FX Civil – The Grand Theft Auto Series

I have always been fascinated by the incredible visual effects in blockbuster movies and video games. FX Civil is where I break down a movie or video game that implemented civil engineering and architecture in a believable and incredible way. I hope that I can learn from case studies of amazing special effects such as these but, let’s be honest, these types of visuals are just awesome and should be appreciated. While Civil FX is the art of approaching special effects from a civil engineering point of view, FX Civil is where we approach civil engineering from a special effects point of view.

I have hesitations on placing anything Grand Theft Auto on this website. I personally don’t stand for many of the themes that the series glamorizes including murder, theft, prostitution, abuse, language… and so on.

But seriously, how great do these games look?

Now on the 5th installment of the series, GTA has continually pushed the boundaries of what is possible in open-world gaming and graphics for nearly two decades. The sprawling, expansive worlds created in the most recent versions are especially impressive and gorgeous.


I don’t know how accurate the civil engineering features are from an engineering standpoint. I don’t know if the bridge depth is realistic or if the highway signs were designed with the MUTCD in mind. I do know, however, that it all feels real, and that’s kind of the point.

Rockstar games has taken special care to use detailed texturing to make both urban and rural scenes feel not only real but organic as well. The ‘clean’ look that myself and others typically achieve with infrastructure modeling and rendering is absent and helps bridge whatever uncanny valley type affects exist with inanimate objects. Bridges, roads, drainage features, concrete textures and city scapes are all incredible.


I hope that the look that GTA has achieved is realistically within the scope of 3D visualization studios such as my own within the next several years. The divide, obviously is a budget of millions compared to budgets of thousands. However, as tools get better and costs continue to go down, don’t be surprised if Civil FX Studios produces videos with the same organic and real feel that GTA is currently achieving. This is the look I am working towards because it is almost the same look I see when I look out of my windshield except it has been created using computers.

Now go ahead and search for some YouTube videos and watch them on mute and make sure the kiddos and the boss aren’t around. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!