renovations, FRYSCRAPER’s reflections were hot enough to fry eggs. In the future, maybe the power of these so-called “death rays” could be harnessed for good – such as focusing the rays on public grills during lunch hours for solar barbecues and corporate marshmallow toasting sing-a-long sessions.