SyFlex in "MoonGirl"

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Large Image - 109KB

SyFlex test. QT - 314KB

Clips and images courtesy of Laika entertainment


Short film


Animation studio: Laika entertainment
Special Effects: Bob Powell
Special Effects: Dave Tonnesen
Special Effects: Saba Roufchaie
Special Effects: Chris Bolwyn


Laika entertainment (Previously known as Vinton Studios) used SyFlex throughout their charming short film, "Moongirl". Directed by Henry Selick, the film has a storybook look and it is about how Leon goes all the way to the moon and meets... Moongirl! Both of the kids are fully dressed up in very stylized SyFlex clothes.


The whole trailer of Moongirl is available on Laika's website. We spoke with Bob Powell and Dave Tonnesen who led the special effects on the film:

Syflex: What effects was SyFlex used for?

Bob: Syflex was used to do Moongirl's jacket and scarf, and Leon's tshirt, vest and pants in all the shots where those characters appear, the majority of the film of course.

Syflex: What was the most complicated shot?

Bob: Actually, rather than the most complicated shot, I'd rather mention the most complicated garment, that appeared in many shots. Without question, the most complicated garment was Moongirl's scarf. This scarf IS in fact simulated, and it is tucked both into the jacket and around itself.

The scarf had a very, very complicated setup which involved pins, magnets, custom spring setups, custom collision objects, and much blending to get it into the proper position.

The second most complicated thing was Moongirl's jacket, which also involved a unique collision object to keep the skirt fairly rigid.

Leon's costume was more straightforward, however we did remodel it extensively, until it felt like it draped like a real t-shirt, vest and pants.

Syflex: You managed to achieve a stylized look for the clothes, but keep them behaving realistically...

Bob: We actually brought in a seamstress that gave us advice on how to pin the cloth to the body to get it to fall in a more interesting and naturalistic way, and to advice us on the creation of the garments. She also made real scale sized costumes for us for our reference. This was very helpful in getting the models down correctly. We eventually reviewed all of our models with her.

We were able to get Leon's tshirt to conform more to his body by creating an initial tshirt pass with a larger version of the vest, simulated against the tshirt as a collision object - with reversed normals. We then simulated a smaller vest over the top of the tshirt with the normals facing outwards that fit more naturally on top of the tshirt, now that it had already been conformed somewhat to fit the vest. This gave the vest more of a sense of weight, and kept the tshirt and vest from looking to much like a "tube".

We modelled the tshirt, vest and pants around 12-15 times, draping and making changes until we got what we wanted.

We wrote a few additional interfaces to create blend caches, copy maps and delete caches that seemed a little easier for us to use than the vanilla syflex interface. Those are posted on the Syflex website.

To create additional deformations for wind, rather than using the SyFlex wind, we often just ran a wave deformer thru the cloth to enable a little 'wind' on the sleeves.

We would used a version of the rigged cloth to generate caches that we could use for blending that had no wrinkles in it. It was used to smooth out the cloth, remove unwanted intersections or wrinkles.

Key to our production process was a plug-in we wrote in house to be able to select any garment and write out a SyFlex cache from it. This allowed us to remove any deformers, constraints, parenting, etc from a cloth setup and just get a cache in the right global space. This was part of how we finalized our caches. We also used this to help generated the caches for the rigged cloth that we used for blending in with the actual sim.

Syflex: Tell us about your experience working with SyFlex...

Bob: This was the first time I have used SyFlex. I found it generally very easy to use, especially with the regular input from you guys about its use. We were able to set up the entire costume creation, including pinning, etc. by using external mel procedures that automatically generated the costume setup. We also were able to get quick bug fixes and turn around from Syflex.


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