SyFlex in Elektra
Images and clips courtesy of Pixel Magic and Picture Mill.
'ELEKTRA' ©2005 Twentieth Century Fox, Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. and Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc.
All rights reserved.
Special effects and title sequence for a feature film
Visual Effects Supervisor: Raymond Mcintyre Jr.
Visual Effects Producer: George Macri
CG Supervisor: Micheal Hardison
CG Artists: David Behar, Clay Dale, Jason Hill, Andrew Romine, Paul Davies,
Christopher Gwynne, Neal Sopata, Juan Carlos Vargas, Kevin Kipper, Kevin
Compositors: Patrick Flanagan, Brad Moylan, James David Hattin, James Gorman, Richard Kratt,
Nate Haggard, John R. Mcconnell, Geordie Spradling
Title sequence: Picture Mill
Pixel Magic relied on SyFlex in the production of special effects for 24 shots in the movie
Elektra, where sheets have their own powers (you can see more details also on the
Pixel Magic site).
This inspired Picture Mill to use the cloth motif in the title sequence, and they got SyFlex to do the job.
Originally slated with eleven shots involving cloth simulation, the number of shots Pixel
Magic was asked to create grew until it ended up at a steady twenty-four shots in two
scenes. CG Supervisor Mike Hardison
described to us the scenes and told us a bit about how syFlex was used:
"In the first scene, Elektra enters a room full of sheet-draped furniture. Through the
power of Kirigi, one of Elektra's enemies, the sheets leap off the furniture and into the air where they
swirl about the room in an effort to confuse and destroy Elektra's concentration. Elektra must then fight
her way through the chaos of sheets while defending herself from Kirigi's attacks. The sequence was shot
with only a few real sheets visible to the camera. The rest of the sheets had to be created in 3D. We determined
early on that syFlex was our best solution for the sheets."
"The second scene is a flashback sequence where Elektra's mother being symbolically "buried"
under a white sheet. The director wanted the sheet to fall in a very particular way. So the
production crew decided not to shoot a sheet at all and have it done as a CG shot. Chris Gwynne,
the simulation artist, managed to get there in far less time than we imagined. It was a lot easier to
tweak the cloth simulation with SyFlex's tools and get it to do exactly what the director wanted."
"Even though the sheets were simply square shaped, the movements demanded of them were not
so simple. Each sheet had to have a certain characteristic and maintain an ethereal degree of energy.
At specific times, the sheets had to leap in the air or dive down towards Elektra and curl around her.
Despite their planned choreography, all of the movement of the sheets still needed to reflect the properties
of our practical cloth. SyFlex gave us the ability to manipulate the sheets while maintaining the simulation
properties of cloth. Plus, syFlex gave us the tools to do this in a short amount of time, a critical requirement
in today's postproduction reality."
"Several of the shots had their unique challenges in terms of cloth dynamics and simulation.
In one shot, sheets stack up on Kirigi as he jumps over Elektra. We were a bit concerned
about this shot at first, but SyFlex surprised us by giving us great results in a short amount of time.
With syFlex 3's new features, like the new spring weight tools, we were able to get the sheets to flow the
way we wanted without tearing up the simulation. We also relied on cache blending to blend different libraries
of sheets together. This gave us the ability to alter the look of our sheets without computing a completely new simulation."
"This was not the first time we've used syFlex and it will certainly not be the last. Our
first project we used it on was with the movie Exorcist: The Beginning, involving a CG stuntdouble fully clothed.
Its performance then made it become an integral tool in our arsenal. We will, without a doubt, utilize syFlex in future projects."