Syflex in "Car Cover"

QT - 1.26 MB

Clip courtesy of Method Studios


Car commercial


Ad Agency: davidandgoliath, Los Angeles
Client: Kia
Title: "Car Cover"
Air date: May 2004
Special Effects: 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?

Hatem: 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...

Hatem: 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 you used?

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!

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