Syflex in "Car Cover"
Clip courtesy of Method Studios
Ad Agency: davidandgoliath, Los Angeles
Title: "Car Cover"
Air date: May 2004
Method, Santa Monica
Visual Effects Producer: Paul Hahn
Visual Effects Artist: Hatem Ben Abdallah
SyFlex was used to simulate the old-car-cover, from the moment the guy starts
interacting with it and even in part when he rolls it into the trunk.
Special Interview with Hatem Ben Abdallah, VFX Artist on "Car Cover"
The "Car Cover" commercial starred the Syflex demo-reel in SIGGRAPH, and we
received so many responses and questions about it, that we decided to have a
little conversation with Method's VFX Artist Hatem Ben Abdallah, who picked up
on SyFlex for this work, and apparently fell in love with it. Here are a few
notes we mange to take down:
Syflex: How did you use SyFlex in this hilarious commercial?
The agency shot a real a car cover and asked us to redo it, so
everything you see that is the old car is CG, and we used SyFlex to mimic the
cloth movement. The bottom part is taken from real footage and the combination
between the two gives the realistic effect.
We used the real shots as reference not only for the movement, but also to decide
on properties like the density of the cloth in SyFlex.
Syflex: I hear that this was your first time using SyFlex...
I had three weeks to do the whole thing, so I was looking for a
simulator that will be fast and flexible. At first I checked Maya Cloth, but it
was too heavy, so I moved on to check other options.
We chose SyFlex mainly because of its nice feedback. When you need to wait too
long for the software to do the calculation, it's so easy to lose track of what
you were trying to do in the first place. SyFlex is fast, so I could keep my
focus on getting the right affect.
It was also important for me to have the flexibility to be able to respond fast
to any comment from the director.
The key to the success here at Method, is to make work that stays open for
instant tweaking. SyFlex was very good for that... It is so fast that it was
possible to provide the director with new renders really quick. I was able to
make as many versions as I wanted, without having much trouble.
The production schedules are always so tight in the commercials world... After
the research time and learning SyFlex which altogether took me a week, I had
only two weeks to complete the work, so I was really happy to have a solid tool
like SyFlex, otherwise I would not be able to have such a result in such short time.
Syflex: Tell me more about the way you animated the cloth...
Hatem: I made a few versions of the beginning part, trying different
types of fabric. For the animation, I used pins a lot. Placing them, animating
them, and removing them at certain points. Basically, I hand-animated the car
cover and the response from SyFlex was so nice and stable that it felt like
being an artisan, controlling the movement of a real cloth on set.
The director's comments were also as if we were dealing with a real car cover!
Syflex: How do you think SyFlex is different than other 3D software
Hatem: CG software packages are becoming more and more powerful and
sophisticated, but I don't feel enough thinking is going into making them
artist-friendly. I see how gradually all the 3D artists are becoming more and
more technical. The software forces the artist to think in a linear,
problem-solving way, where the creative process works very differently sometimes.
I believe that the future of CG, is software that will push the process
in a different direction, less technical, and more artistic. One key will
be to develop more pre-visualization and simulation tools that work fast and
are easy to use. I think that SyFlex shows how this is possible, and this is
why it is so successful.
Syflex: Any interesting tips you can share with us?
Hatem: Yes. I found that in certain cases, it works very well to use
the triangle/hexagonal poly mesh Maya Cloth creates. In those cases, I created
the mesh in Maya Cloth and made the simulation with SyFlex!