Syflex in student work "Renaissance"

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Images and clips courtesy of ESMA.


Short film


Design and production: Arnaud Meilhon , Alexandre Marie , Guillaume Floret, John Martin.
School: Ecole Superieure des Metiers Artistiques


Four students used SyFlex quite a bit in the creation of their first short film called "Renaissance" (No connection with the upcoming French feature!). The film follows a young boy as he goes back to past memories, until he finally chooses to look to the future. The kid is walking in a desert wearing layers of clothing... SyFlex is used in most of the shots.


we spoke with John Martin who shared with us a bit more details about the work:

Syflex: Please tell us a little bit about this project...

John: We start working on the film in summer 2004, it began with a dream one of us had and a single drawing of a sad boy hugging a sand statue of a woman destroyed by the wind. The film is still in production, we already have the soundtrack and most of the animation, and we are doing now the special effects and final rendering.

Syflex: Who did the SyFlex work?

John: The four of us share all the responsibilities, so each of us got the chance to work with SyFlex... Our goal is to push this movie as far as our technical abilities can reach, so we do realistic rendering, cloth and hair simulation, particles dynamics, etc. We encountered a lot of technical challenges, but never with SyFlex.

Syflex: What did you use SyFlex for?

John: There are 107 shots and syflex is used in 86 of them. Our main character is a young boy, dressed with many clothes, and SyFlex was used to get the realistic interaction of clothes, particularly when they are floating in the wind, plus we used it as a sand deformer and for some modeling tricks.

Syflex: How did your pipeline look?

John: We have 5-6 pieces of cloth (Jacket, tshirt, main scarf, pieces of scarf, trousers) depending on the shot, with wind and particles of sand. The most complicated shots were those which combined all those elements, plus some extreme animation, like when the character is falling on the ground, rolling down, and the interactions of the sand and collisions between the clothes.

We had to decompose the workflow very carefully. We first set up the layout (background and camera), then did the animation of the character completely naked, then the first cloth simulation (usually starting with the trousers), bake the simulation, did the second cloth simulation, bake it too , and so on for each layer of clothing. At this stage we modified the animations to reach a nice harmony between the layers. Then hair simulation, and finally the particles effects and sand interactions, lighting and of course rendering. We render in layers for the final compositing.

Syflex: You said you used SyFlex not only for clothing?

John: Yes, we used it for the sand deformer instead of Maya's dynamic engine. We found that the collisions we achieved with SyFlex were very precise.

In Modeling, SyFlex allows you to quickly create shapes with a relaxed position. The scarf as an example is only a simple plane that has been twisted with a deformer, so you've got something quite rigid, however, just by adding some SyFlex dynamics and collisions, the basic model becomes way more "natural", we then extracted the position we wanted, broke the SyFlex dynamic, added some thickness with extrude, a simple shader and we've got a scarf with easy texturing (because it has the same UVs as the original plane), ready to be soft deformed by SyFlex again.

Another fast trick is for modeling landscape, we simply placed some basic geometry under another plane and added SyFlex dynamic and collision, that's all! We've got soft land deformation and no more of that rigid, lifeless modeling. This can be a cheap solution when you don't have a renderfarm to calculate land displacement or if you don't want to spend hours using sculptPolygonTools.

Syflex: Was it the first time you used SyFlex?

John: This was the first time we used SyFlex, but it won't be the last for sure! SyFlex is really one of the greatest tools out there. It's very stable, fast in computing and flexible. You're not locked to only do cloth simulation, SyFlex dynamic engine allows you to do many fantastic visual effects, and the results are often better than expected... always a pleasure to see how SyFlex does the simulation.

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