SyFlex in "Blank"

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All (final and work-in-progress) images courtesy of Rob O'Neill


Independent short film


Director: Rob O'Neill
Studio: Morphometric
Animator: Russ Wootton
Modelers: Munish Dabas, David Kim


Director of work-in-progress short film "Blank", Rob O'Neill, is planning on using SyFlex in his independent production quite a bit. A guest at our Tech Talk, he presented two SyFlex shots and discussed his SyFlex pipeline, plus plans for the different SyFlex uses in the film.


Rob O'Neill was a Character Technical Director at PDI/Dreamworks, before returning to NY to dedicate more of his time to his independent short film. "Blank" is the story of a 1950's superhero piecing together his memory and what it means to be a superhero.

At our SIGGRAPH 2005 Tech Talk, Rob presented two proof-of-concept shots and described how SyFlex is going to be incorporated into the pipeline.

The first shot presented was of one of the main characters (Hawkshaw) walking in his signature trench-coat. The coat was set-up for the test in under two hours, including pins to maintain cuff and collar contact with the underlying geometry. The entire coat was animated using collisions.

The second shot was of the main character (Paradigm) and it was made to test how fast it would be to create a cape. Turn around on this shot was under an hour leaving the animator with a lot on control over maintaining the silhouette of the cloth in shot composition.

Because of the small team involved in the film, a number of work-arounds to speed up time and accuracy are being considered. These included: using transparency maps for underlying surfaces that might penetrate, simulating on low-resolution geometry and displaying/rendering higher resolution geometry, and utilizing animated forces to get the look right through an animated scene instead of trying to create the perfect simulation setup for a character whose movement styles, being a super hero, can change drastically mid-shot.

In addition to all of the simulated clothing presented, future uses of SyFlex in the film include: small clothing items such as gloves and skirts as well as background characters clothing, and the possibility of using SyFlex for main character skin and muscle, and even hair simulation in some key shots.

Scripts written to facilitate using SyFlex in production as well as tutorials will be made available on the Syflex site. The first tutorial, "making a character cape", is already here.


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