Seven BIM movies for Christmas: part 1

Movies about BIM: the Death Star attack briefing
The festive season is nearly upon us, so the big question at BIMplus towers is: what movies about BIM and digital construction can we binge-watch this Christmas?

With the help of a few film-friendly BIM types (step forward Neil Thompson and Henry Fenby-Taylor) and BIMplus colleagues, here’s a brief list of some ‘forthcoming attractions’. They will allow you to incept ideas of digital construction into your family’s and friends’ heads over the Christmas break.

Fair warning: there are spoilers ahead! Watch the clips at your discretion.

The original BIM movies. Without the daredevil efforts of Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor to find the plans of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker would never get to make that trench run.

The combination of Rogue One and the recent Andor TV series highlights that the Death Star is a typical mega-project: subject to significant delays and concerns about quality.

The Death Star plans are stored on a hard drive under a file name that only two people can understand and that can only be accessed using a tricky piece of handheld equipment. That’s an information management nightmare.

The huge human cost of the data transfer of the plans makes persuading an entire project team of digital Luddites to engage with a common data environment look easy.

The adversarial relationship between the Death Star’s architect and the client’s stakeholders (representing the Empire: Orson Krennic, Gran Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader and the Emperor – too many cooks definitely spoiling the broth here) means there’s no collaboration.

There’s also the suggestion that aside from the plans on the hard drive, the Empire has little or no engagement with any back-ups or live files. Unlike truculent droid R2D2, which does its best to highlight the benefits of smart buildings.

Even with a smart droid, the rebels fail to worry about cyber security upon escaping the Death Star. Consequently, they inadvertently provide the Empire with the precise location of the rebel base.

Thank the force then that young Skywalker makes the shot in the finale despite switching off his targeting computer – not something you should do when operating smart plant on site.

Find Rogue One and Star Wars: A New Hope on Disney+, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Chili GB.

2. Alien and Aliens

Where would the Alien films be without handheld location scanners?

The scene in which navigator Lambert attempts to alert Nostromo captain Dallas as to the location of the Xenomorph – which has squirrelled its way into the ship’s dark air ducts – is a masterclass in tension-building. However, the scene’s close-up of the scanner’s display screen – a blue grid with two blue dots – highlights the issue of 2D representations of 3D space.

It’s telling that scanner display technology barely evolves in the 57 intervening years between warrant officer Ripley detonating the Nostromo and her finding herself stuck with the worst bunch of marine grunts ever corralled into a squad (honourable exception to Corporal Hicks, obviously) on the hellscape of LV-426.

And thus history repeats itself with private Hudson’s reading of the display questioned by both Hicks and Ripley.

Hudson: “8m. 7m. 6m.”

Ripley: “That can’t be right. That’s inside the room.”

And then Ripley looks up at the ceiling…

At least the alien-infested colony base on LV-426 has a large interactive tabletop on which Ripley & co can drill into the base plans and work up their last stand against the Xenomorph menace.

It should be noted that in Alien, the instructions for the Nostromo’s self-destruct require Ripley to have command of another language: surely an asset management oversight?

Find Alien and Aliens on Disney+, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Chili GB.

3. Dredd

A taught, 90-minute essay about a smart city, Mega-City One, living under the constant threat of total societal collapse. 

The smart technology that governs the city is a double-edged sword. The Judges (of which Dredd is the greatest) must use that tech to have any chance of dealing with the 17,000-plus crimes reported daily. But the criminal kingpins often use that tech against the Judges.

For example, drug baron Ma-Ma Madrigal’s team find it relatively simple to hack their building’s management systems, locking the building down and trapping our two ‘heroic’ Judges in the 200-storey slum tower.

That said, quite detailed plans are available on every floor for residents and visitors to find their way around, so Dredd finds it quite easy to navigate the tower.

And just as Ma-Ma shows scant regard for the tower’s inhabitants’ safety, so the Judges simply haven’t heard of personal data privacy: whoever you are, wherever you are, the Judges can track you with drones.

Clearly Mega-City One has a very significant crime problem. But surely someone in the planning department raised some flags about tower blocks being fitted with blast shield doors that not only keep the outside out, but also keep the inside in?

The film, like its source material, reflects on many ills and while not attempting to adapt the classic Block Wars story lines from the comics, it does reflect on the many issues created by high-density housing.

Ultimately, in a classic case of villain’s hubris and RTFM, drug baron Ma-Ma fails to take account of her technology’s limitations: the signal strength of her bomb trigger.

Find Dredd on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Rakuten TV.

Mysterious aliens appear above every major city: hysteria ensues and meetings in the corridors of power are called. Consultant David Levinson, who gets extra points for being into both code and sustainability, identifies that we are heading for a disaster, but fails to make it to the project meeting on time due to traffic. Perhaps he should have invested in a Brompton or made do with a virtual call.

Attempts are made to communicate with the aliens using flashing lights, loud noises and missiles. Email might have been a better option.

The aliens turn out to be intergalactic architectural critics and begin destroying iconic buildings worldwide.

Beaten, our heroes regroup to Area 51, where it transpires some key personnel were aware of the aliens, but failed to communicate their existence to the rest of the team. The aliens have had the good sense to invest in exoskeletons, which look great and cut down on RSI.

Ultimately, the day is saved when Levinson (data specialist) teams up with Captain Steve Hiller (project/bomb delivery) and uses the aliens’ own tech against them. For all their advancement, the aliens are felled by weak cyber security.

The moral of the film: let your team members play to their strengths and keep up with your competitor’s tech!

Find Independence Day on Disney+, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and YouTube.

Read part two for our thoughts on The Shining, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, The Shawshank Redemption, plus some bonus content.

Authors: Justin Stanton, Neil Gerrard, Tom Peardon, Sam Ford, Will Mann and Stephen Quirke.

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